The New New Anti-Semitism

18 Nov

The New New Anti-Semitism



Hiding Israel’s Crimes of State Behind False Claims of Victimization


I along with many others am being victimized these days. They are being labeled anti-Semites, and in some instances, self-hating Jews as well. This is a Zionist and Israeli effort to shut down our voices and punish our non-violent activism, with special venom directed at the BDS Campaign because it has become so effective in recent years. This negative branding of the opposition is being called ‘the new anti-Semitism.’ The old anti-Semitism was simply hatred of Jews as expressed through negative images and attitudes, as well as discriminatory practices, persecution, and vigilante violence. The new anti-Semitism is criticism of Israel and Zionism, and it has been endorsed by governments friendly to Israel and pushed by a variety of prominent Jewish organizations, including some associated with Holocaust survivors and memories. Emmanuel Macron, President of France, put this pushback by apologists for Israel rather clearly, if in a rather malicious form: “We will never surrender to the expressions of hatred. We will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is the reinvention of anti-Semitism.” The false premise is equating Zionism with Jews, automatically making criticism and opposition to the Zionist state of Israel as anti-Semitism.


Already in 2008 the U.S. State Department moved more subtly in a direction similar to that of Macron with this formal statement: “Motives for criticizing Israel in the UN may stem from legitimate concerns over policy or from illegitimate prejudices. […] However, regardless of the intent, disproportionate criticism of Israel as barbaric and unprincipled, and corresponding discriminatory measures adopted in the UN against Israel, have the effect of causing audiences to associate negative attributes with Jews in general, thus fueling anti-Semitism.” The fallacy here is to view criticism as ‘disproportionate’ without ever considering the realities of Israel’s long record of unlawfulness with regard to the Palestinian people. To those of us who view the reality of Israeli policies and practices have little doubt that the criticisms being advanced, and the pressures being exerted, are in every sense proportionate.


A related argument often made is that Israel is being held to higher standards than other states, and this discloses an anti-Semitic sub-text. Such an argument is disingenuous. It is not a defense to suggest that the criminality of others is more severe. Besides, the U.S. subsidizes Israel to the extent of at least $3.8 billion a year, besides its unconditional backing of its behavior, creating some responsibility to impose limits according with international humanitarian law. As well, the UN contributed to the Palestinian ordeal by failing to implement the partition solution, and allowing for 70 years for millions of Palestinians to be subject to apartheid structures of domination. No other people can so justifiably blame external forces for its own sustained tragedy.



In 2014 Noam Chomsky explained the false logic of such an allegation with typical moral and intellectual clarity: “Actually, the locus classicus, the best formulation of this, was by an ambassador to the United Nations, Abba Eban, […] He advised the American Jewish community that they had two tasks to perform. One task was to show that criticism of the policy, what he called anti-Zionism — that means actually criticisms of the policy of the state of Israel — were anti-Semitism. That’s the first task. Second task, if the criticism was made by Jews, their task was to show that it’s neurotic self-hatred, needs psychiatric treatment. Then he gave two examples of the latter category. One was I.F. Stone. The other was me. So, we have to be treated for our psychiatric disorders, and non-Jews have to be condemned for anti-Semitism, if they’re critical of the state of Israel. That’s understandable why Israeli propaganda would take this position. I don’t particularly blame Abba Eban for doing what ambassadors are sometimes supposed to do. But we ought to understand that there is no sensible charge. No sensible charge. There’s nothing to respond to. It’s not a form of anti-Semitism. It’s simply criticism of the criminal actions of a state, period.



One feature of this new anti-Semitism is its non-response to the well-evidenced allegations of crimes against humanity made by those being labeled as anti-Semites. Do these ardent supporters of Israel really carry their sense of impunity to such an extent that silence is allowed to stand as an adequate defense? Underlying such a denial of the very idea of legal accountability and moral responsibility is this sense of Israeli exceptionalism, an outlook toward international criminal law that it shares with American exceptionalism. Those who adhere to such exceptionalism purport to be outraged even by the implication that such a government might be subject to the norms embedded in the statute of the International Criminal Court or the UN Charter. Israeli exceptionalism does have its own roots in biblical tradition, especially a secular reading of Jews as ‘the chosen people,’ but really rests on a comfort zone created by the geopolitical umbrella shielding its most law-defying moves from global scrutiny. Illustrative of many such protective actions was the recent UN General Assembly Resolution declaring Israeli steps toward the annexation of the Golan Heights to be null and void, with only Israel and the United States voting ‘no’ as against 151 UN members voting ‘yes.’


If we take just a minute to consult international law we find the issue so obvious as to be unworthy of serious discussion. A cardinal principle of contemporary international law, often affirmed by the UN in other contexts, is the impermissibility of the acquisition of territory by force of arms. There is no dispute that Golan Heights were part of Syrian sovereign territory until the 1967 War, and that Israel acquired control that it has exercised ever since as a result of forcible occupation.






The Ironies of the New New Anti-Semitism


There is an opportunistic irony present. The new anti-Semitism seems to have no trouble embracing Christian Zionist despite their hostility to Jews that is coupled with their fanatical devotion to Israel as a Jewish state. Anyone who has watched a Christian Zionist briefing knows that their reading of the Book of Revelations involves an interpretation that Jesus will return once all Jews return to Israel and the most holy temple in Jerusalem is restored. Such a process does not end there. Jews then face an ultimatum to convert to Christianity or face eternal damnation. And so there is present among these fanatical friends of Israel a genuine hostility to Jews, both by trying to insist that ending the Jewish diaspora as a matter of religious imperative for Christians, and in the dismal fate that awaits Jews who refuse to convert after The Second Coming.


An illuminating perversity is present. Unlike the new anti-Semites that have no hostility to Jews as people, the Christian Zionists give priority to their enthusiasm for the state of Israel, while being ready to disrupt the lives of diaspora Jews and eventually even Israeli and Zionist Jews. Maybe it is less perversity than opportunism. Israel has never had any reluctance to support the most oppressive and dictatorial leaders of foreign countries provided they buy arms and do not adopt an anti-Israeli diplomacy. Netanyahu’s congratulatory message to Jair Bolsonaro the newly elected leader of Brazil is but the most recent instance, and Israel received a quick reward by an announcement of a decision to join  the United States in moving its embassy to Jerusalem. In effect, the new anti-Semitism is comfortable with both Christian Zionism and with foreign political leaders that exhibit fascist inclinations. In effect, a blind eye toward the core reality of true anti-Semitism is a characteristic of the new anti-Semitism so favored by militant Zionists. For abundant documentation see the important book by Jeff Halper,War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification (2015).


Against such a background, we need a descriptive term that identifies this phenomenon and rejects its insidious claims. I am here proposing the inelegant label ‘the new new anti-Semitism.’ The idea of such a label is to suggest that it is the new anti-Semites not the critics and activists critical of Israel that are the real bearers of hatred toward Jews as Jews. Two kinds of arguments are contained in this pushback against the campaign seeking to discredit or even criminalize the ‘new anti-Semites.’ First, it deflects criticism from the persistence of an alarming reality, the continuing ordeal of apartheid imposed on all the Palestinian people as a whole, which should become the salient concern for all who wish the best for humanity. Secondly, it deliberately or unwittingly diverts attention from, and confuses, objections to real anti-Semitism by accepting on behalf of the state of Israel the embrace of Christian Zionists (and evangelicals) along with that of fascist leaders who preach messages of ethnic hatred.


To conclude, we who are attacked as new anti-Semites are really trying to honor our humanidentity, and to reject tribalist loyalties or geopolitical alignments, in our commitment to the realization of Palestinian rights, above all their right of self-determination. As Jews to hold Israel accountable under standards that were used to condemn Nazi surviving political and military leaders is to honor the legacy of the Holocaust, not to defile it. In contrast, when Israel sells weapons and offers counterinsurgency training to fascist led governments around the world or remains ready to accept post-Khashoggi Saudi Arabia as a valued ally, it obscures the evil nature of the Holocaust in ways that could haunt Israel and even diaspora Jews in the future.



49 Responses to “The New New Anti-Semitism”

  1. Fred Skolnik November 19, 2018 at 1:49 am #

    How do we know when it’s antisemitism? I’ll say it for the twentieth time: by the language. If you as a scholar are unable to recognize the nature of a text (or a comment) by the kind of language it uses, or by what it presents as evidence, or by what it ignores, or by a dozen other clear signs, then you are no scholar, or have simply been blinded by your biases. Surely you are aware that Jew haters are apt to be Israel haters as well.

    As for your assertions that Israel is guilty of “well-evidenced” crimes against humanity and that its critics are merely pointing this out, I have also addressed this false allegation time and again, at which point you have generally disappeared or censored my remarks.

    • Richard Falk November 21, 2018 at 5:25 am #

      Repeating what is misleading and self-serving makes you
      less convincing, not as you seem to think, more persuasive.

      • Andrew Keith November 26, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

        Thanks for the article, Richard. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been called a self-hating Jew, well, I’d have a lot of nickels.

        Looks like you have a typo in this sentence: “To those of us who view the reality of Israeli policies and practices have little doubt that the criticisms being advanced, and the pressures being exerted, on in every sense proportionate”. Should on be is in the last clause.

        Keep up the good work.

      • Richard Falk November 26, 2018 at 6:34 pm #

        Thanks, for calling the typo to my attention. I have made the change.

    • Fred Skolnik November 21, 2018 at 6:03 am #

      What exactly is misleading about noting that an antisemitic text is recognizable as such?

      But what is really misleading is the way you are misrepresenting the BDS movement as nonviolent, just as you misrepresented the Gaza rioters as nonviolent. The BDS movement is certainly a violent movement, physically disrupting Israeli events and threatening athletes and entertainers and their families when they announce future appearances in Israel. Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi actually received death threats from them, and now these despicable people are targeting Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai before her upcoming European tour. When public figures support boycotts of Israeli individuals and institutions, seeking to undermine Israel’s economic, cultural and academic life, not to mention its very existence, and to destroy the careers of entirely innocent people, Israel’s supporters are going to call for boycotts of those same public figues. When BDS people disrupt Israeli events, Israel’s supporters are going to disrupt BDS events. What do you expect?

      And since you are always touting the integrity of these people (honest critics and not, God forbid, haters), you might ask yourself how such righteous people can permit themselves to continue enjoying the benefits of the Israeli technology and medical research developed in the same institutions they work to boycott and which provide vital components that go into their computers, mobile phones, voice mail, email, ebooks, Facebook, antiviruses, the Internet and medications and treatments for almost every major disease. Some integrity! They are like people screaming their heads off on a streetcorner to boycott a drugstore and then sneaking around to the back after hours to stock up on medical supplies. That is the level of integrity and it tells you exactly who and what they are.

      I have mentioned all this in the past, but nothing sinks in. When you require so much falsification to make your case, you should be talking a long, hard look at yourself.

      • Richard Falk November 22, 2018 at 8:32 am #

        On the basis of my consistent experience with those involved with the BDS campaign, including its leaders,
        I have not encountered a trace of anti-Semitism, and in fact, a very strong negative reaction to any sentiments
        that blame Jews rather than Zionism for the crimes committed by Israel on a daily basis. This includes the leadership of

        You may on some level be right that there is some degree of inconsistency between being the beneficiary of Israel
        technology and a critic of the behavior of the state toward the Palestinian people, but even so, it does not imply
        that Israel is not responsible for the wrongs done to the Palestinian people for decades. Hitler may have benefitted
        Germans, including his critics, by championing the Volkswagen, but that does not mitigate Nazi criminality.

        I too have share your feeling of repeating myself, and noting that nothing sinks in; perhaps, you too need a look, hard
        look before a full length mirror!

      • Fred Skolnik November 22, 2018 at 12:56 pm #

        You are again sliding around my points.

        The BDS movement is not nonviolent as you claim. Why don’t you address the death threats and the targeting of innocent Israeli individuals, or codemn it?

        The inconsistency is not between being the beneficiary of Israeli
        technology and a critic of the behavior of the state toward the Palestinian people but of being the beneficiary of Israeli
        technology and calling for a boycott of the individuals and institutions that produce it, and this speaks to the character of BDS supporters and tells one a great deal about who and what they are.

        Please give us some indication that you understand that Jew haters are apt to be Istael haters as well or that you understand that an antisemitic text is recognizable as such by the language it uses.

      • Richard Falk November 22, 2018 at 2:17 pm #

        The fact that extremists make death threats should to be attributed to
        the movement as a whole unless it encourages it. I have received death threats
        rather frequently, but that doesn’t make Zioism as a whole implicated.

      • Fred Skolnik November 22, 2018 at 9:07 pm #

        But you do implicate Zionism as a whole, continually: “This is a Zionist and Israeli effort to shut down our voices and punish our non-violent activism,” etc., etc.

        As to who should be looking at himself in the mirror, that comes down to the actual facts of the matter, and I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that you are avoiding them.

        Any war or military action can be made to look more odious than it is by pretending that it is being waged between an army on one side and innocent, unarmed civilians on the other. In this way the Allies can also be called vampires and German civilians their oppressed victims. Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people but with the terrorist organizations. All military actions undertaken by Israel are directed against these organizations and anyone else engaged in planning or carrying out terrorist acts. Palestinian civilians suffer for the same reason German civilians suffered in World War II – because their leaders dragged them into a war, and in the Palestinian case because they wage it from within their midst.

      • Fred Skolnik November 22, 2018 at 9:45 pm #

        And since you do not hesitate to reproduce long newspaper columns vilifying Israel, here is a report from today’s Israeli press (ynet), for the sake of balance and to keep your readers in touch with reality and understand why Israel is so vigilant:

        Shin Bet foils Hamas-planned bombing in Israe.l Hamas military wing recruited militants in the West Bank and taught them how to build bombs to carry out attacks within the Green Line; Gazan cancer patient and her sister, who got entry permit to Israel, were used to pass on messages from the strip.

        The Shin Bet has thwarted an attempt by the heads of Hamas in Gaza to establish terror infrastructure in the West Bank to plan and carry out bombings in Israel, the agency said on Thursday.

        According to the Shin Bet, members of Hamas’s military wing recruited fighters in the West Bank, taught them how to build bombs and instructed them to find crowded places within the Green Line to target—such as a large building, mall, restaurant, hotel, train or bus.

        The Shin Bet noted this plot was at a much larger scope and posed far greater danger than similar attempts in the past, as it was directed by Hamas’s high command in Gaza and not by former Palestinian security prisoners expelled from the West Bank, as previous attempts had been.

        The Hamas leadership put pressure on the militants in the West Bank to carry out the planned attacks as soon as possible in an effort to escalate the security situation in both Gaza and the West Bank.

        Hamas communicated with the militants in the West Bank through messages passed on by Gaza patients allowed into Israel to undergo life-saving medical treatments, as well as other Gaza residents who had business contacts in the West Bank. The Shin Bet noted this was not the first time Hamas was exploiting humanitarian cases to carry out military operations in the West Bank.

        The terror infrastructure was uncovered following the September 23 arrest of Awis Rajoub, a 25-years-old Hamas militant from Dura, near Hebron. The Shin Bet learned of Rajoub’s actions on behalf of Hamas’s military wing after he told some of his relatives and friends about it and asked for their help in purchasing materials to build bombs.

        Rajoub was recruited by a Hamas militant from Gaza, who approached him close to the end of Ramadan and offered him to join the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the terror group’s military wing.

        On August 11, Rajoub was sent to a medical warehouse in Ramallah to pick up a cellphone for his communications with his operators in Gaza.

        Several days later, he met with a Gazan woman who was accompanying her sister to Israel for medical treatments. She was sent by Hamas to provide him with a password for his phone and instructions on how to use the device.

        The Gaza operators sent videos to this cellphone instructing Rajoub how to build remotedly-detonated bombs. Rajoub also had video chats with an explosives expert who is part of the terror infrastructure.

        Rajoub recruited two Hamas members from Battir, Yazan and Sayyaf Asafra, and instructed them to find suitable targets for the attack in Israel and to prepare the explosives for the bomb, while he worked on the detonator.

        Rajoub was ordered to finish preparing the bomb by the end of September and carry out the attack in early October, but was stopped by the Shin Bet before that.

        The Gazan woman who provided Rajoub with password and instructions for his phone was identified as 53-year-old Naama Miqdad, while her sister, a cancer patient, was identified as 47-year-old Samira Smot.

        The two women also met with Hamas terrorist Fuad Dar Khalil, who spent 14 years in Israeli prison for his involvement in a shooting attack and in planning other terror attacks. He was released from prison in 2016. The women gave him a suitcase containing a hidden letter from the Gaza operators.

        The two women were sent by their relative Muhammad Abu Kwaik, 36, a member of Hamas’s military wing, who is known to be in contact with terrorists and to assist them in their operations.

      • Beau Oolayforos November 24, 2018 at 10:59 am #

        It seems that we need to be grateful to Israel for all those medications, technology, etc…where else shall we find them in this 21st century??!! …thanks, Zionists, for keeping us alive, healthy, & in touch. A bit like the Saudi’s – whatever shall we do w/out their oil?? Better shut up, no matter how heinous they get.

      • Fred Skolnik November 26, 2018 at 1:33 pm #

        No, you don’t have to be grateful. Just don’t use them if you support the BDSers. Otherwise you’re just a fraud.

    • Andrew Keith November 26, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

      Israel is guilty of well-evidenced crimes against the Palestinians, including expulsions, property misappropriation, and the continued effort to eliminate the Palestinians from the land. it’s stunning that anyone can endorse the 51 plus year military rule that Israel has imposed on the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

      Assuming that you’ll [falsely] say Israel left Gaza in 2005, let’s focus on what Israel is doing in the West Bank. How do you defend military rule over a people for 51 plus years, denying them basic human rights, with no end in sight, while the Zionists develop the land in such a way as to isolate and balkanize the pre-existing Palestinian communities? How many years would you live under military rule without basic human rights? 1? 2? 5? 10? Should I keep going? Or should I just say try most of your life, since anyone born in 1967 is 51 years old this year?

      Okay, now cry some crocodile tears, blame the victims, and point to all the Zionist inspired partition plans that the Palestinians have turned down, rightfully I might add.

      • Richard Falk November 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm #

        Both cogent and moving, illuminating the enormity of the injustices inflicted
        on the Palestinian people.

      • Kata Fisher November 26, 2018 at 8:47 pm #

        Proffessor Falk, I am reading this all and I can not stop thinking about Zionist movement starting out from-post-Azusa street global disorder. Also, the Holocaust.

      • Fred Skolnik November 26, 2018 at 9:42 pm #

        It’s very simple and, once again, it just isn’t sinking in: The occupation continued because the Arabs declared at Khartoum: no peace, no negotiations, no recognition – and for the next 25 years couldn’t even bring themselves to pronounce Israel’s name. The occupation became oppressive because the Palestinians engaged in acts of terrorism against Israel’s civilian population.

        There are no Zionist-inspired partition plans, nor anything that resembles balkanization. A final border has to be negotiated to replace the old armistice lines and Israel proposes a very reasonable land swap.

      • Richard Falk November 27, 2018 at 7:56 am #

        This will never ‘sink in’ because it is deeply misleading. At least after
        1988, those formally representing Palestine made every effort to accept a
        political compromise based on the 1967 borders, but Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and settlement project was a rejections based on behavior not, as with
        Khartoum, a matter of rhetoric.

        When you show some willingness to exhibit just a bit of self-criticism it might become possible to have a useful dialogue, but as long as you present Israeli propaganda as ‘fact’ this is impossible.

      • Fred Skolnik November 27, 2018 at 8:38 am #

        I think you should be able to do a little better than characterizing what spoils your arguments as propaganda and the Khartoum Declaration as rhetoric. Is the Arab terrorism also a “deeply misleading” illusion fostered by Israeli propaganda?

        Israel made the Palestinians reasonable offers in 2000 and 2008 under Barack and Olmert. The Palestinians ran away. I honestly and sincerely don’t understand what you have in mind when you use the term dialogue. All you are doing in this blog is trying to establish Israel’s absolute guilt. If you had the slightest interest is a practical solution to the conflict, I would be glad to engage you in a dialogue focussing on how such a solution might be brought about. In the absence of such a dialogue I continue to address the distortions and misrepresentations in your allegations and you continue to characterize whatever isn’t to your liking as propaganda. At the risk of being labeled uncivil I will say that it is dishonest to disregard the Khartoum Declaration, or the fact that the terrorism began before there were settlements or any measures that could be called oppressive, in fact an open border policy under Dayan’s inspiration, or the declared aim of the Arab world to destroy the State of Israel .

      • Andrew Keith November 27, 2018 at 8:45 am #

        Right on cue, Fred, as I predicted: “Okay, now cry some crocodile tears, blame the victims.” Do you always endorse collective punishment?

      • Fred Skolnik November 27, 2018 at 9:06 pm #

        You are reciting a mantra and not addressing anything I said. I am blaming the Arab regimes that initiated the Arab wars against the State of Israel and the terrorist organizations that attack its civilian population.

      • Andrew Keith November 28, 2018 at 10:14 am #

        Fred Skolnick: The intervention by the Arab countries was in 1948. But for this intervention, the ethnic cleansing would have been worse. I have no illusions that the Arab interventions were entirely altruistic, but they did prevent additional ethnic cleansing. The next war was in 1956, which was a naked act of aggression by Israel. Israel’s 1967 conquests and occupations were planned years in advance and were also naked acts of aggression by Israel.

        The cause of all these aggressions was not the Arab armies’s intervention in 1948. The cause was the emigration from their homelands (as unwelcoming as these homelands could be) to a foreign country, Palestine, to set up a Jewish State that did not include the local non-Jewish population. There is overwhelming evidence from before the 20th Century that the Zionists wanted to dispossess the non-Jewish population in Palestine. These efforts continue apace.

        I’m sure that you disagree with all this. That is why my question was restricted to post 1967, and read as follows: “How many years would you live under military rule without basic human rights? 1? 2? 5? 10? Should I keep going? Or should I just say try most of your life, since anyone born in 1967 is 51 years old this year?”

        That the Palestinians periodically revolt against this occupation is to be naturally expected. That there are acts of violence and terrorism (which I do not support) at times is to be expected. But to keep an entire population under occupation for these acts is inexcusable. That is called collective punishment.

        Put another way, if Israel in 1967 had treated the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with dignity and respect instead of colonizing then and mistreating them, and eliminating them from the life of the land, the intifadas, the violence, the terrorism would not have happened, at least for the most part. In fact, wasn’t the 1st intifada in 1987, 20 years after the military occupation began? Would you abide 20 years of military occupation? (I’m curious as to how much violence there was between 1967 and 1987. I’m betting not much.)

        Another point is that Israel sets an impossibly high standard for the Palestinians – if there is any violence, it is met with brutal force. But humans are by nature violent, so there is always going to be violence. Peace could break out now between the river and the sea, everyone could have a chicken in a pot and 2 cars in the garage, and there would still be violence. So the violence is just an excuse to continue the occupation and the colonization, since Israel never had any intention of giving up the West Bank, or Gaza initially, although that changed.

        In this regard, Israel decided after the 1967 that it would not expel all of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, although plenty were expelled, it would not grant them citizenship, and it would not relinquish that territory. Instead, Israel took the disingenuous position that it would only relinquish the occupied territories if a comprehensive peace treaty were signed. But since Israel won’t sign a fair, comprehensive peace treaty, the occupation is indefinite. Pretty nice game, huh?

      • Fred Skolnik November 28, 2018 at 12:37 pm #

        You are making a series of assertions that have very little to do with reality and I am at a loss as to where you have picked up this version of events. I suppose that as an exercise someone could make the Allies look like the culprits in World War II by arbitrarily making assertions that resemble yours.

        There were no expulsions before the Arab invasion of 1948. There was flight encouraged by the Arabs themselves:

        Nimr el Hawari, the Commander of the Palestine Arab Youth Organization, in his book Sir Am Nakbah (The Secret Behind the Disaster, published in Nazareth in 1955), quoted the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said as saying: ”We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.”

        The Egyptian daily Akhbar El Yom, Oct 12, 1963:”The 15th May, 1948 arrived… on that day the Mufti of Jerusalem appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, because the Arab countries were about to enter and fight in their stead.”

        Khaled al-`Azm, who served as Prime Minister of Syria in 1948 and 1949, wrote in his memoirs, Beirut 1973 that among the reasons for the Arab failure in 1948 was “the call by the Arab Governments to the inhabitants of Palestine to evacuate it and to leave for the bordering Arab countries, after having sown terror among them…Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave…We have brought destruction upon a million Arab refugees, by calling upon them and pleading with them to leave their land, their homes, their work and business…” (Part 1, pp. 386-387).

        Expulsions there were but to claim that the Arab invasion prevented “more ethnic cleansing” is absurd. I have also noted in the past that an equal number of Jews were displaced from Arab countries in the war period.

        As to the cause of the invasion, the Arabs have explained it themselves:

        “The Arab world is not in a compromising mood. It’s likely, Mr. Horowitz that your plan is rational and logical, but the fate of nations is not decided by rational logic. Nations never concede; they fight. You won’t get anything by peaceful means or compromise. You can, perhaps, get something, but only by the force of your arms. We shall try to defeat you. I am not sure we’ll succeed, but we’ll try. We were able to drive out the Crusaders, but on the other hand we lost Spain and Persia. It may be that we shall lose Palestine. But it’s too late to talk of peaceful solutions.”

        –Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Sept. 1947

        You see, for the Arabs the Land of Israel was just another Spain or Persia. Remember that the Arabs come from Arabia. The Jews come from Judea. A compromise was proposed. The Jews accepted it, the Arabs rejected it and went to war.

        Between 1951 and 1956, 400 Israelis were killed and 900 wounded by fedayeen attacks. In 1955 alone, 260 Israeli citizens were killed or wounded by fedayeen. That was the reason for the “naked act of aggression” in the 1956 Sinai Campaign.

        Here are some highlights from the 1968 – 1988 attacks:

        Nov 22, 1968 – Jerusalem, Israel
        12 killed and 52 injured by a car bomb in the Mahaneh Yehuda market..
        Feb 21, 1969 – Jerusalem, Israel
        2 killed and 20 injured by a bomb detonated in a crowded supermarket.
        Oct 22, 1969 – Haifa, Israel
        4 killed and 20 wounded by terrorist bombs in 5 apartments.
        May 22, 1970 – Avivim, Israel
        Terrorists attack schoolbus, killing 12 (9 of whom were children), and wounding 24.
        May 30, 1972 – Lod airport
        26 killed and 78 wounded after PFLP and Japanese Red Army terrorists open fire in the passenger terminal.
        Sep 5, 1972 – Munich, Germany
        11 members of the Israeli Olympic wrestling team and 1 German policeman were massacred by Fatah terrorists after an unsuccessful rescue attempt by West German authorities.
        Apr 11, 1974 – Kiryat Shemona, Israel | 18 killed, 8 of whom were children, by PFLP terrorists who detonated their explosives during a failed rescue attempt by Israeli authorities.
        May 15, 1974 – Maalot, Israel
        27 killed, 21 of whom were children, and 78 wounded by PFLP terrorists in a school, after an unsuccessful rescue attempt.
        Jul 4, 1975 – Jerusalem, Israel
        14 killed and 80 injured in Zion Square bombing attack, in which the bomb was hidden in a refrigerator.

        And so on.

        I noted previously why the occupation has lasted this long and why it became oppressive so I won’t repeat myself.

        I apologize, Prof. Falk, for the length of this reply but in my view Mr. Keith’s claims are a perfect example of the kind of distortion and falsification that are part and parcel of the anti-Israel narrative.

      • Andrew Keith November 28, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

        Fred: Wasn’t the massacre in Deir Yassim on or about April 9, 1948? Doesn’t that count as an expulsion? There were other expulsions before May 15, 1948, but I’m not sure why it matters whether they were before or after that date? The Zionists occupied Lydda and al-Ramle (both designated to be in an Arab state in November 1947) in July 1948 and then ethnically cleansed both towns. The Arab intervention had nothing to do with this. I also don’t think it makes a difference whether innocent civilians were expelled or fled. At the end of the day, Israel refused to repatriate anyone on the basis of one thing: religion. Israel wanted a Jewish state, so it wasn’t going to allow Palestinian Christians or Muslims to return, which was a wrongful act, in violation of U.N. Resolution 194 (I believe that is the number). To boot, Israel stole the refugees’s property pursuant to the Absentee Property Laws, a historical fact that you cannot deny.

        It’s easy to go through decades worth of history and cherry pick quotes that support your position. But the Zionist quotes that support supposed orders that the Palestinian Arabs should flee are usually wrenched out of context, or incomplete. Often when put in context, these quotes mean the opposite of what the Zionists use them for. In addition, just because someone says something doesn’t mean it happened. I could quote you chapter and verse of decades of Zionist intention to dispossess the Palestinians, it doesn’t mean it happened, as you would assert (although in that case it did). For example, I do not believe the full quotation of Khaled al-`Azm supports or fully support what you are asserting, and Benny Morris entirely discounts Azm. The quotation of Nimr el Hawari is especially weak sauce. Assuming that Palestinian Arabs were called upon to “conduct their wives and children to safe areas” this does not mean that they fled the land between the river and the sea. I’m sure that you know that the cruelty of the Zionists was so abject that even those who were still in Palestine only kilometers from their homes were not allowed to return to them. Indeed, because of the Absentee Property Laws, Israel created Present Absentees, those who were actually in ’48 Israel but not in their residences during the war and who were still not allowed to return to their homes.

        The sparse quotes that you provide pale in comparison to the work of those like Erskine Childers and others who could find no evidence of any orders by the Arab High Committee instructing the Palestinians to flee, but who also found strong evidence that the Palestinians were urged to stay in place. In addition, it is no coincidence that the refugees at times fled when civilian population centers were under indiscriminate shelling by the Zionists, as happened in Gaza. Surely you are not suggesting that, by serendipity, the Arab High Committee ordered people in Gaza to flee at the very moment that the Irgun started shelling Gaza indiscriminately?

        What do Jewish refugees from Arab countries have to do with the Palestinian refugees? Let me give you an example. Let’s say Moses expels Omar in Lydda to the West Bank in July 1948. Then in 1950, Abdul expels Abraham from Iraq. Now Omar sues Moses for expelling him. As a defense, can Moses interpose that Abdul expelled Abraham in Iraq? If you have any support for such a legal defense, I’d love to see it. I guess you’d call it the “but look what he did over there” defense. Maybe Paul Manafort can defend his years of criminality by saying look what Trump did.

      • Richard Falk November 29, 2018 at 7:43 am #


        A very cogent response..and judicially framed.


      • Andrew Keith November 28, 2018 at 4:22 pm #

        Fred: I saw your list of attacks and omitted to acknowledge them. I do my best proof reading right after I hit send.

        Fair enough. Certainly the Palestinians have agency and terrorist attacks against innocent civilians should be condemned. But collective punishment is wrong.

        I stand by the overall gist of my comments and what I believe to be the root cause of the conflict.

      • Andrew Keith November 29, 2018 at 9:12 am #

        Please note that in my long, November 28th comment posted at 4:00 p.m., Gaza should read Jaffa, in 2 places. The Irgun indiscriminately shelled civilians in Jaffa, causing a widespread flight.

      • Fred Skolnik November 29, 2018 at 4:48 pm #

        You made the absurd statement that the “intervention” of the Arab armies prevented “ethnic cleansing” and I pointed out that there were no expulsions in the Dec.-Apr. period but there was certainly large-scale flight at the well-documented urging of Arab leaders. If you want more quotes in addition to my “sparse” ones I’ll gladly supply them. Ignoring what displeases you won’t work. You also made false statements about terrorist attacks in the 1968-1988 period and about “naked aggression” in 1956 and I corrected them too. As for the “naked aggression” of 1967, King Hussein in his book on the war (p. 60 ff.) has explained why he attacked Israel in 1967 (Nasser deceived him, etc., etc.). You are making too many false statements and wild allegations for your own good. As to your idea that things would have been better if Israel had treated the Palestinians with dignity and respect in 1967, that is exactly what Israel did under Dayan’s Open Bridges policy of 1967-1973 when there were no settlements and whose (naïve) intent was to show the West Bank Arabs that Israelis were not after all demons and monsters as they had been taught to think. It included free movement of West Bank and Gaza Arabs into Israel as well as to and from Jordan across the bridges, tens of thousands working in Israel, agricultural extension services offered to West Bank farmers, and minimal military presence. The Arab response was the message of Khartoum and the murderer of Israeli children among many others by Arab terrorists.

        UN Res. 194 resolved that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” This condition was never fulfilled as the two sides dug in behind armistice lines in an ongoing conflict in which the Arabs refused to “live at peace” with Israel, vowing to destroy it instead.

        Of course the Jewish refugees from Arab lands are relevant. The State of Israel was at war with the entire Arab world and the Jews were displaced in the context of this war
        The cause of the Arab-Israel conflict is the inability of the Arab world to reconcile itself to the existence of a sovereign non-Muslim state in the Middle East in lands that it conquered in the 7th century in the name of Allah. The Arabs did not own the Middle East, any more than they owned Spain and Persia. Azzam’s statement in the name of the Arab League reflects perfectly Arab thinking and the invading Arab armies acted precisely in this spirit. A compromise was offered, the Jews accepted it, the Arabs rejected it and chose war.

      • Andrew Keith November 29, 2018 at 5:00 pm #

        Richard Falk, thanks for your kind words, they are greatly appreciated.

      • Andrew Keith November 29, 2018 at 8:15 pm #

        Fred Skolnik:

        My exact statement about the number of terrorist attacks between 1967 and 1987 was:

        “I’m curious as to how much violence there was between 1967 and 1987. I’m betting not much.” In other words, I readily admitted that didn’t know how many there were.

        Nonetheless, you now state that I,” also made false statements about terrorist attacks in the 1968-1988 period.”

        Your assertion is blatantly false and is a libel. (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t waste my time suing you.)

        Absent an apology for this blatantly fraudulent statement, I am not going to waste my time debating with someone who makes blatant misrepresentations, with the exception of the following.

        You mention Dayan’s Open Bridges policy of 1967-1973, and state that there were no settlements during that time period. You also state that the, “Arab response was the message of Khartoum and the murderer of Israeli children among many others by Arab terrorists.” Sir, the first Israeli settlement was Kfar Etzion and it was established months after the six-day war, probably under the guise of being a military outpost, I can’t remember. You have once more misrepresented a basic fact. You might also want to familiarize yourself with the Allon Plan that was formulated shortly after the ’67 war and which addressed colonizing the West Bank. However, certainly before 1974 there were not many settlements.

        During the duration of the Open Bridges policy, the vast majority of West Bank Palestinians did not engage in any violence. Indeed, the list that you provided for this time period bears this out:

        1. Nov 22, 1968 – Jerusalem, Israel 12 killed and 52 injured by a car bomb in the Mahaneh Yehuda market.

        2. Feb 21, 1969 – Jerusalem, Israel 2 killed and 20 injured by a bomb detonated in a crowded supermarket.

        3. Oct 22, 1969 – Haifa, Israel 4 killed and 20 wounded by terrorist bombs in 5 apartments.

        4. May 22, 1970 – Avivim, Israel Terrorists attack school bus, killing 12 (9 of whom were children), and wounding 24.

        5. May 30, 1972 – Lod airport 26 killed and 78 wounded after PFLP and Japanese Red Army terrorists open fire in the passenger terminal.

        6. Sep 5, 1972 – Munich, Germany 11 members of the Israeli Olympic wrestling team and 1 German policeman were massacred by Fatah terrorists after an unsuccessful rescue attempt by West German authorities.

        While any of these attacks is one too many, 6 attacks in about 7 years is not wide scale violence. A fortiori where one cannot automatically attribute all of these acts of terrorism (and the other ones you listed) to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. In this regard, the Munich massacre, number 6, did not even take place in Israel. In addition, I’m sure that Israel’s actions from 1948-1967 motivated some attacks.

        In any event, even if all of these act of terrorism were the result of the occupation of the West Bank, they in no way justify the collective punishment of millions of innocent civilians.

        Assuming that you will not be man enough to apologize, adieu.

      • Richard Falk November 30, 2018 at 8:35 am #

        I agree with your response, including the sign off last line. I have gone back and forth over
        the years deciding whether it is worth the effort to respond to Fred S.. He is relentless, never
        acknowledges ambiguity, much less admits erroneous reasoning on his part, e.g. the relevance of
        Arab expulsions of Jews during the 1948 War or the supposed entitlement of the Zionist movement
        to establish a sovereign state in non-Jewish society in defiance of the will of the majority.

        You gave Fred more respect than he deserves by taking seriously his commentary by offering convincing
        refutations. I appreciate your diligence, and as I say, your anger at the distortions of your views.


      • Fred Skolnik December 2, 2018 at 9:36 am #

        Dear Prof. Falk, I would gladly absent myself from these pages of yours if you did not persist in misrepresenting and falsifying the history of the conflict. Have you ever, by the way, “acknowledged ambiguity, much less admitted erroneous reasoning on your part”? Don’t be such a hypocrite.

        To say that the displacement of nearly one million Jews from Arab lands as a direct consequence of the 1948 war is irrelevant is about as preposterous a statement as it is possible to make. Would you make the same statement about the displacement of Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs in the Indian-Pakistani war?

        The “Jewish sovereign state in non-Jewish society in defiance of the will of the majority” mantra is also a falsification. As I’ve said more than once, the Arabs did not own the Middle East any more than they owned Persia and Spain. When Zionist settlement began in the Land of Israel in the early 1880s, around 450,000 Arabs were living in a territory that today accommodates over 10 million people and the partition plan mapped out a Jewish state in a territory where there was a majority of Jews, with half the designated Jewish territory a barely habitable desert (the Negev).

        We both know why you avoid addressing any issue on a strictly factual basis.

      • Richard Falk December 2, 2018 at 5:32 pm #

        Your polemical tactic of starting off with an insult, and then reasserting an old
        argument that I find implausible, although I do not doubt that you find it convincing
        and reassuring. I understand your historical claim of legitimacy for the Zionist movement
        but it does not convince me that the existing 20th century inhabitants should have been
        displaced or rendered second class citizens in their own societies during a historical period
        where colonialist movements became totally discredited. Again, their were important moral
        foundations for the Zionist project, but it falls short of dealing with the Palestinian
        people in a humane or politically appropriate manner. Your dogmatism does not convey any
        effort to find common ground, and as I say, alienates from the start with its insults. To
        insist that I am ‘misrepresenting and falsifying,’ implying my malicious intent in ways that
        leave you standing alone on the bedrock of fact and correct interpretation, which may be satisfying
        for you, but makes no impact on anyone seeking to understand the complexities involved.

      • Fred Skolnik December 2, 2018 at 9:37 pm #

        But you are falsifying and misrepresenting the conflict and to say so is no more insulting than your characterizations of my arguments. Arabs were displaced as the result of a war and in the State of Israel are a national minority with a status no different from that of national minorities anywhere, exacerbated by their identification with an Arab world hostile to Israel. I am certainly not standing alone. You don’t seem to realize that you have become a pariah among fair-minded and rational people and that most people support Israel in its war against the terrorists and certainly acknowledge Israel’s legitimacy in every respect.

      • Richard Falk December 3, 2018 at 8:19 am #

        We are not ‘falsifying and misrepresenting,’ we are ‘interpreting’ issues differently
        than you are, with no less authority or respect for facts and rights. If you would cease to
        frame your arguments with introductory insults you might be able to have a civil discussion
        in this comment section.

      • Andrew Keith December 3, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

        Thanks again for your kind words, Richard. In my opinion, you are wasting your time with Fred Skolnick, he just continues his misrepresentations. To state that, “Arabs were displaced as the result of a war and in the State of Israel are a national minority with a status no different from that of national minorities anywhere,” is just sheer poppycock. As to the latter argument, under Israel’s 1950 Right of Return Law and 1952 Citizenship Law (disingenuously translated into English from the Hebrew by Israel as a Nationality Law, which it is decidedly not), Israel set up a two-tiered system: one for Jews, who are nationals of Israel and can automatically become citizens; a second for non-Jews, who can become citizens, but can never become nationals of Israel. This cannot be denied.

        As to the former, Fred will never be convinced despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

      • Richard Falk December 4, 2018 at 7:00 am #

        Andrew: I know and agree with all you say, and like an addict, I commit myself
        to ignoring the insults and taunts, but somehow the ethos of engagement that underlay
        my decades of teaching, lured me back to the fray on several occasions. Each time the
        futility of any effort to have a real dialogue with Fred leads me to another ritual
        of renunciation. I have decided to live with this rhythm as reflecting the push and
        pull of not ignoring views I find beyond the pale of reasonable disagreement.

      • Fred Skolnik December 4, 2018 at 8:22 am #

        Allow me to reply civilly to Mr. Keith.

        “Poppycock” is not an argument. The displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs was a result of the war. No war, no refugees.

        Arabs cannot become nationals of Israel in the same way that Kurds cannot become nationals of Turkey. They are both national minorities. For a Kurd to become a Turkish national he has to cease being a Kurd. For an Arab to become a Jewish national he has to convert. This may not be to your liking but that is the historical Jewish system of “naturalization,” namely the way someone becomes part of the Jewish nation, which in reality accommodates even atheists. No one will spy on a convert to see if he is sincere, just as no one will spy on a naturalized American to see if he lives up to his pledge.

        Being a citizen and not a national of the country you live in has been the case in dozens of countries and need not be a disability though more often than not it is. I would say that in Israel, though the Druze may have what to complain about, they are on the whole satisfied and certainly wish to remain Druze. The condition of Israeli Arabs, on the other hand, has been exacerbated, as I mentioned, by their identification with an Arab world that is hostile to Israel.

      • Richard Falk December 4, 2018 at 10:51 am #

        I appreciate the change of tone.

        However, the argument about Israeli ‘normalcy’ with respect to nationality laws cannot be serious. I have
        no time to enumerate all the discriminatory laws on the books in Israel associated with unlimited rights of
        return for Jews and the exclusion of others, denial of family reunification for Palestinians, etc., etc..To
        the extent other countries have such law they would violate international law human rights standards relating
        to non-discrimination based on race or ethnicity.

        As far as I know, the Kurdish problem in Turkey was the opposite. Turkish law insisted on Kurds being treated
        as Turks, what Ataturk called ‘mountain Turks’ so as to avoid a minority identity. I am not sure of the present
        law, but I doubt that it denies Kurds the possibility of Turkish nationality.

      • Fred Skolnik December 4, 2018 at 11:02 am #

        I’m sorry but dozens of countries have immigration laws favoring their own nationals. You can be sure that if the Palestinians ever get a state, any Palestinian who wants it will automatically be granted citizenship, and rightly so, and no one would complain about it. Certainly I wouldn’t. Would you?

        Family unification is not a given in international law when two peoples are at war and one side engages in acts of terrorism. Becoming a Turkish national means being a Turk, which means ceasing to be a Kurd. I think you are yourself confusing citizenship rights and national identity. Ataturk may have wished for the Kurds to relinquish their Kurdish nationality but the Kurds refused to do so and remained a national minority with all this entails.

      • Fred Skolnik December 5, 2018 at 9:43 am #

        Have you forgotten to post my reply?

  2. Marcela Gimenez Jurado November 19, 2018 at 7:07 am #

    Excellent! Thank you for writing this

  3. Beau Oolayforos November 19, 2018 at 11:00 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    Macron’s confusion recalls that sordid affair where Sarozky (and his wife?) got seriously played around the great Rwanda massacre, duped into supporting exactly the wrong side. Alors, doucement, mon petit Emmanuel…. And of course the US State Dept. has always been conflicted; never more than now.

    The stuff about psychiatric exams hardly deserves comment, except as fodder for jokes….”Since you are so woefully be-nighted, perhaps you’d like to participate in some of our Medical Experiments….”

  4. Kata Fisher November 20, 2018 at 12:19 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk, All religions are perverse both in their writing and practice. Still, all of that is part of human exsistance in 21 century. However, human identity is based on person – regardless if in natural, unnatural or supernatural conciance. However, in present times – you will find the link and corallation between perversity of religion and politics – and how identity of person / or human should or should not be practiced. Antisemetic people 1) divide the people / or person – or devise the Land which is ancient … and if we are slightly blind – or fall or smears of the wickedness of the wicked – that becomes Antisemetic problem to a person. That person is not Antisemetic? (Most of us don’t have Thanksgiving this week – but those who do we do hope they have Gracefull time).

  5. David November 22, 2018 at 6:29 am #

    The core of the argument is the following assertion and conclusion at the end of the first paragraph, “The false premise is equating Zionism with Jews, automatically making criticism and opposition to the Zionist state of Israel as anti-Semitism.” There is no evidence or reasoning presented to support the assertion that equating Zionism with Jews is a false premise. Nor does it follow from that assertion that all criticism of Israel is therefore antisemitic.

    • David November 22, 2018 at 6:32 am #

      To add, there is not even any evidence presented that Zionists actually make the argument that Zionism equates to Jews, as opposed to being closely related to Jews.


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