In addition to the various books and booklets that I have written, I have also during the last thirty or so years written many articles and “Letters to the Editor.” In this chapter, I shall refer to just a selection of these articles and letters.
I began this writing in the mid-1970s when I was in Liverpool and my first article was on the international status of the West Bank. Also whilst at Liverpool, I wrote many letters to the “Liverpool Jewish Gazette,” the “Jewish Chronicle” and many other national and Jewish newspapers, some of which were published. Further details on this may be found in the chapter “Eretz Israel is Ours” in my book “My Fight for Yiddishkeit.”
I returned to Israel in the summer of 1978. At that period the fight to prevent the expulsion of Jews from Yamit and the surrounding settlements was in progress. On the first night of Selichot, it was decided to recite midnight Selichot on a hill opposite Kiryat Arba. I went there with my eldest daughter aged 8. Suddenly soldiers came and started to cart us off to waiting buses. As they were carrying me off, my daughter ran after me crying. We were taken to the police station in Beer Sheba, but they were not interested in us. We had to make our own way home to Kiryat Arba. I spoke to a lawyer about making a case against the army but he wasn’t prepared to do so. After that incident, I wrote an article in September 1978 entitled “Thoughts of a Kiryat Arba Resident.”
After this incident, I wrote to one of my former pupils in Liverpool, Michael Ellenbogen, and mentioned how Ayelet and I had been “arrested.” In his reply he wrote, “Have you and Ayelet recovered from your incarceration?” Some time later I met someone from Liverpool in Israel. He told me that news of this “arrest” had gone around the Jewish community of Liverpool, although it hadn’t reached the local Jewish paper. He had heard about it one Sunday morning in one of the Jewish grocery shops. I answered that I hoped they realised for what I had been arrested. I didn’t want them to think I had been arrested for robbing a bank or such like! He answered that of course they knew why! In Liverpool they commented that I had just returned to Israel and I was dragging Ayelet into these matters.
From time to time, the Kiryat Arba Local Council has brought out a magazine. Whenever there was a change of “government” of the Local Council, the title of the magazine also changed! In 1987, this magazine was called “Chavruta” and I had three articles published in subsequent editions.
The content of the first one was how in 1937 Ben-Gurion came out in favour of Jews settling in Hebron. The following article showed how Chaim Weizmann was two-faced – one in his public pronouncements opposing Arab transfer, and on the other hand (or should I say “face”!) in his private pronouncements, strongly advocating it! My final article was how the Gerrer Rebbe “dared” go beyond the seventh step to the Cave of Machpelah and the rumpus which followed.
In December of that year, I wrote my next article. During the previous years, I been researching and writing my scholarly book on a historical survey of proposals to transfer Arabs from Eretz Israel and it was then in the course of publication. I decided at the time to write a polemic article on that subject. It took the form of a “Letter from Israel” written on “17 August 2005” and entitled “Israel, Three Years after Transfer.”
In this article I wrote how the country had come to “a broad consensus” on transferring all the Arabs out of Eretz Israel and in 2002 had implemented such a transfer. Not only the Jews, but also the Arabs had benefited from such a transfer.
A few months later, I wrote an article which was the alternative to the transfer of Arabs and was called “Liquidation of the Jewish State.” It was dated the same date but was sent from London. Why London? I had been able to get to England, but penniless. The PLO had confiscated everything I possessed. The article described how Israel had handed over in stages parts of Eretz Israel to the Arabs. When finally the narrow coastal strip was left, the Arabs had no difficulty in conquering it.
I concluded this article, “The Festivals should be times of joy for the Jewish people. However, when in the Festival prayers, the words ‘On account of our sins, we were exiled from our land’ are said, great weeping is heard in the Synagogues. Maybe, after another two thousand stateless years of wanderings, persecutions, pogroms and massacres, we will again have a state. Let us pray that next time, we will use the opportunity wisely.”
When I today (July 2005) look at the date of this letter, 17 August 2005, it is frightening. It is precisely the time when Sharon is planning to hand over Gush Katif and other settlements to the PLO and this “letter” was written over 17 years ago.
I sent this letter up to the newspaper the “Jerusalem Times/Jewish Press” and in the edition 8 July 1988, they published it in its entirety. Some years later my mother received from a friend of hers who originated from India, a copy of the British Jewish newspaper “The Scribe – Journal of Babylonian Jewry” dated July 1992. This newspaper is published by “The Exilarch’s Foundation” which is administered by some Oriental Jews living in London. They had reproduced a shortened version of this letter on their entire front page. At the end their Editor had commented, “The author prophetically refers to 1992 as the year in which an agreement is signed with the Arabs for Israeli withdrawal from ‘occupied’ territory. Let us hope the rest of this nightmarish scenario will never come true.”
I also translated my article into Hebrew and sent it up to the Israeli newspaper “Moledet.” They published it in a slightly abbreviated form in their September-October 1992 edition. A few years later I brought out these two letters in a booklet entitled “The Two Alternatives: Liquidation of Israel or Transfer of Arabs.”
In December 2003, a letter appeared in the “Jerusalem Post” written by Joseph R. L. Simkins of Texas. In it he analysed the then political situation and concluded, “There are only two plausible outcomes: the destruction of Israel or the expulsion of Arabs.” This was in fact the identical conclusion I had come to sixteen years earlier and I felt it would be instructive to again reproduce my two letters which I had then written.
Amongst the places I then sent them to was “The Freeman Center” and they printed my two letters in the January 2004 edition of their journal “The Maccabean” as a Guest Editorial.
It was in September 1987 that I wrote an article entitled “Believe it or not!” which showed that the suppliers of electricity to the Jewish residents of East Jerusalem and many other Jewish residents including Israeli army camps and military installations within a 20km radius of Jerusalem, was by a company directed by the PLO. As far as I remember I may have got much of the background information for this article from the English edition of the Arab paper Al Fajr or Al Anbar.
In the 1980s, Jews travelling from Jerusalem to Hebron were likely to be met with a hail of stones thrown by Arabs. It is superfluous to add that stones can easily kill and one would think that the use of self-defence is perfectly legitimate. The Israeli authorities often thought otherwise!
One of my friends, Ilan Tur, had stones the size of melons thrown at him. To save his life, he utilised his weapon and an Arab was killed. Ilan was brought to trial and spent about nine months in jail until his case was heard. He said that he shared a cell with an English speaker and at least he learned some English. His trial was heard in the Jerusalem District Court. Its location was the building formerly used by the Jordanians as a Court and was in Saladin Street, which is situated just over the former armistice line which divided Jerusalem. The residents of Kiryat Arba were asked to go to the Court to give Ilan moral support and I went several times. I remember catching my toe under the metal outer door of the Court building and it was painful for some time afterwards! Fortunately Ilan was suddenly acquitted during the trial – I don’t remember the exact reason.
I wrote an article on this stone throwing entitled “Self-Defence Strictly Forbidden” in which I concluded, “So remember, should the Arabs throw stones, Molotov cocktails or even a grenade at you, do nothing unless you want to go to jail. You may end up in the cemetery, but don’t worry you will go to Heaven knowing you have observed the regulations.”
I sent a copy of this article to the “Jerusalem Times/Jewish Press” and it appeared in the edition of 8 April 1988.
A number of people had suggested that I bring out the various articles I had written at the time in a booklet. It was at this period that I was in contact with Mark Braham, the Editor of “The Jewish Commentary” an Australian Jewish paper. In June 1989, I wrote to Braham asking whether his paper “would be interested in publishing these articles in future editions of the paper, or better still as a booklet? I have them on a computer diskette, so the plates could be set up directly from the diskette. Please let me know. I am enclosing a hard-copy from the computer.”
I had entitled my booklet “Chelm or Israel?” since it was sometimes difficult to know where one was then living – in Israel or in Chelm, the city of simple-minded people.
Mark Braham replied that he had discussed my booklet with his Rabbi, “a young Lubavitch with a very up-to-date approach to contemporary affairs.” He added that in addition to being a Talmid Chacham, he was also an expert at computers and type-setting. They agreed to their publishing it and that it would be distributed as a “Jewish Commentary” publication. They also included in this publication an article on “Kahanism” and an article by Rabbi Meir Kahane and also an introduction to my scholarly book on transfer which had just been published.
I received the first copy of this booklet in September of that year and I wrote to Braham, “The layout and appearance look really first-class. I feel it is important that selected individuals and institutions should receive a copy. Can you therefore please send me at least 25 (and if possible 50) copies of it.”
I duly received 50 copies and between November 1989 and January 1990 sent such copies to (amongst others) the libraries of the various Israeli Universities, a few city public libraries where there was a large English speaking population, the British Library, the Library of Congress and a number of individuals whom I thought would be interested in it.
About a year prior to this, I had been given a copy of the once secret, but by then declassified memorandum from 1967, of the Chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff on the minimum territory needed by Israel for defensive purposes. This included a very large part of Judea and Samaria (but did not include the Jordan Valley), the entire Gaza strip, the entire Golan Heights and some areas in Sinai. The Americans have conveniently forgotten this today!
From the Israeli side there had been the Allon plan. With some difficulty, I managed to get hold of a map of this plan which had been published by the Jewish Agency. At a superficial glance, the two maps looked the same! But in fact they were almost opposites. Allon felt that Israel only needed to retain the Jordan Valley. Accordingly, although settlements under the Likud government were throughout the liberated territories, the left would in general not participate in settlement outside the Jordan Valley.
I wrote an article on this called “The Allon Plan in Reverse” including a map of each plan and concluded, “With the publication of this American document, let those left-wingers now join their brethren in settling areas designated by the American defense establishment as essential for Israel’s continued security.”
Another inter-Jewish dispute of that period concerned the Jewish National Fund (JNF). A “Blue Box” of the JNF in almost every Jewish home was well known. The money collected was for the purpose of purchasing land and planting of trees in Eretz Israel. But how many people were aware that the JNF would use no money whatsoever for any area over the “Green Line” and this even included East Jerusalem! It was Hadassah Marcus of New York who discovered this fact in the 1980s and decided to fight it, even taking the matter as far as the American courts. I decided that I would help her in her fight and researched a number of facts in this matter which I sent her. These included the following:
The JNF brought out a booklet entitled “The JNF Blue Box Exhibition.” This booklet included a Blue Box of the late 1950s – the period when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were in Arab hands and the lines separating these areas from the then borders of the State of Israel were clearly shown. However in a Box made in the late 1960s – namely after the Six Day War – these lines had disappeared, thus implying that the area covered by the activities of the JNF had expanded and thus included Judea, Samaria and Gaza. However Hadassah had discovered this was not true.
In June 1989, I received an appeal from the JNF. On the envelope it stated (translated from Hebrew), “The donation of trees is dedicated to the planting of forests in Eretz Israel.” Note the words “Eretz Israel.”
The foundation purpose of the JNF as resolved in 1901: “…Its funds shall not be used except for the purchase of lands in Palestine and Syria.” Note the word Palestine as used in 1901 – it cannot refer to that part of Palestine within the 1949 armistice lines!
From the American courts Hadassah got an injunction in 1989 against the JNF forbidding them to use the map of Israel. I later heard that the JNF had been charged with contempt of Court.
It was during the 1960s that the well known film entitled “Sallah Shabbati” was produced in Israel. Sallah was a middle aged man who had come on Aliyah from an Oriental country and was first given work planting trees for the JNF. When he saw that they were taking money from two different donors for the same trees, he uprooted the trees and said that this was dishonest.
I wrote an article entitled “Sallah Shabbati and the J.N.F.” and wrote, “What Sallah Shabbati discovered in the 1950s, Hadassah Marcus again discovered in the 1980s but on a much more serious scale.”
It was at the beginning of the 1990s that the Israeli government was planning to give the Arabs autonomy over Judea and Samaria. I considered it would be interesting (and traumatic) to speculate what Kiryat Arba would be like after it had been several years under Arab autonomy! Here is some of the background to my article.
Before the left came to power in 1992, (even though at this election the right wing and religious parties gained more of the popular vote than the left wing and Arabs parties put together), apartments were beginning to be constructed to physically link Ramat Mamre (a suburb of Kiryat Arba) with the main part of Kiryat Arba. Whilst this building was in progress, there was the General Election and immediately afterwards an instruction was given to stop this building.
As a protest, that Tisha B’Av “illegal” building was began on that site by a number of the residents of Kiryat Arba including the Mayor. Immediately the army entered, stopped the building and arrested the builders. I had been asked by the Mayor to video the building operations. Whilst doing so, the army commander came to me, noted my name, confiscated the video cassette, and told me he was handing it over to the police. Until this day I have never heard anything more about it!
At that period (and possibly even today) one of the largest and most impressive buildings in Kiryat Arba is Yeshivat Nir Kiryat Arba. “Nir” is not the name of a place but a rich donor! After being situated in a shed for nearly a decade, this magnificent building was built and some years later, a large wing containing dormitory facilities was added.
The largest school in Kiryat Arba is the Religious Primary School. At that period its Headmaster was called Yoseph Dayan. Needless to say the curriculum was Zionist orientated.
Water in Kiryat Arba comes from the Herodian well and there is water in the residents’ taps for 24 a day. In Hebron however, there are often stoppages of the water. It was at this period, that I was in the swimming pool in Kiryat Arba when a television crew came to film. What was the purpose of their filming? I soon learned. The television programme showed alternate shots of the lack of water in Hebron, and Jews enjoying themselves in the swimming pool in Kiryat Arba, thus giving the impression to the viewers that our swimming was at the expense of the basic water needs of the Arabs in Hebron. To the best of my knowledge, what was not revealed to the viewers was that the source of the water in Hebron was not the same source as for Kiryat Arba. Furthermore the water pipes in Hebron are so old that half the water gets lost due to leakage.
Using all this and other information I wrote my article. Some of the points included were: By the time autonomy had been in force for two years, Kiryat Arba and Ramat Mamre were joined up by housing – but housing to Arabs in order to break up the continuity of Kiryat Arba. The Yeshiva building was in utter ruins. The headmaster “Yossi” was languishing in jail. He had been caught secretly teaching the pupils the Zionist syllabus, even though the Arabs had forbidden it and had replaced it with an Arab syllabus. There was water in the taps in Kiryat Arba for no more than two hours each day.
Another article I wrote at that period was how Yasser Arafat managed to obtain Israeli citizenship via the back door and became Minister of Defence of the State of Israel! A few years later I was asked to submit an article for a planned English paper in Kiryat Arba, which unfortunately never materialised! I submitted this article but by this time Arafat was an honoured friend of the left. I thus headed this article, “When I wrote this article, it was only possible for Arafat to enter Israel via the backdoor, namely by ‘converting’ to Judaism! No-one then, in their wildest nightmares, imagined that just a year later, a Prime Minister of Israel would deign to shake hands with Arafat, a mass murderer of Jews.” The following points are a background to this article of mine.
The question of “Who is a Jew” has plagued Israel since the establishment of the State. Following the Supreme Court ruling on the Shalit case, the law was amended that a Jew was someone born of a Jewish mother or had converted to Judaism. However the term conversion had been left vague and after appeals to this Court by the Reform movement, any “conversion” sanctioned by them in the Diaspora gave the recipient the right to enter Israel and obtain citizenship.
The Ministry of the Interior, which was then headed by a religious Minister, immediately started putting stickers on the Identity Cards saying that the stating that a person was Jewish on this document was not a proof of his Jewishness. Immediately, the Supreme Court rejected these stickers and so the Minister had this statement printed in “microscopic size letters” on these Identity Cards.
The desire to be the Government of Israel is so great that the left are even sometimes prepared to bring Arab parties into the coalition to accomplish this, even though they will then be privy to the most sensitive security matters.
In my article, I wrote that Arafat became “converted” to Judaism by some foreign “rabbi” [rabbi with a small letter “r” of course], utilised this to become an Israeli citizen and then set up his own political party. Naturally the Israeli Arabs voted en masse for him and his party became the third largest party. The left wing realised that with the votes of his party, they would be the government and Arafat demanded and was granted the portfolio of Minister of Defence of the State of Israel.
The article concludes, “Arafat was not Minister of Defence in the government of Israel for long. No - Arafat did not go into early retirement. It was the State of Israel which went into early retirement!”
Just over a decade later, I saw a like danger to the Jewish State. It was in November 2003, that Yossi Beilin and others published their “Geneva Accord.” The “others” on the Israeli side included some left wing Members of Knesset, a number of writers, some retired army personnel and a lecturer from Bar-Ilan University. On the Arab side of this “Accord” were some members of the “Palestinian Authority,” some members of the PLO and some members of the staff of Bir-Zeit University.
In this “Accord,” Western Eretz Israel would be divided into two states, Israel and Palestine. The borders would be almost identical to the pre-1967 borders of Israel, However areas where a large concentration of Jews had settled since the Six Day War would be annexed by Israel. In return, an equal area of Israel from before the Six Day War would be handed over to the Palestinian state. This would still leave 100,000 Jews in the area of the Palestinian state and they would be compulsorily transferred to the Israel state. In contrast not one Arab in the Israel state would be transferred to the Palestinian state.
A Hebrew text of this “Accord” was sent to every household in Israel. This cost millions of dollars and I believe the money came from outside Israel to cover all the printing and distribution costs.
When I saw this “Accord,” I thought to myself that an “alternative version” needs to be produced and I immediately got down to preparing one. I called it “‘Geneva Accord’ Alternative Version.” I gave it a sub-title “Model for a Permanent Israel-Arab Agreement” to match the “Beilin and others” sub-title “Model for a Permanent Israel-Palestinian Agreement.”
Whereas “Beilin and others” had conveniently “forgotten” that Mandatory Palestine included Transjordan, which represented 77% of the land area of Palestine, I made this an integral part of my plan and that this entire area would be divided into two states, Israel and Palestine. East of the Jordan – the area today known as Jordan would be the State of Palestine and west of the Jordan and the Golan Heights would be the State of Israel.
Arabs living in the designated state of Israel would be allowed to remain on signing a declaration recognising Israel as a Jewish state. Otherwise they would have to move to Palestine. A similar condition would apply to Jews living in the designated state of Palestine - in practice there were no such Jews living in that area.
In the section of my paper called “Background,” I discussed the historical situation, the legal right of Jews to settle all over Eretz Israel and the question of population transfer. I also wrote a section on how to answer objections to my “Accord.” I showed that population transfer is not necessarily “racial cleansing” and that there was nothing sacrosanct about the pre-1967 borders.
After writing out a draft of my article, I submitted it to some people for comment. One response was that it was important in such a paper to give footnotes and references. I completely agreed with this comment and thus prepared such material, which totaled 64 such footnotes/references.
Already in November 2003 - the same month as the “Beilin and others” document was distributed, my document was ready. Unlike “Beilin and others,” I didn’t have the benefit of foreign financing to distribute a copy to every household in Israel. However, fortunately today we have the benefit of the Internet which reaches maybe even the majority of the population of Israel.
I sent my article up to an organisation which has a well read website and they agreed to put it on it. Unfortunately it was badly done. Some sentences got missed out and the footnotes were not numbered. Till this day this faulty copy still remains on the Internet. Another organisation then put an accurate copy on their website. In addition I also put it on my website.
I received a feedback via the Hebron e-mail from Lea de Lange who questioned the status of the East bank of the Jordan, which I had allocated to a Palestinian state.
In my reply given on 3 December 2003, I discussed the religious status of the East bank of the Jordan River. For this I utilised material which appeared in “Meorot Hadaf Hayomi” which divided this East bank into three areas: i) from just below the Kinneret northwards – namely the area of the Golan Heights; this is definitely Eretz Israel. ii) from just below the Kinneret to the Dead Sea; here our Rabbis are in doubt whether or not this is part of Eretz Israel. iii) from the Dead Sea southwards; this is definitely not Eretz Israel. I pointed out to Lea that the area which is definitely Eretz Israel, namely the Golan Heights is included in the designated state of Israel.
I added that the other two areas which today are not in our hands and hence we are not giving them away, will form the designated state of Palestine. In order to capture them we would have to send in the Israeli army and this would certainly result in the death of Jewish soldiers. Rabbi Meir Kahane has clearly stated that “one Jewish life is not worth all the Jewish land that is under foreign rule.” Rabbi Shlomo Aviner has also put forward similar views on this question. I concluded that I hope this answered her question.
In addition to articles, I wrote many letters, mainly to the newspapers, but also some “Open Letters.” One of the latter was a letter to my “Uncle.” He had come out in favour of the Rabin–Arafat meeting. This “Uncle” did not live in Israel, had no intention of coming to live in Israel and even took his holidays elsewhere. In my open letter, I compared this meeting with the Chamberlain–Hitler meeting, and how at the same time as Arafat was shaking hands with Rabin, he was preaching quite differently to the Arabs! I concluded that should Arafat succeed in destroying Israel, my “Uncle” should say kaddish for his family.
It was in 1994 that the scholar Rabbi Ido Elba brought out a paper which he stressed to be theoretical on the subject of “whether it is permitted to kill non-Jews.” This did not find favour with certain members of the Israeli administration and he was brought to trial.
No fewer than four leading Rabbis, one of them being the Chief Rabbi, wrote letters stating that it was quite legitimate to write theoretical study papers on any Halachic subject. The case finally reached the Israel Supreme Court, where in their judgment, two of the Supreme Court judges agreed with this reasoning. However the ruling follows the majority of the judges, and they held otherwise. Thus Rabbi Elba went to jail.
I was horrified at this attempt to suppress academic freedom and wrote a letter to the newspapers. In it I wrote, “I have waited, but sadly in vain, for the University Professors and the Rabbinical authorities to issue a protest at the incarceration of somebody for publishing a research paper. It could happen tomorrow that someone will publish a scholarly article on ‘The Biological Effectiveness of Nerve Gas against Civilian Population’ and, like Rabbi Elba, find himself in jail! Would anyone then still remain silent?”
This letter was published, not surprisingly by the “Jewish Press” and “Moledet.” I was however pleasantly surprised to see that “Davar” the Histadrut paper published this letter and what is more in its entirety. An extract was also published in “Hatzofe.” Rabbi Elba’s wife saw this letter in one of these papers and came to thank me for writing it.
Israel bashing has always been a phenomenon and even so-called friends such as the United States does so. It would be far better for these countries to look at their own behaviour first before criticising Israel. It was a few months before the American Presidential elections that there were hurricanes in Florida. I wrote a letter which was printed in the “Jewish Press,” “Were it not so close to the American Presidential elections, George Bush would be blaming Israel for the hurricanes which hit Florida.”