-- Actually, the exodus of Arab Jews from their countries of residence went on over an extended period of time and, in some cases, such as Algeria, had nothing to do with the events in Palestine. In other cases where the Arab country found itself at war with Israel, as with Egypt, Jewish immigration was a direct result of the Zionist expulsion of Arabs. And in the case of Morocco, the government tried hard to assure the Jews safety and prosperity to counter Zionist propaganda urging them to leave.
-- Sometimes the "displacement" was hastened, as in Iraq, by Zionist agents committing violent acts of sabotage against local Jewish communities.
--The reception the Arab Jews got in Israel wasn't quite the "open arms" picture Skolnik paints. They were received by their European Jewish "brethren" with racial prejudice. Even today, Ashkenazi and Sephardic/Mizrachi relations in Israel are strained.
-- As to the Arab refugees who were allegedly treated like animals by their fellow Arabs, this is an exaggeration. The situation differed country to country. For instance, treatment in Lebanon was bad, in Jordan it was good. In none of the refugee camps in Arab countries were conditions worse than those in the tent cities and "development towns" in the Negev Desert into which the Israelis herded 80% of the Arab Jewish refugees.
4. Mr. Skolnik has other points which time and space do not allow me to address. The interested reader can find them in his response to my essay on Dr. Falk. If you read and consider them, please take the time to follow up with other sources of information, such as the works of the Israeli historians Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris as well as the journalistic pieces of Amira Hass and Gideon Levy (both of whom work for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz), and the reports "of Israel's human rights group B'Tselem. These are all Israeli sources, but they tell a very different story than does Skolnik.
Part III -- From Skolnik to Gaza
Gaza City 16 November 2012
As Mr. Skolnik so aptly demonstrates, we all live within our own world. These are usually constructed for us by our upbringing: our families, our peers, our schools, our friends and the level of attachment we develop to the community. This attachment is usually sustained and deepened by the reinforcing information environment that the community provides for us. These environments at once transform us into "good" citizens and simultaneously narrow our views of the world so they conform to acceptable political and cultural paradigms. The process usually works quite well. Nevertheless, it is still true that in any community you get a continuum of acceptance and devotion ranging from the skeptic to the true believer. For the latter, the community can do no wrong and its behavior can always be rationalized. When it comes to Israel, Skolnik is a true believer.
In a country like Israel, one that has armed itself to the teeth yet feels perennially insecure, and where the true believers are in charge, the situation is made dangerous in the extreme. Over the years, Israeli leaders, generally believing the same things that Fred Skolnik believes, have dispossessed and ethnically cleansed the Palestinians, pushing them into ever smaller areas of concentration.
Gaza is the worst example of these cases. It is a virtual "open air prison" of a million and half people squeezed into 139 square miles, the most densely populated place on earth. There, with the compliance of the United States and the European Union, the Israelis have proceeded to reduce most of the Gazans to abject poverty. When, periodically, these people strike out at their tormenters, usually in ineffective ways, they are labeled terrorists and, again with Western blessing, attacked furiously and disproportionately by the Israelis. You can now witness the latest onslaught live on the web.
Part IV -- Conclusion
Under these circumstances Skolnik's assertions that the Jews were in Palestine first and the Arabs only came later as interlopers is really besides the point. Let us say, just for the sake of argument, that he is correct. That the Jews, even in their European guise, are the real indigenous Palestinians, having come back to the homeland after an extended absence of several thousand years. Even granted this fiction, does any of that give today's Israeli Jews the right to treat the Palestinians as they do? Does it justify the creation of an apartheid environment in the occupied West Bank? Does it give them the right to reduce a million and half Gazans to a calculated impoverishment and then provoke them until they respond, whereupon Israelis indulge themselves in self-righteous mass murder?
I don't believe any of Skolnik's pseudo-history. I also don't give a damn who lived in or controlled Palestine three thousand years ago. The ones who control it now are, by their actions, no better than barbarians and the leaders in the West who back them have Palestinian blood on their hands. When it comes to behaviors like ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide the claim of self-defense is ludicrous. Nor can the fantasies of Fred Skolnik justify such on-going crimes.
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