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Shameless Schamess

Following my response to this post, Mr Schamess writes:

I’m afraid I hurt David’s feelings.

Why do I get the feeling he really couldn’t care less if he hurt my feelings or not? In any event, it takes alot more than a misguided post from some stranger to hurt my feelings.

I called an entry on his blog vicious, uninformed and racist. The post in question states “The Palestinians aren’t really a people in the normal sense of the word. In a very genuine way, they are simply the dark shadow of the Israeli people…. Are the Palestinians nothing but Orcs?” “Orcs” are evil cannibalistic monsters depicted in JRR Tolkien’s novel, “The Lord of the Rings”. Was I wrong.

The quoted passage was written by “Tom Paine” of Silent Running. And to make his point, Mr Schamess has taken the liberty to delete a whole passage, which explains the “Orcs” reference. Here is the full quote:

Without Israel, they have no reason to exist. The Palestinians were conjured up out of nothing to serve the specific purpose of demonising Israel, and if Israel were to disappear, the Palestinians would vanish right along with it.

 

Their entire existence is centered around a negation of someone else’s identity. Why do the Palestinians exist? To destroy Israel. What do they tell their children their purpose is? To kill Jews and become martyrs. What role should a Palestinian state fill in world history? To be the launching pad for the extermination of Israel.

 

Five seconds after Israel would be hypothetically destroyed (which God forbid of course) Syria, Egypt and Jordan would start fighting like wild beasts over how to divide the carcass up between them. Any Palestinians who objected would be shot out of hand. And there would be no Palestinian state.

 

Ever.

 

How long can “Palestine” exist simply as a shadow of someone else? Can hatred and nihilism and taking the enemy’s most sacred symbols and twisting them into some mockery serve as a basis for national existence? Are the Palestinians nothing but Orcs?

I did not think Tom’s Orc reference was motivated by racism, and this is borne out when the full post is looked at, and not some select quotes taken out of context. Tom’s point relates to the origins of a “palestinian” identity, and how this relates to the express purpose of destroying Israel. I do not believe that he was positing that all PLO Arabs are murderous cannibals – a view I would not endorse. I just wish Mr Schamess had not seen the need to justify his accusations of racism against me by distorting the post I quoted on my blog.

 

Schamess continues:

“I take issue with the accusation of ‘racism,’ David declares in his response. “More than that, I take issue with its characterization as ‘uninformed,’ since my position on the matter comes from my extensive reading on the subject.” Judging from what follows, his extensive reading consists of a single article by Joseph Farrar, from which he copies all of the quotations. “So, Andrew,” he writes, cleverly referencing a beer commercial: “this one’s for you…”

Which is entirely false (of course). Mr Schamess does not link to the Farah (notice the spelling, Andrew) article that I used, but rather a Betar site, which, amongst other things, contains the article and the quotes I used. But the article itself does not contain all of those quotes (I provided the link to the site from which I found the quotes).

 

The fact that I quoted only a few sources in my post does not preclude the reality that I have read extensively on the subject of the Middle East conflict and its origins. But for the purposes of a blog post, linking to only a couple of handy sites which have already collected numerous quotes from many different sources, is an expedient way to get the message across (It beats having to manually type out quotes from books, like I did with the Dershowitz quote that I used).

Mr. Farrar, to whom David refers as an Arab-American Journalist, is a Lebanese Christian. He publishes a libertarian/conservative news site called World Net Daily. Mr Farrar has come out on record as opposing a Palestinian state and supporting Israel’s settlement enterprise. In the article that David copies, he has cobbled together a series of odd, decontextualized quotes from various Arab sources, presumably proving that the Palestinian People do not exist.

 

There are oddities like a PLO official stating to a Dutch newspaper in 1977 that “There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.” Which demonstrates… what, exactly? That the PLO admits there’s no such thing as a Palestinian? Come on. The only thing it proves to me is that Mr. Farrar has nothing intelligent to say on this subject.

Why does Schamess dismiss Mr Farah’s article, and this quote, so easily? If I “cobbled together a series of odd, decontextualized quotes from various Arab sources” like Schamess is claiming, then why isn’t he putting them into the correct context for us? Is he denying that the quote was made? Or is there some other, hidden meaning, not readily apparent on the face of it?

 

Given that I have provided quotes that ostensibly prove my point, the onus is on Schamess to rebut them. He has not even come close to doing so. What he has done is the intellectual equivalent of calling Joseph Farah a “poopyhead.”

 

(I suppose Mr Schamess’ utopian vision of the world would lead him to also dismiss these quotes as “proving nothing.”)

 

Schamess continues:

The existence of the Palestinian people seems altogether self-evident and not worth debating.

Again with the intellectual laziness.

There are many people alive now who remember homes and villages in Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 and afterwards. Ask virtually any Arab living in Gaza, the West Bank or Israel, and she or he will identify as Palestinian. There are large numbers of expatriates living in other Arab countries, in Africa, in Europe and the U.S. who consider themselves Palestinian. Given this experiential evidence, one must ask, in what sense could it possibly be valid to say that the Palestinian people do not exist?

Mr Schamess’ argument is that because there were Arabs living in pre-1948 Israel, and these Arabs and their descendants openly identify as being “palestinian”, then this disproves the contention that the “Palestinian people do not exist”.

 

Problem is, I never contended this. I agree that there is a concept of a “palestinian” people. This is what I did say:

…the “palestinians” are not a race, nor a distinct nation of people (except for the purposes of being used as a tool against Israel)

In other words, my contention is that they are neither a race, nor distinguishable nation of people, but rather Arabs not distinguishable from Arabs of surrounding countries, and whose “unique” identity was formed for the purposes of destroying Israel.

 

Schamess then cites various sources:

..tracing the emergence of a distinct Palestinian national entity. This was fully developed by World War II. Its aspirations, like those of the Jewish people, were independence and statehood. In fact, it was the collision of these identical aspirations in the same geographic space that gave rise to the current conflict.

The sources he quotes actually prove that no “palestinian identity” existed for centuries, like opponents of Israel are always claiming. Rather, they show that a movement of “palestinian nationalism” arose as a reaction to the influx of Jews returning to their homeland. For instance, have a look at Schamess’s quotation from Benny Morris:

Revisionist historian Bennie Morris (“Righteous Victims” Vintage Books, NY, 2001) documents the emergence of Palestinian national identity before World War I:

It was at this time…that a distinct Palestinian local patriotism began to emerge… This tendency or orientation… gradually groped its way forward, largely in reaction to the burgeoning Zionist presence.

Schamess’ then quotes Morris to prove that a distinct “palestinian” identity arose.

Morris mentions features of early Palestinian culture that were distinct from those of other Arab states, particularly the admixture of Christians with Muslims:

…important to the development of a distinct “Palestinian” identity were common religious structures, observances and festivities, both Christian and Muslim. For the Christians, Palestine was a single conceptual entity, the Holy Land… Among the Muslims the Naba Musa festivities, dating from the twelfth century days of Saladin and celebrating the birth of Moses, each year brought together, as the site near Jericho traditionally accepted as his grave, thousands of Pilgrism from various parts of Palestine. The growing sense of a distinct community was expressed and reinforced by the appearance in Jaffa in 1911 of a daily newspaper named Filastin. And in the decade befoe World War I the term “Palestine”… came into common usage among educated Palestinian Arabs.

Again, the only point this does dispute is that made by opponents of Israel – that a nation of palestinians has existed in the land for centuries. The phenomenom of Arabs from neighboring states developing their own identity, largely as a reaction to a Jewish presence in the land, does not negate anything I have said, but actually supports my case!

 

In order to support his assertions, Schamess includes this quote from Ze’ev Jabotinsky:

I do not mean to assert that no agreement whatever is possible with the Arabs of the Land of Israel. But a voluntary agreement is just not possible. As long as the Arabs preserve a gleam of hope that they will suceed in getting rid of us, nothing in this world can cause them to relinquish this hope, precisely because they are not a rabble but a living people. And a living people will be ready to yield on such fateful issues only when they have given up all hope of getting rid of the alien settlers.

As well as this quote from David Ben Gurion:

The Arab in Palestine need not be, and cannot be, a Zionist. He cannot desire that the Jews become a majority. Therein lies the real contradiction, the political contradiction, between us and the Arabs… The debate over whether there is an Arab national movement or not is so much futile verbiage. For us the essence is that this movement commands the support of masses. We do not see it as a movement for regeneration, and its moral value is dubious; however, in the political sense it is a national movement.

Which only go to support my contention that the “palestinian” identity arose out of political considerations, and a desire to rid the region of the Jewish presence in the land.

 

Schamess continues with more quotes demonstrating the crystallization of “palestinian nationalism,” until

..by 1940 there existed a cohesive Palestinian Arab population distinct from those of the neighboring Arab states in their history, political outlook, leadership, economy, religious practices and culture.

So in other words, Schamess attempt to rebut my contention that “the palestinians are not a race, nor a distinct nation of people (except for the purposes of being used as a tool against Israel)” by providing quotes from various sources, which show the emergence of a “palestinian national identity” just prior to World War I, as a response to Jewish immigration. But where did these Arabs come from if not from the surrounding Arab countries?

 

In his lengthy response, Schamess even manages to gloss over the 1929 Arab riots as follows:

The Jewish-Arab conflict under British rule came to a first head in the 1929 riots over rights to the Al Aqsa Mosque/Wailing Wall. The death toll consisted of 113 Jews and 116 Arabs.

But this is what actually happened:

On Friday, August 23, Arab mobs attacked Jews in Jerusalem, Motza, Hebron, Safed, Jaffa, and other parts of the country. The Old City of Jerusalem was hit particularly hard. By the next day, the Haganah was able to mount a defense and further attacks in Jerusalem were repulsed. But, the violence in Jerusalem generated rumors throughout the country, many carrying fabricated accounts of Jewish attempts to defile Muslim holy places, all to inflame the Arab residents. Villages were plundered and destroyed by Arab mobs. While attacks on Jews in Tel Aviv and Haifa were thwarted by Jewish defenses, there were Jewish deaths in Hebron, where 67 Jewish men and women were slaughtered and Safed, where 18 Jews were killed, as well as scattered other losses totaling 133 Jewish deaths, with more than 300 wounded.

 

The Arab violence in Hebron was one of the worst atrocities in the modern history of Israel. On the afternoon of Friday, August 23, 1929 Jerusalem Arabs came to Hebron with false reports of Jews murdering Arabs during the rioting there, even saying thousands of Arabs had been killed. Despite the fact that Jews and Arabs in Hebron had been on good terms, a mass of frenzied Arab rioters formed and proceeded to the Hebron Yeshiva where a lone student was murdered. The next day, the Jewish Sabbath, the killing continued as an Arab mob of hundreds surrounded homes where Jews sought refuge, broke in and murdered scores of Jews in a bloody rampage.

 

The dead Jews that day included Eliezer Dan Slonim, a man highly esteemed by the Arabs. He was the director of the local English-Palestine bank whose many clients were Arabs, and was the sole Jewish member of the Hebron Municipal Council. He had many friends among the Arab elders, who had promised to protect him. Twenty-two people died in Slonim’s house that day including his wife and two young children.

 

By the end of the riot, during which the British police did nothing to protect the Jews or stop the violence, sixty-seven Jews were dead and hundreds wounded. The survivors were isolated in a police station for three days while the Arabs rampaged through their houses, stealing and destroying Jewish property, unmolested by the British authorities. At the end of the three days the Jews were sent to Jerusalem, exiled from their homes for the crime of being a victim of the Arab riot. Hebron’s ancient Jewish quarter was empty and destroyed. For the next 39 years no Jew lived in Hebron, not until after it was liberated by the Israeli military during the Six Day War in 1967.

Schamess’ penchant for glossing over historical facts that may undermine his assertions is also manifest by his description of the failure to form a palestinian state:

In subsequent decades, the Palestinian historical experience diverged even farther from that of the other Arab peoples. The Jewish Palestinian state was realized, the Arab one was not.

For a start, this is blatantly false. What about Transjordan?

The 1922 White Paper (also called the Churchill White Paper) was the first official manifesto interpreting the Balfour Declaration. It was issued on June 3, 1922, after investigation of the 1921 disturbances. Although the White Paper stated that the Balfour Declaration could not be amended and that the Jews were in Palestine by right, it partitioned the area of the Mandate by excluding the area east of the Jordan River from Jewish settlement. That land, 76% of the original Palestine Mandate land, was renamed Transjordan and was given to the Emir Abdullah by the British.

 

The White Paper included the statement that the British Government:

… does not want Palestine to become “as Jewish as England is English”, rather should become “a center in which Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride.”

After the partition, Transjordan remained part of the Palestine Mandate and its legal system applied to all residents, both East and West of the Jordan River, who all carried Palestine Mandate passports. Palestine Mandate currency was the legal tender in Transjordan as well as the area West of the river. This was the consistent situation until 1946, 24 years later, when Britain completed the action by unilaterally granting Transjordan its independence. Thus the British subverted the purpose of the Palestine Mandate, partitioned Palestine and created an independent Palestine-Arab state with no regard for the rights and needs of the Jewish population.

 

According to Sir Alec Kirkbride, the British representative in the area, Transjordan was:

… intended to serve as a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs once the National Home for the Jews in Palestine, which [Britain was] pledged to support, became an accomplished fact. There was no intention at that stage of forming the territory east of the River Jordan into an independent Arab state.

Be that as it may, the reason that the “palestinians” did not receive another state east of the Jordan was entirely their fault.

Political pressure by proponents of partition was used to get the UN to pass the partition proposal. Most of the Jews accepted the proposal, in particular the Jewish Agency, which was the Jewish state-in-formation. The more extreme nationalist Jewish groups like Menachem Begin’s Irgun Tsvai Leumi and Yitzhak Shamir’s Lehi (group), (known as the Stern Gang) which had been fighting the British, rejected it. Numerous records indicate the joy of Palestine’s Jewish inhabitants as they attended to the U.N. session voting for the division proposal. Up to this day, Israeli history books mention November 29th (the date of this session) as the most important date in the Israel’s acquisition of independence. However Jews did criticise the lack of territorial continuity for the Jewish state.

 

The Arab leadership opposed the plan, arguing that it violated the rights of the majority of the people in Palestine, which at the time was 67% non-Jewish (1,237,000) and 33% Jewish (608,000). They criticised the amount and quality of land given to Israel. The Jews had been offered 55% percent of the land when they owned less than 8% of it. However, it should be noted that over 70% of the land area was not actually owned by anyone (Jewish or Arab) — it was desert under the control of the British Mandate. The population for the proposed Jewish State would be 498,000 Jews and 325,000 non-Jews. The population for the proposed Arab State would be 807,000 non-Jews and 10,000 Jews. The population for the proposed International Zone would be 105,000 non-Jews and 100,000 Jews.

And here is another example of his “glossing over” the facts:

Nor were the Palestinian Arabs in a position to merge into the surrounding countries.

Why not? It is more of an issue of the Arab states not wanting to take them in, since they serve as a tool for deflecting discontent away from their tyrannical regimes, and towards Israel. How else can you explain the fact that not one of the oil rich Arab states has ever offered to take in the PLO Arabs (and in fact curtail their rights), while Israel has managed to absorb millions of Jews from around the world (despite its limited size and natural resources)?

 

Schamess goes on:

It sometimes seems to me that the modern Zionist/expansionist movement would like to erase everything that came after the Balfour declaration and the 1922 League of Nations resolution.

Who is erasing everything that came after Balfour declaration and the 1922 League of Nations resolution, including the establishment of Transjordan, the Partition Plan, and the efforts of the Arab states and the PLO Arabs to annihilate the State of Israel? Sounds to me like Schamess is projecting.

 

He concludes:

David’s post is an example of the low ebb that Jewish scholarship has reached under the influence of the expansionist or neo-Zionist ideal. We are consigned to spreading transparent falsehoods in defense of a goal for which there can be no rational defense: driving others off their land, not to create or even maintain a Jewish state, but simply to annex additional territory to our existing state.

I’ll let you all be the judge on who’s post is “an example of the low ebb that Jewish scholarship has reached”.

 

Update: In response to a commenter criticizing his post accusing me of racism, Schamess decides to accuses me of plagiarizing from the Betar site.

 

“Plagiarize” is defined as

1. To use and pass off (the ideas or writings of another) as one’s own.
2. To appropriate for use as one’s own passages or ideas from (another).

Given that I clearly linked to my sources, and did not attempt to pass these quotes as my own, Mr Schamess is once again making groundless, but serious, accusations. The question is whether he is willing to tread this legal minefield.


Following my response to this post, Mr Schamess writes:

I’m afraid I hurt David’s feelings.

Why do I get the feeling he really couldn’t care less if he hurt my feelings or not? In any event, it takes alot more than a misguided post from some stranger to hurt my feelings.

I called an entry on his blog vicious, uninformed and racist. The post in question states “The Palestinians aren’t really a people in the normal sense of the word. In a very genuine way, they are simply the dark shadow of the Israeli people…. Are the Palestinians nothing but Orcs?” “Orcs” are evil cannibalistic monsters depicted in JRR Tolkien’s novel, “The Lord of the Rings”. Was I wrong.

The quoted passage was written by “Tom Paine” of Silent Running. And to make his point, Mr Schamess has taken the liberty to delete a whole passage, which explains the “Orcs” reference. Here is the full quote:

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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