New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
– Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

The famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas penned a poem called “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.”  In it, he urged people to not accept their deaths meekly, without a fight.

Written for his dying father, the poem struck a chord among the broad public.  While the sentiments were intimate, they could be read on a grander scale, as it was published after the end of World War II and the Genocide of the Jews.  The British withstood a pounding by the German Nazi forces, but they fought on and prevailed.  The Jews of Europe were unarmed, and managed only a few resistance movements.  Two-thirds of the Jewish population perished.

Gentleness is normally pursued and praised.  But Thomas – and his fans – declared that one should not acquiesce to death.  At such times, gentleness is to be shunned.

NY Times Rage Against “Displacement”

On February 7, 2016, New York Times reporter Steven Erlander wrote an article called “Who Are the True Heirs of Zionism?” It’s an interesting question for someone who fails to understand Zionism.

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The article launched with Erlander’s negative bias:

Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies. The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty there have always carried within them the displacement of those already living in the land.”

Quite an opening paragraph to direct readers that Zionism – whatever its future – is evil at its core. Erlander claimed that Zionism lacks a gentleness since it seeks to displace indigenous people.  It did so at its founding when the secular founders of Zionism created the State of Israel, and the religious settlers do so now, as they seek to annex the “West Bank,” east of the Green Line (EGL). Such claim is completely false and repeats an anti-Israel narrative of Jews as “colonial occupiers” (as acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas claimed).

In reality, Zionism is about fighting against and fleeing from anti-Semitism.  It was the case when Theodore Herzl wrote “The Jewish State” in 1896, and it is the case today.  The essence was not about “displacing” people, but creating a safe place for Jews by reestablishing them in their homeland.

Some facts:

  1. Jews always lived in the Holy Land. While the mass expulsion of Jews happened in 135 CE by the Romans, Jews always maintained a presence in Israel. As evidence, Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem since the 1860s, thirty years before the first Zionist Congress.  In other words, Jews were not newcomers – they were part of “those already living in the land.”
  2. Jews were the only people that moved to the Holy Land during the last century of Ottoman Rule. From 1800 until the end of the Ottoman Empire, the annual growth rate of Muslims in the Holy Land was just 1.0% – the rate of growth of births minus deaths. That means that no Muslims migrated there. However, the Jewish rate of growth was 2.1% over that time period.
  3. Muslims only began to come to the Holy Land after the British Mandate. After a century of zero Muslim migration, Arab Muslims started to move to the Holy Land after the British Mandate of Palestine took effect. More Muslims moved to Palestine under the British Mandate than Jews.
  4. Jews did not intend to “displace” non-Jews. The Jews did not intend to remove the non-Jews – neither those that lived in Palestine for generations, nor the incredible number of Arab newcomers. The intent of Zionism was to bring in Jews from around the world, not to displace others as Erlander claimed. As evidence, Israel gave citizenship to every non-Jew when it declared statehood in 1948.

When Zionism was first broadly advanced in the 1890s after the Dreyfus Affair in France, there were roughly 540,000 people living in Palestine, and millions of Jews living in Europe and Russia. The dream of Zionism’s founders was to move millions of Jews from Europe and Russia to the sparsely populated, unpopular land of Palestine. As history would have it, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe would be massacred, and the Arabs would expel the Jews from their countries, many of whom were to then move to Israel and become the largest segment of the Israeli population.

Today, there are 8.1 million people in Israel, in just a fraction of the original Mandate of Palestine. Roughly 25% of the people – about 2 million – are non-Jews.  That is over four times the number of non-Jews in the entirety of Palestine in 1890. Clearly, Zionism created a place for non-Jews, counter to Erlander’s slander.

Zionism’s Next Phase According to the NY Times:
Secular Israelis versus Religious Jews

Erlander continued to paint a story of the “new Zionists – religious Zionists” who also seek to displace Arabs:

“In that gap between idealism and pragmatism is the fierce battle now going on in Israel, some 65 years after the founding of the state, about the true inheritors of Zionism. Are they those who hold to a secular and internationalist vision of the nation’s founders, or are they the nationalist religious settlers who create communities beyond the 1967 boundaries and seek to annex more of the biblical land of Israel?”

The article painted a picture of secular Israelis today seeking a pragmatic vision of Zionism within 1949 boundaries (as the Times and left-wing group J Street demand) on one side, and irrational religious Israelis, “settlers [that] are the epitome of a particularism, of localism, and they give a bad name to Zionism,” on the other.

Yet the article continued to ignore basic facts:

  1. Zionism continues to be principally about a haven from Anti-Semitism. The vast majority of people moving to Israel, making Aliyah, are people escaping persecution. The countries that dominate moving to Israel every year are Russia and Ukraine. When things get bad in France, French Aliyah spikes. Almost all of these Jews are not religious and are not moving for religious reasons, similar to Zionism of a century ago.
  2. Jews are moving to Judea and Samaria according to International Law, not the Bible.  The “religious settlers” are not seeking to resettle all of the biblical kingdoms of Israel. They are not moving into southern Lebanon, southern Syria or western Jordan which were all part of the Jewish kingdoms. They are moving into those areas that were established in international law in the San Remo Conference of 1920 that outlined that Jews could live throughout the land of Palestine. That land included Judea and Samaria. Just because the Jordanians attacked Israel in 1948, illegally annexed the land in 1950, and evicted all of the Jews counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention, does not mean that these lands are somehow not an integral part of the lands set for a Jewish homeland by international law.
  3. Non-Jews have not been expelled from the West Bank/EGL or Gaza.  The contention that the “religious settlers” are continuing this rage of Zionism by displacing yet more non-Jews is absurd.  The only people that the Israeli government expelled from their homes were Jews, as happened in Sinai (1982) and Gaza (2005).
  4. “Religious Settlers” are not primitive.  Erlander seemed to draw a contrast against the cosmopolitan, pluralistic, secular Israelis involved in art and technology living in Tel Aviv to “religious nationalists.”  Erlander would do well to visit Maale Adumim, Efrat and many other “settlements” to see that these “settlers” are more cosmopolitan than many of the people living in Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.

The founders of Zionism in the 19th century knew the sentiment of Dylan Thomas’s poem before he was even born: “do not go gentle into the good night.”  They fought against hatred and persecution and set up a liberal democracy in the heart of the illiberal Middle East.  Had Zionism flourished earlier, and the Arabs and British not delayed the creation of the State of Israel, perhaps a million Jews would have been saved from the Holocaust.

Today, Jews continue to come to Israel, fleeing persecution. They live throughout Israel and Area C in the West Bank/EGL. They believe in the international law that gave them the right to settle and reconstitute their homeland.  Just as they would not tolerate the anti-Semitism from where they left, they do no support the anti-Semitic wishes of a Palestinian Authority that demands land free of any Jews.

Erlander is right that “Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies,” but he misses the crucial point.  Zionism’s rage is against anti-Semitism and persecution; it has never been about displacement.

The gentleness of Zionism, in which “every high tech start-up, every new Thai restaurant and every successful film” flourishes, is found when and where anti-Semitism and persecution are absent.  As the world embraces the anti-Semitic credo of Palestinians demanding Jews be barred from living or working in the West Bank/EGL, Israelis will continue to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”


Related First.One.Through articles:

New York Times’ Tales of Israeli Messianic War-Mongering

A Native American, An African American and a Hispanic American walk into Israel…

Rick Jacobs’ Particular Reform Judaism

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Squeezing Zionism

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

A Flower in Terra Barbarus

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Real and Imagined Laws of Living in Silwan

The New York Times deliberately misrepresented opinion as law to disparage Israel, and omitted actual Palestinian laws to hide Arab racism. As such, the paper fully embraced anti-Semitism and the principle of segregation if it prohibits Jews from living in predominantly Arab neighborhoods.

In an article on October 16, 2014 called “A House-by-House Struggle for Control of a Jerusalem Neighborhood”, the NYT’s Isabel Kershner had an opening paragraph that could have been taken from Mein Kampf in describing secretive, cheating and stealing Jews:

“In the dark of night, under the protection of Israeli security forces, Jewish settlers took possession of some 25 housing units in six locations around the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem Many of the properties had been rented out, but they were strangely empty when the settlers arrived… Through a multimillion-dollar series of complex and shadowy transactions spanning several years,
Elad engineered the largest private settlement initiative in decades.”

[By way of comparison, here is a quote from Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “they (Jews) try to cheat the whole world with their tricks; they are lazy, but with their pretended ‘silent’ work they create the appearance of an enormous and equally laborious activity; in short, they are cheats, characters of political profiteering, who hate the honest work of others. Just as such a folkish moth always appeals to the darkness of the silence, one can bet a thousand to one that under its cover he does not produce, but only steals steals from the fruits of the labor of others”] 

The article goes on to describe and suggest that it is illegal for Jews to buy homes in the eastern part of Jerusalem. That suggestion is both untrue and racist. Here are the facts:

  • Silwan was established by Yemenite Jews in 1881. It was one of the first developments outside the city walls of Jerusalem, while the area was part of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Jews have been an established majority in Jerusalem since the 1860s.
  • The Ottomans did not impose any limits on where Jews could live.
  • When Britain took over Palestine as part of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate in 1922, the mandate specifically stated (Article 15) that no one should be barred from living in the area because of their religion.
  • The Palestinians rioted in 1936-9, killing hundreds of Jews, and effectively lobbied the British to limit Jewish immigration to Palestine. But even under those new anti-Jewish rules, there was no prohibition of Jews living in the eastern part of Jerusalem.
  • Jerusalem and Bethlehem were designated to be an international “Holy Basin” according to the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, and was to be neither part of Israel or Palestine. Both Arab and Jew were free to live anywhere in the Basin.
  • Silwan, and much of the eastern half of Jerusalem was forcibly cleansed of Jews when the Palestinians and Jordanians initiated a war against the Jewish State in 1948, and the Jordanians illegally annexed the eastern half of the city. The Jordanians and Palestinians barred any Jews from even visiting the eastern half of the city.
  • The Jordanians granted Palestinian Arabs citizenship and denied giving any citizenship to Jews in the lands they forcibly conquered (including eastern Jerusalem), making it illegal for Jews to own land there.
  • The Jordanians and Palestinians launched another attack on Israel in 1967, only to lose the eastern half of Jerusalem in that war.

These facts were completely ignored. The only information discussed about the settling of Silwan described: “territory that Israel conquered from Jordan in the 1967 war and then annexed, in a move that was never internationally recognized. Most of the world considers the area illegally occupied by Israel

The suggestion that Israel’s annexation (as a result of a defensive war) is considered illegal by “most of the world” and therefore means that Jews are forbidden to live there is completely misleading and untrue.

  • The Israeli territory of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) is administered by Israel. Israel approves housing for both Arabs and Jews there, and in the eastern part of Jerusalem which they annexed.
  • International law against the forcible transfer of a population has nothing to do with individual rights of buying and living in a property of their own choosing.

The NYT article successfully: 1) described Jews the way Hitler did; 2) gave no background of the long and legal history of the Jews living in the eastern part of Jerusalem; 3) implied illegal activity of Jews buying and moving into their homes when such action is legal.

What the Times article deliberately failed to describe was the actual illegal activity – according to the Palestinian Authority – for any Arab to sell land to a Jew.

Palestinian law bans the selling of land to a Jew, punishable by death. Not only was that law not mentioned in this or any NYT article, Kershner deliberately hid this racist Palestinian law in the article with a false narrative: “At a stormy meeting of about 100 [Palestinian] residents and activists in a children’s playground soon afterward, participants denounced the [real estate] brokers and called for them to be publicly named and cast out of their clans. The Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction in Jerusalem, but there is a history of vigilante justice: In the 1990s, some local land dealers accused of selling property to Jews were kidnapped and killed.

First, note how the article called Jews “settlers” and Arabs are called “residents”. Both parties are residents and neighbors in the same block. Is the New York Times so against coexistence that each party needs a distinct label?

Second, the article correctly points out that the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction in the area, but it describes the actions of “residents and activists” of “vigilante justice” making the actions appear random, unauthorized and opposed by the “moderate” Palestinian Authority. The fact is that property sales are considered a capital offense and Palestinian courts have handed out death sentences for the sale of land to Jews.


The New York Times’ illusion of Jews taking property by force in the dark of the night is outrageous. The secretive nature of the purchase was to protect the Arabs that sold the property from being killed by fellow Arabs according to Palestinian law.

The purchase of apartments by individual Jews in their holiest and capital city in a neighborhood founded by Jews is completely legal. The fact that they had to act discretely in their purchases because of racist Palestinian laws is a travesty that should anger the world – about Palestinians, not the Israelis.

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Sources:

NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/world/middleeast/a-house-by-house-struggle-for-control-of-a-jerusalem-neighborhood.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

Yeminite Jews in Silwan: http://www.meforum.org/3281/silwan

1922 League of Nations Mandate: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp

1939 White Paper: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/brwh1939.asp

Jordan’s nationality law (article 3) excluding Jews: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b4ea13.html

FirstOneThrough on the 800,000 Arabs moving to Palestine during the British Mandate: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/whos-new-everybody/

Abbas on Jew-free Palestine: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/07/30/abbas-arabs-in-israel-no-jews-in-palestine-peace-process/

Short history of Palestinians+Jordanians controlling Jerusalem: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/east-jerusalem-the-0-5-molehill/

PA Land Law: http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/PA-affirms-death-penalty-for-land-sales-to-Israelis

Jordan attacking Israel 1967 according to King Hussein: http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/his_periods3.html

Palestinian courts handing death sentence for land sale to Jews: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2009/04/2009429105147715724.html

Mein Kampf: https://archive.org/stream/meinkampf035176mbp/meinkampf035176mbp_djvu.txt

The anthem of Israel is Jerusalem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wulmUGVG3jA

Obama endorsing Jew-free state: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/obama-supports-anti-semitic-palestinian-agenda-of-jew-free-state/