Monday, December 5, 2016

Balfour, Rothschild, and the Ostrich

The following essay was published yesterday in The Jerusalem Post
and cross-posted at The Biblical Museum of Natural History website.

This July, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki spoke at an Arab League summit in Mauritania, and called to sue the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration. On October 25, the Palestinian Return Center held a symposium in the House of Lords to launch the “Balfour Apology Campaign.” This seeks an apology from the British government for the Balfour Declaration, which is claimed to reflect Britain’s “brutal colonial practices” in Palestine that went against “the rights and needs of the indigenous people.”

The Balfour Declaration was a letter issued by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in November 1917 in support of the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people. The letter itself was addressed to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community at the time. Although he was a scion of the legendary Rothschild family, which led to his important societal position, Walter did not share his family’s interests and aptitudes. He despised banking, had little interest in politics, was unaffiliated to Judaism, and until 1916 evinced no enthusiasm for Zionism. Walter was passionate about one thing only: animals.

Lord Walter Rothschild riding a giant tortoise
It is hard to overstate the eccentric Lord Walter Rothschild’s obsessive fervor for zoology. At his estate in Tring, he collected more specimens than anyone else in recorded history. Rothschild discovered and catalogued countless new species, over two hundred of which are named in his honor. Amongst his collection of live animals was a tame wolf, 144 giant tortoises, and flocks of cassowaries and kiwis, and he trained zebras to pull his carriage to Buckingham Palace.

Yet despite his lack of interest in his Jewish heritage, Rothschild knew something of it. For example, he once addressed a meeting of the British Ornithologist’s Club about the ostrich of the Bible. The background to this was that when Weizmann led the Zionist Commission to Palestine to implement the Balfour Declaration, Rothschild also charged him with another commission: “to find out what has become of two ostriches.” Israel Aharoni, the zoologist who pioneered the scientific study of the wildlife of the Holy Land and restored their Biblical Hebrew names, had sent Rothschild several eggs from ostriches found in the Middle East, and also told Rothschild that he was raising two chicks. Since the eggs looked somewhat different from the eggs of the ostriches known from Africa, Rothschild was eager to see the birds. Weizmann located Aharoni and managed to send the young ostriches to Rothschild, who observed several subtle ways in which they differed from African ostriches. Subsequently, Rothschild informed the British Ornithologist’s Club that this was a different subspecies, and designated it as Struthio camelus syriacus, the Syrian ostrich. In Rothschild’s address, he noted that there are several passages in the Bible relating to the ostrich.

Rothschild’s statement about biblical ornithology was correct. The Book of Lamentations refers to the ostriches (ye’enim) of the wilderness, and there are a variety of other verses in the Bible which have been understood as referring to ostriches (albeit that some argue them to refer to different species). The ostrich was also part of the culture of the Jews living in the Land of Israel in post-Biblical times. The Mishnah refers to vessels made from ostrich eggs. A later compilation from the Land of Israel, the Tosefta, notes that ostriches are classified as birds (presumably this was necessary to point out due to their inability to fly). The Jerusalem Talmud makes reference to ostriches eating gold, and the Midrash states that Noah brought shards of broken glass onto the Ark for the ostriches to eat; these seemingly strange statements are explicable in light of the fact that ostriches are required to eat rocks and other sharp items in order to break down the food that they consume, and will happily (and essentially) eat pieces of metal and glass to this end.

An ostrich at the Hai-Bar
nature reserve in Israel
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Syrian ostrich lived in the Negev and Sinai deserts; in 1929, an ostrich was caught near Be’er Sheva. Earlier in history there were also ostriches in the coastal regions of Israel, and ostrich eggs are still discovered there today. But the ostrich was having a hard time coexisting with the human inhabitants of the region. The soldier and ornithologist Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen recorded that Arabs prized ostrich eggs for food and hunted the adults for sport; the advent of guns, and cars from which to fire them, quickly caused the demise of the Syrian ostrich. The last known Syrian ostrich was washed up in a flood in the Arava in 1966.

Many species that were formerly indigenous to the region were hunted to extinction by the German Templers and Arabs in the early twentieth century. Some of them have since been reintroduced to the wild by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority. Mesopotamian fallow deer (the ayal of the Bible), bred from two pairs that were evacuated during the Iranian revolution from the animals being massacred at the Shah’s menagerie, have been reintroduced to the Judean hills and the Carmel. Onagers (the “wild asses” of the Bible) have also been successfully bred at the Hai-Bar nature reserve and reintroduced to the Negev. The beautiful white oryx (the Biblical dishon) became entirely extinct in the wild in the twentieth century, with just a few individuals remaining in private collections of Arab royalty, and political factors preventing efforts by British conservation groups to bring them to Israeli wildlife reserves; eventually, they were sent to American zoos, and their descendants have now been returned to their Biblical homeland. Attempts have also been made to release ostriches to the Negev, but these efforts have so far failed; it appears that the captive-born ostriches lacked the necessary survival skills. But Israel is not giving up. Ostriches are part of our natural and national history.

Every nation has its national animals—the animals that are part of its history, heritage and culture. For the Aboriginal tribespeople of Australia, their national animals are kangaroos and koalas. For the Eskimos of Alaska, it’s seals and whales. But what about the Jewish people? What are the animals of our history, heritage and culture? It’s not the gefilte fish and the chicken – Scripture makes no references at all to chickens, which had not yet been domesticated from their wild ancestors in India. The animals of our sacred writings are the lion and the leopard, the ibex and the hyrax, the hippopotamus and the hyena, the griffin vulture and the ostrich. These are not animals from New York or London or even the European shtetl. They are the animals that lived in the Land of Israel in the Biblical, Mishnaic and Talmudic period.

The Palestinians dispute the very raison d’ĂȘtre of the Jewish State. In the Balfour Apology Campaign and elsewhere, they portray the Jewish People as European colonialists. They reject the historical facts of the ancient Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. They deny the existence of the Temple and work at destroying archeological remains.

All of this is a denial of basic truths. Balfour rejected the Uganda Plan after Weitzman pointed out to him that the Jewish People have a connection to the Land of Israel spanning millennia – from long before Islam, and certainly long before the Palestinian national identity emerged in the twentieth century. We only left it when we were exiled, and we always dreamed of returning. The animals of our culture were not the eagles and rabbits of Europe; they were the griffin vultures, hyraxes and ostriches of the Land of Israel.

There can be no hope of a peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while the Palestinians are denying the fundamental historical truths that lie at the core of the dispute. Anyone pretending otherwise is sticking their head in the sand—just like ostriches don’t.

49 comments:

  1. "There can be no hope of a peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while the Palestinians are denying the fundamental historical truths that lie at the core of the dispute."

    Liberalism on steroids.

    Reality: there will be no solution to this conflict until one side makes the other one submit and accept its terms. The Palestinians cannot make us submit because they are nitwits fighting with rockets and certain forces in the American Empire ("international community") protect us from getting South Africafied; we cannot make them submit because we are disabled from doing so by the rest of the American Empire ("international community") and probably (although it's really hypothetical) our own sick leftism. We thus conclude that the conflict isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

    Of course, that's a deliberately materialistic, even atheistic, way of looking at the matter. Perhaps, Hashem has something to say about things too, but if He does, then we can be sure as chips as chips that it has nothing to do with the Palestinians recognizing our connection to ostriches.

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    1. I said that it is a necessary condition. I didn't say that it is a sufficient condition!

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    2. I really marvel at the fact that R' Slifkin's reasoning always seems to be more sound than everyone else's.

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    3. Gavriel M,

      We could easily make them submit (aka unconditional surrender) if we didn't have such an inferiority complex.

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    4. How do you suggest we could easily make them submit? Getting a large population to "submit" and then trying to control them is easy to say but very hard to do, unless you are talking about genocide.
      More likely, a peaceful resolution will involve some compromise, and not submission.

      Daniel Shain

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    5. Reality: there will be no solution to this conflict until one side makes the other one submit and accept its terms.

      Meanwhile, outside the bubble, in the real world, 1967 was a pretty one-sided outcome which didn't lead to your predicted outcome, while 1973 was a decide draw which did lead to a treaty with Egypt. Ditto Jordan.

      Also, which if the Protestants and Catholics submitted to the other to end that conflict? Also which of the Irish Unionists and Nationalists submitted in order to end that conflict?

      Treaty of Versailles was pretty much a total submission. Did a great job of ending that conflict.

      Reality: There are more things in heaven and earth, [Gavriel M], Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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    6. How do you suggest we could easily make them submit? Getting a large population to "submit" and then trying to control them is easy to say but very hard to do, unless you are talking about genocide.
      More likely, a peaceful resolution will involve some compromise, and not submission.

      Daniel Shain


      Some on this thread have imagined that Israel can pay off all 2.6 million Gaza and West Bank Arabs to leave (not sure what their plan is for Israeli Arabs). Of course you are correct that this will never happen.

      The other is answer is that God is on our side, so its OK.

      Finally, you have to realize is that one of the commenters on this thread thinks that slavery should be reinstated for the "inferior races". So a little ethnic cleansing is not going to register in his moral universe.

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    7. "How do you suggest we could easily make them submit? Getting a large population to "submit" and then trying to control them is easy to say but very hard to do, unless you are talking about genocide."

      Liberalism is a powerful drug, first you start with a few liberalism spliffs and before you know it you are living in a completely fictional universe. For examples of "large populations" submitting to people with more power than them, I submit the entirety of recorded history. Check it out, it's seriously interesting.

      As to Ohsie, who likes to put statements that no-one has made in quotation marks (an ethical quirk that presumably the good Lord allowed in return for Ohsie deigning to give him the wisdom of his long experience), he should understand the following: there is no such thing as asymmetric warfare. If one side is weaker than the other it either surrenders or loses. That's reality. If you see asymmetric warfare, check your math.

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    8. Gabriel martindale: If by submission you mean the sort of dominition that one country historically exercised over another, then Israel is already in that position over the Palestinians. The real question is how we get out of it.

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    9. @Yavoy: You don't need to bother trying to save an inane argument. When someone uses as evidence "the entirety of recorded history", you know that he's just bloviating. Let him cite the examples.

      @Gavriel/Gabriel: "Inferior races" was in quotes because I wanted to note that the concept is yours, not mine. I was not attempting a precise quotation. You have argued in the past that slavery is good, voting rights for American Blacks is bad, and that only a conspiracy theorist could doubt that "blacks are stupid". (Again, not a direct quotation; I just don't want this view attributed to me).

      Now you argue that there no such thing as asymmetric warfare. Which universe do you live in?

      Maybe you could actually describe in a bit more detail what should be done and some parallels from history so that we can actually evaluate your claim.

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    10. There is no such thing as asymmetric warfare. It is a literally ludicrous concept that could only appear plausible to people working within the hallucinogenic confines of a Lockean/Hobbesian anthropology. If the apparently much stronger side cannot simply defeat the apparently much weaker side, then the apparently weaker side is actually stronger than you think. Delusion aside, this obvious conclusion is obscured by two historical realities.

      1) In 2016, money can be moved from one side of the world to another in seconds and arms can me moved in days. As such, the relative strength of the overt participants in any given struggle is now usually an insignificant part of the total calculation. Everyone knows, or at least should know, for example, that a group of Salafist ninnies didn't suddenly become strong enough seven years ago to conquer large parts of Syria.
      2) During the 1950s and 60s when the US and the Soviet Union absorbed most of the old colonial empires they did so under the (equally preposterous in both cases) pretext that these countries had achieved "independence". Part of this narrative was that independence movements consisting of poorly organised illiterates and backed by “the winds of change” had actually (like, for real) forced e.g. the British empire to give up e.g. Kenya.

      Now, since I have been asked for examples, I will provide a very simple one that illustrates how history works in literally the opposite way to what liberals think. In 1941, FDR simply rounded up 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent and put them in concentration camps. Now, if thinking under the influence of liberalism, we would expect such an obvious and arbitrary violation of civil rights to have inspired "resistance" and a "cycle of violence". Instead, in reality, the anti-war movement, which had been extremely important, just melted away. Compare and contrast with the anti-war movement during the Vietnam war.

      Now let's take your *examples*.

      "Also, which if the Protestants and Catholics submitted to the other to end that conflict?"

      What is this conflict between "Protestants and Catholics"? Do you mean the Thirty Years War? What are you even talking about? Fail.
      http://www.mtsm.org/pdf/The%20Myth%20of%20Religious%20Violence.pdf


      "so which of the Irish Unionists and Nationalists submitted in order to end that conflict?"

      That's easy, both, to the UK government and “international community”, who got what they wanted.

      Now, since, apparently, this is not clear, I will reiterate that I am not arguing that the Israeli government can impose its will on Fatah and Hamas (I deliberately use this terminology instead of the misleading “Israel” and “Palestine”, which are not entities capable of doing anything at all.). I am arguing that it cannot do so because of the realities of internal power relations. Some would argue that, if the Israeli government defies the US, then Hashem will assist it, but the evidence of the Tanah suggests otherwise.

      Now, this is mostly pertinent because David Ohsie is a particularly pious subject of the American empire who would have us believe that its decrees are actually laws of human society emerging from the very structure of reality itself, or eternally valid dictates of universal morality and possibly both at the same time (as well as shouting heretic at anyone who objects to the USG’s enormous historical and ongoing crimes or demurs at its dogmas, which, since it irrelevant to this thread, I will overlook).

      Any which way, predicating peace on the “Palestinians” recognising our deep and profound connection to the land and its fauna is precisely backward. If it ever became clear to the PLO that the jig was up, they would recognise our claims so fast it would give you whiplash. In reality, something close to the reverse happened, which tells you what you need to know, if you want to.

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    11. There is no such thing as asymmetric warfare. It is a literally ludicrous concept that could only appear plausible to people working within the hallucinogenic confines of a Lockean/Hobbesian anthropology. If the apparently much stronger side cannot simply defeat the apparently much weaker side, then the apparently weaker side is actually stronger than you think. Delusion aside, this obvious conclusion is obscured by two historical realities.

      Shorter GM: "If you believe that, you are a dummyhead". I don't see the relevance of the rest to existence or non-existence assymetric warfare.

      "Now, since I have been asked for examples, I will provide a very simple one that illustrates how history works in literally the opposite way to what liberals think. In 1941, FDR simply rounded up 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent and put them in concentration camps. Now, if thinking under the influence of liberalism, we would expect such an obvious and arbitrary violation of civil rights to have inspired "resistance" and a "cycle of violence".

      I'm ashamed of the internment of Japanese-Americans and their descendants as anyone else, but what does this have to do with anything? Are you suggesting that Israel round up and intern it's Arab citizens? Besides the obvious immorality and uselessness of such an action, I hope that you can see the difference rounding up less than 0.1% of the population and trying to do the same thing with 20% of the population. And if you include Gaza and the West Bank you end up with something like 50%. You also have to consider the isolation of the Japanese Americans from any source of protection.

      "Also, which if the Protestants and Catholics submitted to the other to end that conflict?"

      What is this conflict between "Protestants and Catholics"? Do you mean the Thirty Years War? What are you even talking about? Fail.
      http://www.mtsm.org/pdf/The%20Myth%20of%20Religious%20Violence.pdf


      Yes, I'm talking about the various Christian religious wars in Europe. These religious conflicts went away without a submission. The paper you link doesn't deny that there were violent religious conflicts, only that religion is not uniquely causative of violence which is a proposition that I agree with. I'm not Christopher Hitchens.

      "so which of the Irish Unionists and Nationalists submitted in order to end that conflict?"

      That's easy, both, to the UK government and “international community”, who got what they wanted.


      Weasel words; there is always an "international community", so this exception to your rule means that you are left with no rule.

      But no matter, let's take them seriously. According to you, the involvement of the international community provided an exception to your rule and caused both sides to give up the dispute without agreeing to each others principles, which they could not have done by themselves. In that case, you effectively endorse Oslo and other attempts to "force" a peace on the Israelis and Palestinians, since that is the only way, in your view to get them to agree on each other without some kind of terrible war.



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    12. Now, since, apparently, this is not clear, I will reiterate that I am not arguing that the Israeli government can impose its will on Fatah and Hamas (I deliberately use this terminology instead of the misleading “Israel” and “Palestine”, which are not entities capable of doing anything at all.). I am arguing that it cannot do so because of the realities of internal power relations. Some would argue that, if the Israeli government defies the US, then Hashem will assist it, but the evidence of the Tanah suggests otherwise.

      I disagree with a lot of what you say here, but I do agree that even if Israel decided to try to act like the Nazis or Communists and ethnically cleanse or create a totalitarian regime in the West Bank or Gaza, the rest of the world would stop it and relying on God to save us from our own stupidity (and immorality I would argue, though you don't agree) would fail. Luckily, the bulk of Israelis are infected with the liberalism that you decry and couldn't take fighting against the first intifada, let alone countenance what it would take to attempt a Nazi/Soviet solution.

      Now, this is mostly pertinent because David Ohsie is a particularly pious subject of the American empire who would have us believe that its decrees are actually laws of human society emerging from the very structure of reality itself, or eternally valid dictates of universal morality and possibly both at the same time (as well as shouting heretic at anyone who objects to the USG’s enormous historical and ongoing crimes or demurs at its dogmas, which, since it irrelevant to this thread, I will overlook).

      I don't mean to burst your bubble, it is the American empire that you decry that is saved Israel's bacon in 1973 and continues to be the most ardent supporter of that country in part because of Jewish political money, and in part because Israel is recognized as a basically just regime, and in part because of the support of Bible-reading Christians who believe that God did choose the Jews.

      BTW, after all that, you never really gave any examples of what you want to be done nor any historical parallels.

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    13. I agree with what David Ohsie wrote; even Gavriel admitted that military subjugation is not feasible because of geopolitical and financial reasons, and "internal power relations" (whatever that means). Therefore, whether one is "liberal" or "anti-liberal" it seems that a compromise is the only possible solution, unless one wishes to continue the status quo.

      Adopting a compromise solution has nothing to do with saying that all the competing claims are equally valid or historically accurate, and it does not mean giving in to those who try to de-legitimize Israel. It just means facing the reality of the situation. However, it means that both sides have to be willing to compromise, and this is probably not true at the moment.

      Daniel Shain

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    14. “I don't see the relevance of the rest to existence or non-existence assymetric warfare.”

      That’s surprising. I’ll spell it out for you. The concept of “assymetric warfare” is an optical illusion invented to disguise and justify US and Soviet imperialism and then subsequently used by various factions within the US empire to undermine each other.

      “I'm ashamed of the internment of Japanese-Americans and their descendants as anyone else, but what does this have to do with anything?”

      It demonstrates that reality works pretty much the opposite way your anthropology says it does. To take another example, the brutal conquest and occupation your heroes launched of the South was also very successful and did not lead to a “cycle of violence” or “resistance” or any such thing. Compare with, say, Iraq.

      “Are you suggesting that Israel round up and intern it's Arab citizens?”

      No.

      “You also have to consider the isolation of the Japanese Americans from any source of protection.”

      Bingo.

      “Yes, I'm talking about the various Christian religious wars in Europe. These religious conflicts went away without a submission.”

      Name one war that you think ended in such a way.
      “According to you, the involvement of the international community provided an exception to your rule and caused both sides to give up the dispute without agreeing to each others principles, which they could not have done by themselves. In that case, you effectively endorse Oslo and other attempts to "force" a peace on the Israelis and Palestinians, since that is the only way, in your view to get them to agree on each other without some kind of terrible war.”

      After 1973, Israel was in a position of overwhelming military superiority over the West Bank and Gaza. The result was unprecedented economic growth in both regions. From a Torah perspective things were not idea, though much better than now, but all in all things were as good for all sides as they have ever been (and likely ever will be). However, this was not allowed to stand. First outside money, mostly from the Soviet Union, but also from parts of the American empire, literally created Palestinian Nationalism out of thin air. Then after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US seized its newly unchallenged power to impose the two state solution as it had first tried in 1947. The result is that economic growth first stalled and then went into reverse in the West Bank and Gaza has become a dystopian slum. We spend untold and unprecedented amounts of money maintaining a permanent state of high security.

      (I don’t want to get distracted, but obviously the ultimate result of the peace deal in Northern Ireland will be to turn it into another generic liberal democracy, faintly remembering that it once had its own culture(s) and struggling to cope with the ever growing burdens of anracho-tyranny as in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_child_sexual_exploitation_scandal)

      So yes, America can make us submit and they did and it made things worse for everybody. Really, we should count ourselves lucky, compared to South Africa and Rhodesia we’re doing pretty well. The reason for this is:

      “and continues to be the most ardent supporter of that country in part because of Jewish political money, and in part because Israel is recognized as a basically just regime, and in part because of the support of Bible-reading Christians who believe that God did choose the Jews.”

      Which is what I already said.


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    15. (ii)

      “I disagree with a lot of what you say here, but I do agree that even if Israel decided to try to act like the Nazis or Communists”

      That is a childish slur and particularly silly since nothing I have advocated comes close in its brutality to your own civil war heroes.
      “Luckily, the bulk of Israelis are infected with the liberalism that you decry and couldn't take fighting against the first intifada, let alone countenance what it would take to attempt a Nazi/Soviet solution.”

      Again, ignoring your slurs, there is massive and growing public support for a policy of transfer, but really its hypothetical because Israeli public opinion is not what determines government policy.

      So, to sum up, we are subjects of the US empire. The telos of the US empire is to destroy anything that does not meet its liberal-democratic standards, which are themselves always evolving. Sometimes this works out pretty good (Japan), sometimes sort-of-OK (western Europe), but usually awfully (Africa, South America). We have been pretty lucky all things considered. Netanyahu has (IMHO) done about as good job as possible in manoeuvring in this situation. The important point to recognise is that when we do things like destroy a settlement in Amona we are not doing it because its moral, or because we can’t defeat the Palestinians, or because it’s the law, or because it's a stepping stone to peace or anything our politicians tell us, we are doing it because we are a subject country and this is (probably) the least we can get away with.

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  2. hope this is not too off topic but you say "We only left it when we were exiled,"

    acoording to wiki nobody exiled the jews. is that right ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_diaspora#Dispersion_of_the_Jews_in_the_Roman_Empire

    The widespread popular belief that there was a sudden expulsion of Jews from Judea/Syria Palaestina in 70 or 135 CE that led to the creation of the Diaspora is not correct.[24] The concept of exile is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions.[25] The diaspora was a process that occurred over centuries starting with the Assyrian destruction of Israel, the Babylonian destruction of Judah, the Roman destruction of Judea, and the subsequent rule of Christians and Muslims. After the revolt, the Jewish religious center shifted to the Babylonian Jewish community and its scholars. The destruction of the Second Temple was responsible for a seismic change in communal Jewish self-perception and of their place in the world. For the generations that followed the event came to represent a fundamental insight about the Jews who were to become an exiled and persecuted people for much of their history.[26]

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    1. It was a slow exile. An exile taking almost a thousand years from beggining to end. An exile caused as much by force of circumstance as force of arms. But nonetheless, we were driven out of the land, and it was the oppression of our enemies that caused it. Sometimes they were the direct cause, sometimes indirect, but it was always a result of their efforts.

      Is that technically speaking an exile? A question of mere semantics.

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    2. Yavoy, the question to ask is how much of the exile was our choice. Can the Orthodox Jews of America get up tomorrow and move to Israel? Yes, if we wanted to.

      Could the sages of Bavel gotten up and moved to Israel at various points in history? I don't know.

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    3. "Could the sages of Bavel gotten up and moved to Israel at various points in history? I don't know."

      Individuals? Certainly. But the and political situation in Israel was so poor that none of the institutions neccessary for a society to thrive could exist. For a while the nasi and related institutions struggled on, but became steadily weaker and eventually disappeared.

      I think a meagre existence as a semi enslaved people in the land of Israel is no better than exile.

      As for American Jews today? Please do come.

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    4. It wasn't like the Babylonian exile where there was an intentional uprooting and dispalcing of a whole population a in short time frame, leaving relatively few stragglers behind. There was no one point in time where the Roman rulers intentionally displaced, or tried to displace a large proportion of the Jewish population elsewhere. That's why exile isn't part of the academic history of the period. But there was large scale movement of Jewish movement out of Eretz Israel both around the revolt of 66-70 and in the wake of the great revolt of Bar Kochab in 135 or so. That was partly due to persecution, economic factors, general lack of sense of security. But there are also records of quite large scale enslavement of Jews at those times by Romans which ended up with a lot of Jews being forcibly moved by new owners around the Roman empire including a lot to its Italian heartland.
      That's why we refer to it as exile. Various factors, all due to Roman intervention, resulted in decimation of the Jewish population of E'Y despite no central Roman planning of it.
      Hope that helps.

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    5. Anyone visiting the Colosseum in Rome will see the sign describing how it was built by tens of thousands of slaves from Judea.

      So, yes, there was definitely an element of intentional displacement of Jews under the Romans - bringing them to Rome as slaves.

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  3. There is a new trend in Yesha in which Arabs are meeting with "settlers" in order to develop mutual understanding and peaceful ties. Someone asked me about it and I told them I was opposed. When they asked why I explained: the Arabs are approaching the Jews and basically saying "We've given up trying to get rid of you so we might as well learn to live with you." The problem is that their fundamental position remains that these are alien Jews living on their so-called Palestinian land. They're just being pragmatic. If the situation ever changes, those same "settlers" they're now making friends with will wind up like the Jews of Chevron in 1929.

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    1. It is the first stage towards mutual understanding. When you meet and talk to someone you can start to see their side of things too. With time you might even end up agreeing with them. So it begins a process. The process might take many generations, even if it ever leads to anything, but it is better than doing nothing.

      And even if it leads nowhere, so what? So they disagree with us, we disagree with them, but so what? If we can work together despite our differences, to save lives and be more productive, that can only be a good thing.

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    2. Yavoy, do you think the Israelis don't already see and understand the so-called Palestinian side of things? Of course they do. It is a peculiar conceit of liberalism to think that two sides cannot understand each other unless they meet. That's nonsense. Both sides understand each other very well. The idea behind meeting is simply to try and force one side - the "Daddy" in the equation, if you will - to sigh and finally give in.

      This is true in any negotiation - on a personal, business, or state level - that involves two parties of normal intelligence. It is NEVER about getting one party to suddenly realize the justness of the other side, that's a fantasy. It is simply about how much loss of money, bloodshed, or hardship each side is willing to either absorb or force on the other side for the sake of their principle, before giving in.

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    3. is your position 'they must go' ; or settlers stay, but live in emnity?

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    4. "Both sides understand each other very well."
      People say that there is no objective history, and no objective truth--but honestly, whose narrative is more factually correct, the Israelis or the Palestinians?

      For example, the Palestinians are being taught that the Second Temple never existed, or if it did exist, it wasn't on the Temple Mount, but somewhere else. They're being taught that Jesus was Palestinian--but somehow he didn't speak Arabic, he spoke Hebrew and Aramaic. They're being taught that the Jews in Israel at present have no connection to the land of Israel, but are just colonizers.
      Are any of these statements factually true? Can't the Arabs be taught that these statements are all unequivocally false?

      For 2000 years, Christians had absolutely no doubt that the Jews in Europe were descendents of the same Jews that rejected Jesus. Now the Arabs have a "narrative" that the Jews really aren't the same Jews as those at the time of the Second Temple. At what point did this become a valid "narrative"? Because that's what they want to teach their children?!

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    5. DF: I understand very well why Syrians want to move to Europe. But it was only when I spoke to them that I started to view them as real people with their own problems, fears and pains. And it was only then that I was prepared to sacrifice of myself even in the slightest to help them.

      If we talk to the Palestinians we might start to view each other as people rather than enemies. And that will solve half the problem methinks.

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    6. I would say that the DF vs. Yavoy argument is not relevant to the argument of "Garnel Ironheart". Assuming argumendo that DF is correct and it is submission and never agreement, then such submission should be encouraged, contra GI.

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    7. Yavoy,

      Everyone in the world throughout history were real people with their own problems, fears and pains. That doesn't mean we could have solved half the problems of the Rwandan genocide if the Tutsi spoke to the Hutus, or half the problems of the Holocaust if Jews spoke to the Nazis. In the end of the day, it is simply impossible to speak to certain indoctrinated people.

      Besides, Rabin and Arafat famously shook hands in 1993. Violence didn't fade, it exacerbated terribly.

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    8. MK: no conversation does not solve all problems. But it is necessary, if you want some sort of chance.

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    9. Yavoy - even if you did not fully understand the Palestinian point of view until later, the Israelis who deal with it regularly have always understood it. And certainly we can understand their viewpoint, and even have some sympathy towards it. But its irrelevant. I have more sympathy towards my own point of view. Moreover, though I can understand and sympathize with their view, that doesn't mean they are actually right. In fact, they are dead wrong. And finally, everything we know about history and human nature, plus the countless attempts and compromises of the past 100 years, shows us that giving in to the Arab position in any way necessarily leads to the diminution of our own.

      The point is, there is no reason to sit and parley with them, except, perhaps, as a hollow sideshow designed to placate outside forces. We already understand them. The harsh reality that most Israelis came to realize post the Rabin-era disaster, as tragically confirmed by the Gaza debacle, is that a Palestinian state cannot be allowed. Ergo, any talks that contain this proposal is DOA.

      Yehuda P. - I agree with you. That's another reason why Yavoy is wrong. They have simply been falsely indoctrinated for so long, that meeting with them is pointless. Their paradigms are so set in stone, that it is next to impossible for many of them to see our own point of view.

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    10. DF: in the short term you are right. But in a hundred years? Is real peace possible then?
      I hope so. But only if we start subtly changing attitudes now. And conversation is a good place to start.

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    11. The harsh reality that most Israelis came to realize post the Rabin-era disaster, as tragically confirmed by the Gaza debacle, is that a Palestinian state cannot be allowed. Ergo, any talks that contain this proposal is DOA.

      Why did the same logic not apply to Germany after WWII? It was clear after multiple tries that they could not govern themselves without becoming a threat to their neighbors and that they could not help but slide from democracy into a military dictatorship. Clearly any proposal to grant them self-governance should have been DOA. Same for Japan.

      It was also not clear that we could ever have peace with Egypt and Jordan, and we have an unofficial accommodation with Syria. Predicting the future is hard.

      In fact, they actually have partial self-governance in the West Bank in which they imperfectly cooperate with Israel to avoid an open escalation into war.

      You are right that today they can't have military control over the West Bank because they could then easily shoot down planes out of TLV with shoulder-fired missiles. But attempting to predict the future is futile. We should always be watchfully waiting at the least.

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  4. Excellent essay; it held my interest, even though I have next to no interest in animals. And your main points are well taken.

    Minor quibble: "Mesopotamian fallow deer....were evacuated during the Iranian revolution from the animals being massacred at the Shah’s menagerie....". From an English language point of view, it's technically fine to use "massacre" for animals. But I winced when I read that sentence.

    This is probably only my own preference, but I hope that writers will reserve the word "massacre", with all of its undertones of horror, for human beings.

    Andy

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  5. I realize this is a Zionist heresy, but isn't it true that the people who created Israel were European colonists? It's true that Israel has always been seen as the Jewish homeland, and that Jews have always had a connection to it. To deny that is a lie. But to deny that Europeans colonized what had been an overwhelmingly Arab area for centuries is also a distortion. That the Europeans were Jewish and had a religious and historic connection to the land doesn't make them not colonists.

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    1. I realize this is an al-Jazeera heresy, but isn't it true that the people who claim to be the dominant population in Israel were immigrants from the Arabian peninsula in the 7th century? It's true that Arabs have lived in Israel and that for brief periods of time they actually ruled it (except for the Turks, Mameluks, etc). To deny that is a lie. But to deny that Arabs colonized what was Jewish land full of Jewish history, Jewish archeology and sadly, Jewish blood is also a distortion. That the Arabs were Arabs from Arabia and have invented a religious and historic connection to the land doesn't make them not colonists.

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    2. This is Rationalist Judaism, not Rational Geopolitics ;).

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    3. Is it OK to make a distinction between zionists seeking to create a homeland and Europeans seeking to expand empires?
      Does the motivation matter to the ethics of the act? I think so but I could be wrong

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    4. all you need to know is jews are indigenous to judea and arabs are indigenous to arabia.

      http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2016/09/why-calling-zionism-colonialist-is.html

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    5. Dovid: and if vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?

      Want to hear my own two pence?

      We both have a historical connection to the land (ours more ancient, theirs more recent), we've both suffered at the hands of the other, and the other has suffered at our hands. And we both have understandable claims and desires.

      OK, we've probably been less barbaric, more moral, and more merciful. Doesn't mean they don't have a point.

      So who is right? Personally I think that's a meaningless question. Not every situation can be so easily divided into right and wrong. Sometimes right and wrong are undefined, and sometimes even undefinable.

      In the long term we should try and achieve a mutual coexistence. In the short term that isn't really possible, and seeing as I care more about my people than the Palestinians, I will fight for my side. But I don't consider us to be categorically good and they categorically evil, and I will work to make sure this period is as brief as possible.

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    6. Fozzie's comment requires further input.
      Pretty much every European state is occupied by invaders who displaced the original inhabitants. North and South America? Pretty much the same thing. If occupying another's land is a sin then all the major powers that seem to think it's so important to give a faux-indigenous people it's land "back" are all hypocrites.

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    7. @G*3. No it's not true. Stating that Europeans colonised what had been Arab areas for centuries is a distortion. It implies that the Jews who came did so were primarily European by identity and saw their settlement in Palestine as an extension of Europe influence. Which, of course, is plainly wrong. They saw themselves as leaving exile in Europe to create a new, Jewish, independent society. They even changed their language. That is not colonisation by any definition, unless you want to distort the term or the history of the period. That they came from Europe does not make them European colonisers.
      BTW, Dovid's link above to elderofziyon makes the point much more extensively and forcefully.

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    8. Regarding the desirability of Jews meeting Arabs and working to achieve peace and reconciliation...it must be understood that this is simply not possible. At the time the Oslo Agreements were signed, Leah Rabin made a speech in which she said she hoped that the "misunderstanding" between the two sides would be overcome. This shows the delusion those like her have been living under for decades. There is no "misunderstanding" at all. We understand each other perfectly well. They don't want us here and we don't want to leave. Compromise in the form of Israel creating a Palestinian state, or going further and agreeing to the "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees and dissolving Israel as a state, or going even further and having all the Jews convert to Islam wouldn't help, it would exacerbate the tension even further. This is because the whole Arab Middle East is divided on tribal/clan lines and an individual's primary identity is based on this. These tribes and clans are in more or less a state of tension with all the others with historical grievances always in the background. The converted Jews would still be considered interlopers and outsiders (it was the same for the Converso Jews in Spain and Portugal who were hounded by the Inquisition and the old Christian demands for "limpieza"-racial purity).
      This does NOT mean that there is always ongoing violence between the different groups. Most of the time, it is understood that neither side is capable of knocking out the other. Thus, individuals from different groups can get together, drink coffee and do business, but always in the background, there is the awareness that "I am an X and he is a Y". This the reason that Arabs/Muslims are butchering each other in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and did so in the recent past in Lebanon and Algeria, even though the different groups and clans had lived together in peace for decades before their civil wars broke out. Among the Palestinians themselves there are deep divisions. Here is an excellent article describing the fissures in Palestinian society between the refugees and the other Palestinians they live among in the West Bank.

      http://evelyncgordon.com/the-palestinian-refugee-dodge/

      Thus, as I said, there is no way there can ever be peace and reconciliation. What there can be is MODUS-VIVENDI and for this, I believe contacts and meetings between Jews and Arabs can be useful. Although there is no real solution to the Palestinian problem, the best that can be achieved is to turn the West Bank into a Palestinian-Jordanian-Israeli condominium which partially exists even today. The Palestinians are now realizing that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would INEVITABLY lead to a bloody civil war like we say when Israel pullzed out of the Gaza Strip, examples of which they see in the neighboring countries, and so their best bet is to reach a modus-vivendi with us and work for improving their own society which we are willing to help with.

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    9. Garnel Ironheart:

      Arab Palestinians are the descendants of Jews who stayed around after Bar Kochba and eventually became Muslim. There's a bit of Arabian admixture and a smaller bit of African. We know this for sure partly because the paternal DNA of Ashkenazi Jews is very similar to that of Palestinians (and not, say, Syrians), especially - make of this what you will - Gazans. Ashkenazi maternal DNA is mostly Italian. The old theory was that POWs from the Bar Kochba revolt picked up Italian wives and became the founder population of Ashkenazi Jewry, but recent genome dating has put that into question.


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  6. So when a nation occupies a land for hundreds of years, they become the native/ indigenous population.

    But when another nation occupied the same land thousands of years ago, for hundreds of years, and wants to return, they become the "colonizers".

    It might be technically correct, but morally misleading.

    Andy

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  7. And the Ostrich is not kosher See Levit 11 and Deut 14.

    We have been taught the Torah is pithy. If so, can anybody here explain why for example the Ostrich was repeated twice in the Torah ? This is a very serious question with wide ramifications. Thank You

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  8. Rabbi Slifkin, many years ago, maybe 25, my friend Steve Sher was asked by the Rabbinate in Israel to educate them on the ostrich -- for kashruth reasons, I believe. He wrote a report for them, but does not have it any more. By any chance, do you recognize the name in your research? I'm sure he'd love to see again what he wrote. Thanks!

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  9. Lord Rothchild was a member of Parliament for over 10 years, so not sure it's accurate to say that he had little politic interest.

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