Sunday, 25 December 2011

Book Review: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

One of the most often cited books claiming that the state of Israel ethnically cleansed its Arab population during the 1948 War for Israel's Independence is Ilan Pappé's 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine'.

Since this is used so often in arguments against Israel, it's important to learn why and how this book is so dishonest. Here is a review by Seth Franzman on the Middle East Forum's website. This is a little long, but just so worth it.

What makes Franzman's review so compelling isn't just his eloquence, or that he puts down Pappé junk scholarship so well. It's that at the time of writing, Franzman was a doctoral candidate in historical geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which means unique access to files and archives not necessarily open to anyone else, including the Hagannah archives Pappé accessed...

Review Essay: Flunking History

Among many Israeli academics and Western revisionists, it has become fashionable to examine Israel's war of independence from an Arab perspective in which Jews were the aggressors and Arabs the victims. This trend began in 1989 with works by Ben-Gurion University professor Benny Morris and Oxford University professor Avi Shlaim, and developed further with the writings of the late Hebrew University anthropologist Baruch Kimmerling, Neve Gordon at Ben-Gurion University, and Meron Benvenisti, a political scientist who served as deputy mayor of Jerusalem between 1971 and 1978.

Many of these so-called New Historians and their fellow travelers may have embraced the notion of reverse victimization in order to rationalize the unexpected survival of Israel in the 1948 and 1967 wars. They present every massacre of Jews as an understandable response to a Jewish offense, for example portraying both the April 13, 1948 Mount Scopus convoy massacre and the May 15, 1948 murders of fifty Jews who had surrendered to the Arab Legion at Gush Etzion as an Arab reprisal for the April 9-11, 1948 Irgun attack on the Arab village of Deir Yassin.

Pappé's Polemics

Ilan Pappé has now seized on what the New Historians started and brought it to new heights by promoting revisionist arguments that place exclusive blame on early Zionists for victimizing Arabs and destroying opportunities for peace and reconciliation. Indeed, it has become the strategy by which Pappé has salvaged his turbulent career: He left Haifa University in 2007 after the exposure of his research errors undercut his master's thesis and his endorsement of the British boycott of Israeli universities prompted the president of the university to call for his resignation. From his new position at the University of Exeter, he has promoted his 2006 book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which argues that even prior to Israel's independence, Zionist officials plotted to expel Arabs from Palestine.

Pappé's thesis is that Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, working with the Zionist leadership in Palestine, made special preparations for ethnic cleansing known as Plan D. This plan envisioned the conquest by the Haganah—the Mandate-era precursor to the Israeli army—of areas occupied by Arabs but allotted by the United Nations to the Jewish state.
Pappé's evidence for a Zionist plan to cleanse Palestine of its Arab population derives from his interpretations of the Haganah archives and the Israel State Archives files. Among the evidence Pappé finds damning are Haganah intelligence surveys of Arab villages, including information on the number of armed men, the mukhtars (village or neighborhood headmen), and any anti-Zionist activities. Pappé uses the presence of such lists to suggest parallels between Jewish suffering during the Holocaust and Palestinian Arab suffering as a result of Israel's creation.

Pappé also argues that Jewish forces, whether Haganah, Irgun, or the Lehi group, which sought to evict the British from Palestine, attacked Arab villages prior to the May 15, 1948 Israeli declaration of independence. He writes:
On a cold Wednesday afternoon, 10 March 1948, a group of eleven men, veteran Zionist leaders together with young military Jewish officers, put the final touches to a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. That same evening, military orders were dispatched to the units on the ground to prepare for the systematic expulsion of the Palestinians from vast areas of the country … When it was over, more than half of Palestine's native population, close to 800,000 people, had been uprooted.
This passage, characteristic of so much of Pappé's book, is a cynical exercise in manipulating evidence to fit an implausible thesis. Yigal Yadin, the chief of operations of the Haganah, adopted Plan D on March 10, 1948, as part of preparations for the onset of open warfare between Arabs and Jews in Palestine that the Arabs themselves were promising would follow a declaration of statehood. Morris described it as "a blueprint for securing the emergent Jewish state and the blocs of settlements outside the state's territory against the expected [Arab] invasion on or after 15 May," but recognized that "Plan D was not a political blueprint for the expulsion of Palestine's Arabs."

Pappé does not agree and says that new material from Israeli military archives, a reassessment of older material, and Palestinian oral history suggest that the plan was far more nefarious. But Pappé, in this example as in many others, is blinded by his need to fit events into a preferred narrative, and what little new evidence he includes does not persuade when considered in the context of historical events—a context that Pappé rigorously obscures.

The Importance of Context

Pappé would have his readers believe that in the years before the Israeli declaration of statehood, the Arabs living in Mandatory Palestine were lacking in the hostility to Jews that made Jewish war-planning necessary. To take just one time period, between the U.N. General Assembly vote to partition Palestine on November 29, 1947, and Israeli independence almost six months later, Arab irregulars killed 1,256 Jews in Palestine —almost all of whom were civilians. Pappé might be onto something if Plan D had been drafted in the absence of Arab violence against Jews, or if the Arab states surrounding Palestine were not so serious about answering the declaration of a Jewish state with a war of annihilation. But inconveniently for Pappé, those were the realities of the time—realities that undermine the thesis of his book.
The Palestine Post provides a detailed window into the period. Between 1932 and 1948, the paper, which would later change its name to The Jerusalem Post, was Mandatory Palestine's newspaper of record. An English-language daily, it catered both to Palestine's British administrators and the relatively small number of Jewish residents in Palestine who spoke English. It was not always sympathetic to Zionists, especially not to those who resorted to force of arms, and often sided editorially with the British against the Irgun and Stern Gang. For instance, on February 20, 1948, it headlined a story about an Irgun attack on British servicemen, "Terrorists Murder Soldier in Jerusalem." And rather than ignore the Arab population, The Palestine Post perhaps overemphasized their claims. Analysis of the newspaper's casualty reports shows that between November 1947 and May 1948, it over-reported Arab casualties threefold when its figure of over 3,500 is compared to British Mandatory statistics. The editors of The Palestine Post did not know how history would be written, and there is every reason to believe the reports between November 29, 1947, and May 15, 1948, sought to depict events accurately.

Nor should historians ignore context, as Pappé willfully does. Those who read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine will not learn that in the first week after the passage of the U.N. partition plan, Arabs murdered 62 Jews. In the following month, Arabs killed an additional 200. By March 1, 1948, 546 Jews had been murdered and, by Ben-Gurion's declaration of independence, the total was over 1,000. Arab paramilitaries, militias, and terrorists besieged Jerusalem and cut the Jewish neighborhoods' water supplies and surrounded Jewish villages in the Negev. Arab snipers attacked Jews in Haifa and other mixed villages. A sniper from Beit Dajan shot a 14-year-old girl, and Arab fighters attacked more than a dozen kibbutzim between December 1947 and March 1948. Massacres were common: Arab rioters killed 39 Jews at Haifa's oil refinery on December 30, 1947, and two weeks later Arab irregulars killed 35 Jews trying to reach Gush Etzion. On February 1, 1948, an Arab terrorist blew up The Palestine Post building and, three weeks later, a terrorist's bomb killed 44 Jews on Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda Street. Massacres continued for weeks both inside Palestine and in the neighboring states. On March 21, the bodies of 11 missing Jews were found; three had been burned. Local Arab villagers or Bedouins may have precipitated the autumn 1947 violence, but by spring 1948, Arab volunteers from Iraq and Syria were increasingly participating. On April 11, 1948, for example, Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood attacked Kfar Darom near Gaza City.

In this context—a state of low-level terrorism and violence that Pappé, given the narrative he wishes to promote, is loath to disclose—it is not the least bit curious that Zionist leaders in Palestine were developing plans to defend themselves in the case of the outbreak of full-scale war. It would indeed be strange if Jewish strategists were not doing so.

The Real "Plan D"

While no scholar disputes that Zionist leaders adopted Plan D, Pappé's argument—that Plan D is evidence of a desire to conduct ethnic cleansing and constituted a war crime—is a leap of logic. The reality of that time period is one in which Jewish leaders were faced with problems far more urgent and existential than altering the ethnic makeup of certain territories. On the same day that the Zionist leadership adopted Plan D, British Mandate authorities admitted that Fauzi el-Kaukji, leader of the Arab Liberation Army, was in Palestine operating in Samaria. Snipers attacked Jews in Haifa, and Arabs launched mortar attacks on Tel Aviv. There were reports that British forces were evacuating. The Zionist decision to seize land to deny Arab attackers strategic territorial advantages was inevitable and motivated by legitimate military considerations. Villages such as Ishwa and Jaffa hosted foreign fighters from Iraq, Syria, and even Yugoslavia, and thereby, sacrificed their status as noncombatant areas.

The decision to implement Plan D had little effect on the Arab forces, which continued their assault on all parts of the Jewish yishuv (the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine). As Arab forces tried to isolate and eradicate pockets of Jews, Jews traveled in convoys that often became the focus of Arab ambushes, some of which involved more than 500 Arabs. Major Plan D operations, such as Operation Nachson to open the road to besieged Jerusalem, began on April 6, just five weeks before Israel's independence.

Nor do the lists that Pappé finds so damning provide conclusive evidence of malfeasance. Cobbled together over the course of the decade before Israel's independence, the Haganah lists were not a blueprint but rather an intelligence assessment. In 1943, the Palmach (the Haganah's regular fighting force) and the Haganah Intelligence Service began to survey villages in order to evaluate their capabilities should hostilities erupt. Jewish pilots also conducted aerial surveys.

These intelligence assessments were so parochial that, today, they could serve as a resource for research into Arab village life of the Mandate period. One representative Haganah intelligence report surveys the hamlet of Beit Umm el-Mais near Jerusalem and reveals that the sons of Hasan al-Jura moved to the ruins of the village around 1905, that the village consisted of one clan, and that its residents were illiterate and had no connections to nearby kibbutzim. The only terror suspect was Ismail Hamdan, who was involved in the 1936-39 Arab revolt. The village possessed 11 modern rifles divided among 25 men. Another Haganah report noted that the nearby village of Beit Thul was 300 years old, possessed 400 sheep, and that Arab nationalists persecuted members of the village during the revolt.

Nor were the Zionists the only ones to make such assessments. The British kept similar intelligence about kibbutzim and Arab villages alike, especially during the Arab Revolt, noting items such as the presence of weaponry and the extent of illegal immigration. Such British lists are evidence of military preparedness and routine intelligence collection, not evidence of plans to ethnically cleanse the Jewish population. Moreover, the Haganah files may have saved Israeli lives by portraying an accurate picture of Arab defenses and probably saved Arab lives by enabling the Israel Defense Forces to avoid collateral damage.

As a work of scholarship, Pappé's book falls short, and it does so in a particularly damning way. He ignores context and draws far broader conclusions than evidence allows by cherry-picking some reports and ignoring other sources entirely. He does not examine Arab intentions in the five months between the U.N. endorsement of Palestinian partition and Israel's independence, nor does he consider the widespread public statements by Arab officials in Palestine and in neighboring states declaring their goal of eradicating the Jewish presence in Palestine. It is obvious why a polemicist such as Pappé would cleanse—so to speak—his narrative of any such references: To avoid doing so would strike at the core of the reality that he wishes to foist upon his readers, one which precisely inverts the historical record and turns a coordinated Arab attempt at ethnically cleansing Palestine of its Jews into a Jewish attempt at ethnically cleansing Arabs.

Pappé's writings may win plaudits among his new British peers, whose disdain for the state of Israel is legendary. But his disregard for the obligations of the historian and his indifference to academic integrity condemn his work to the realm of the polemic, not scholarship.


For complete references go to the MEF website:

Some of you may be surprised (and interested) at this recently discovered picture archive in the US Library of Congress showing that history isn't as black and white as Pappé attempts to paint it. Here are pictures of Jews being ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem; having their homes raided etc.

And if anyone's interested in proper history of the founding of the modern State of Israel, here are a couple of good places to start:

The Caped Crusader

Monday, 19 December 2011

Simon Deng with Pamela Geller - Two great counter-jihadists

"Simon Deng, a former South Sudanese slave in Islamist Northern Sudan, gave the following speech at the Durban Watch Conference in New York on Sept. 22nd.
I want to thank the organizers of this conference, The Perils of Global Intolerance.
It is a great honor for me and it is a privilege really to be among today’s distinguished speakers.

I came here as a friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I came to protest this Durban conference which is based on a set of lies. It is organized by nations who are themselves are guilty of the worst kinds of oppression.
It will not help the victims of racism. It will only isolate and target the Jewish state. It is a tool of the enemies of Israel. The UN has itself become a tool against Israel. For over 50 years, 82% of the UN General Assembly emergency meetings have been about condemning one state, Israel and Hitler couldn’t have been made happier.

The Durban Conference is an outrage. All decent people will know that.
But friends, I come here today with a radical idea. I come to tell you that there are peoples who suffer from the UN’s anti-Israelism even more than the Israelis. I belong to one of those people.

Please hear me out.
By exaggerating Palestinian suffering, and by blaming the Jews for it, the UN has muffled the cries of those who suffer on a far larger scale.
For over fifty years the indigenous black population of Sudan, Christians and Muslims alike, has been the victim of the brutal, racist Arab Muslim regimes in Khartoum.
In South Sudan, my homeland, about 4 million innocent men, women and children were slaughtered from 1955 to 2005. Seven million were ethnically cleansed and they became the largest refugee group since World War II.
The UN is concerned about the so-called Palestinian refugees. They dedicated a separate agency for them. and they are treated with a special privilege.
Meanwhile, my people, ethnically cleansed, murdered and enslaved, are relatively ignored. The UN refuses to tell the world the truth about the real causes of Sudan’s conflicts.
Who knows really what is happening in Darfur?

It is not a "tribal conflict".
It is a conflict rooted in Arab colonialism well-known in north Africa.
In Darfur, a region in the Western Sudan, everybody is Muslim. Everybody is Muslim because the Arabs invaded the North of Africa and converted the indigenous people to Islam.
In the eyes of the Islamists in Khartoum, the Darfuris are not Muslim enough. And the Darfuris do not want to be Arabized. They love their own African languages and dress and customs.
The Arab response is genocide!
But nobody at the UN tells the truth about Darfur.
In the Nuba Mountains, another region of Sudan, genocide is taking place as I speak.
The Islamist regime in Khartoum is targeting the black Africans, Muslims and Christians.
Nobody at the UN has told the truth about the Nuba Mountains.
Do you hear the UN condemn Arab racism against blacks?
What you find on the pages of the New York Times, or in the record of the UN condemnations is "Israeli crimes" and "Palestinian suffering".
My people have been driven off the front pages because of the exaggerations about Palestinian suffering.
What Israel does is portrayed as a Western sin.
But the truth is that the real sin happens when the West abandons us: the victims of Arab/Islamic apartheid.
Chattel slavery was practiced for centuries in Sudan. It was revived as a tool of war in the early 90s.
Khartoum declared jihad against my people and this legitimized taking slaves as war booty.
Arab militias were sent to destroy Southern villages and were encouraged to take African women and children as slaves.

We believe that up to 200,000 were kidnapped, brought to the North and sold into slavery.
I am a living proof of this crime against humanity.
I don’t like talking about my experience as a slave, but I do it because it is important for the world to know that slavery exists even today.
I was only nine years old when an Arab neighbor named Abdullahi tricked me into following him to a boat.
The boat wound up in Northern Sudan where he gave me as a gift to his family.
For three and a half years I was their slave going through something that no child should ever go through: brutal beatings and humiliations; working around the clock; sleeping on the ground with animals; eating the family’s left-overs.
During those three years I was unable to say the word "no". All I could say was "yes", "yes", "yes".

The United Nations knew about the enslavement of South Sudanese by the Arabs.
Their own staff reported it.
It took UNICEF, under pressure from the Jewish led American Anti-Slavery Group sixteen years to acknowledge what was happening.
I want to publicly thank my friend Dr. Charles Jacobs for leading the anti-slavery fight.
But the Sudanese government and the Arab League pressured UNICEF, and UNICEF backtracked, and started to criticize those who worked to liberate Sudanese slaves.
In 1998, Dr. Gaspar Biro, the courageous UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan who reported on slavery, resigned in protest of the UN’s actions.
My friends, today, tens of thousands of black South Sudanese still serve their masters in the North and the UN is silent about that.

It would offend the OIC and the Arab League.
As a former slave and a victim of the worst sort of racism, allow me to explain why I think calling Israel a racist state is absolutely absurd and immoral.
I have been to Israel five times visiting the Sudanese refugees.
Let me tell you how they ended up there.
These are Sudanese who fled Arab racism, hoping to find shelter in Egypt.
They were wrong.

When Egyptian security forces slaughtered twenty-six black refugees in Cairo who were protesting Egyptian racism, the Sudanese realized that the Arab racism is the same in Khartoum or Cairo.
They needed shelter and they found it in Israel.
Dodging the bullets of the Egyptian border patrols and walking for very long distances, the refugees’ only hope was to reach Israel’s side of the fence, where they knew they would be safe.
Black Muslims from Darfur chose Israel above all the other Arab-Muslim states of the area.
Do you know what this means!!!??
And the Arabs say Israel is racist!!!?
In Israel, black Sudanese, Christian and Muslim were welcomed and treated like human beings.
Just go and ask them, like I have done.
They told me that compared to the situation in Egypt, Israel is "heaven".
Is Israel a racist state?
To my people, the people who know racism, the answer is absolutely not.
Israel is a state of people who are the colors of the rainbow.
Jews themselves come in all colors, even black.
I met with Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Beautiful black Jews.

So, yes, I came here today to tell you that the people who suffer most from the UN anti-Israel policy are not the Israelis but all those people who the UN ignores in order to tell its big lie against Israel: we, the victims of Arab/Muslim abuse: women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, homosexuals, in the Arab/Muslim world. These are the biggest victims of UN Israel hatred.
Look at the situation of the Copts in Egypt, the Christians in Iraq, and Nigeria, and Iran, the Hindus and Bahais who suffer from Islamic oppression. The Sikhs.
We, a rainbow coalition of victims and targets of Jihadis, all suffer.
We are ignored, we are abandoned.
So that the big lie against the Jews can go forward.
In 2005, I visited one of the refugee camps in South Sudan. I met a twelve-year-old girl who told me about her dream. In a dream she wanted to go to school to become a doctor. And then, she wanted to visit Israel.
I was shocked.

How could this refugee girl who spent most of her life in the North know about Israel?
When I asked why she wanted to visit Israel, she said: "This is our people". I was never able to find an answer to my question.
On January 9 of 2011 South Sudan became an independent state.
For South Sudanese, that means continuation of oppression, brutalization, demonization, Islamization, Arabization and enslavement.

In a similar manner, the Arabs continue denying Jews their right for sovereignty in their homeland and the Durban III conference continues denying Israel’s legitimacy.
As a friend of Israel, I bring you the news that my President, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, publicly stated that the South Sudan embassy in Israel will be built, not in Tel Aviv, but in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
I also want to assure you that my own new nation, and all of its peoples, will oppose racist forums like the Durban III.
We will oppose it by simply telling the truth. Our truth.
My Jewish friends taught me something I now want to say with you.
The people of Israel lives!
Thank you!"

Please see also the following:


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Segment of Israeli Society Endorses Apartheid

Since 2006, when former US President Dhimmi Carter published the most factually accurate book since the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, there has been a continued slander of Israel comparing it to the Apartheid of South Africa.

At long last the issue has been settled. There is a small segment of Israeli society in favour of Apartheid and has been outraged at a plan to increase integration of Arabs and Jews.

In last week’s Haaretz, an article was published entitled “Israel paving road to link East Jerusalem neighborhoods to city center”. And this was followed by the subheading: “New route would link northeast neighborhoods to capital's [sic] main Begin Boulevard; Peace Now: Plan is illegal use of occupied land, endangers two-state solution.”

Now barring for the moment that it is not illegally occupied by Jews, and neither is there a chance of any solution, let alone a two-state solution, let’s go along with Peace Now’s assertions...

If we’re to understand correctly, the extreme leftist Peace Now NGO believes that because, at some point in the future, east and central Jerusalem will be part of two different nations, that there shouldn’t be roads linking them?

This notion is an absurd one. If anything, roads help peace. They are means of communication (ask the Romans). But let’s turn this around for a moment. What if Israel were to demolish all roads out of Gaza; would Peace Now approve of this?

Considering the left deny just how much aid Israel delivers to Gaza each week, and denies that these ‘Palestinians’ are allowed medical treatment inside Israel, Peace Now shouldn’t have a problem in demolishing these roads?

The article continues “Peace Now representatives argue that the "road's current route isn't legal, since the plan designates occupied territory for permanent infrastructures for the occupying power, while completely disregarding the needs of the Palestinian residents in Beit Hanina and the area."”

This is interesting! This is the first time I’ve ever heard that an allegedly undeveloped area would suffer because of increased methods of transportation to more prosperous and industrious areas. Links which could provide more business and trade, a link tourists could easily use (provided the Arab occupiers in Judea & Samaria stop attacking and killing strangers and the non-Muslim indigenous inhabitants).

The real reason the far left doesn’t want these roads built is the same reason the PA dictatorship doesn’t want these roads: to keep the conflict alive. And the main way to do that is via control of (Arab) public opinion1

With all the Nazi-style propaganda broadcast by the PA-controlled media, Mahmud Abbas keeps power by doing what the surrounding Arab dictators want. And that is to keep this fictitious ‘Palestinian’ people fighting and killing Jews. The state of Jordan, which denies these Arab refugees their basic human rights (by not absorbing them as Israel absorbed the 850,000 Jewish refugees ethnically cleansed from Arab lands in 1948), keep the conflict alive.

The thinking behind this "evil Zionist road colonisation" project is that if these ‘Palestinians’ gain access to an easy method of transportation to central Jerusalem (especially from the West Bank), they will come to see the propaganda that they’re fed on a daily basis as wrong, and that Jews and Christians can be trading/business partners, and possibly even human.

This is my best guess. Of course there are major cultural obstacles to such a positive outcome (such as jihad; and killing Jews tends to annoy them, for some reason), and considering that genocidal, slave-capturing Muslims first gained access to Africa via Arab tradesmen (who became useful spies when planning their attacks), one wonders in this instance who has the better idea!, the left or right?!


Monday, 5 December 2011

Erase The Past, Shape The Future

Like Melanie Phillips' article "The future of Hebron's Jewish past" from the 4th of Dec, I have also visited Hebron this year and been stunned at what I had seen; the quality of life for the Arabs there, contrasted with the poverty of the Jewish existence. The trip was an eye-opener, to say the least.

As the title of her latest book tells us, the world has been turned upside down!

From her blog (pics are mine): "Until recently, I had never been to Hebron. In the past three months, however, I have twice boarded an armoured bus to make the journey.

The first time was with a private, non-political group to visit Hebron's Jewish area and the Cave of Machpelah, where Abraham and the patriarchs and matriarchs are said to be buried.
It was a shock. If ever there was a illustration of the attempt by Islam to supersede Judaism, this was surely it.

This holy Jewish shrine was to all intents a mosque. Islamic prayer mats were piled high, and there seemed to be not one Jewish artefact in the place. Even the catafalques sporting labels claiming them as the tombs of the founders of Judaism were topped by Islamic crescents.

Those labels are hung only on the handful of days per year the Jews are allowed to visit. Hebron has become a synonym in the west for oppression of the Palestinians by 'crazed settlers', but it is in fact those Jewish residents who are hanging on by their fingernails to a minimal right of access to one of Judaism's holiest sites.

Their presence requires the IDF to ensure that access. Without the soldiers, does anyone seriously imagine Machpelah would not suffer the same fate as Joseph's Tomb in Nablus which, after the Israelis were forced to abandon it, was burned to the ground?

It is also grotesque to call them 'settlers' as if they are colonising land with which they have no connection. Jews have lived in Hebron for thousands of years but have been repeatedly driven out, as in the 1929 pogrom when Arabs slaughtered 67 adults and children.

[here are some snaps from the local museum commemorating the massacre. Click to enlarge]

The restored Jewish presence in a town of 130,000 Arabs is a mere 90 Jewish families, restricted to an area comprising some five per cent of the town. Far from the impression that Arab Hebron is wretched and impoverished, it is highly prosperous, delivering around one third of the West Bank's entire GDP.

Arab Hebron; villas, mosque, minaret
By contrast, the main street in the Jewish area is like a ghost town. Every Arab shop there is closed, because the IDF decided that the shops pose a mortal threat since, in the crowds of shoppers, Jews were repeatedly attacked with knives, acid, and once in a suicide-bombing resulting in the murder of at least two people.

The Jews are sitting ducks for snipers in the Arab houses on the hill towering above - from where the bullet was fired that murdered 10-month old Shalhevet Pass in her buggy in a playground in 2001.

Real aggression towards Arabs in Hebron should be unreservedly condemned. But any fair-minded person would surely conclude that, in general, it is the Jews who are under siege from a racist and murderous aggression. Is it not perverse to say that because Jews are living in Hebron once again (where, after all, they were given the right to settle under the Mandate) that is an act of aggression?

No Justice For Jews Under Oslo
My second trip was for a barmitzvah in Machpelah. Afterwards, we walked through the 'ghost town' with Israeli flags flying, to the sound of trumpet, shofar and drum.

Triumphalist? Aggressive? It felt instead like an expression of innocence and joy in the face of evil and hatred. Yet that hatred is not universal. Friendly relations have been established between local rabbis and the remarkable Sheikh Jabari, leader of Hebron's largest clan, who some years ago prevented the planned torching of a nearby synagogue.

Sheikh Jabari has publicly acknowledged the right of Jews to live in Hebron. Recently, he welcomed and blessed a group of Jewish visitors and declared that Machpelah should unite Jews and Arabs. Alas, Sheikh Jabari does not speak for the Palestinian Authority, which is intent on using its new membership of UNESCO to stop what it calls the 'Judaisation of the city'.

UNESCO has recognised Hebron as a 'Palestinian heritage site', demanding it be removed from Israel's own list of national heritage sites. Hebron's mayor has said that if the PA controlled the whole town, Jews would again be barred from Machpelah. UNESCO is merely the latest weapon the PA is deploying to erase the Jews from their own history.

In one corner, the PA is trying to ethnically cleanse the Jews again from Hebron; in the other, Sheikh Jabari is supporting the rights of the Jewish people to their own heritage. So which side are you on?"

There's one sign Melanie obviously didn't see, and that's the sign at the entrance to Tarpat Junction, this was the final straw for me.

By The Caped Crusader