Thursday, February 28, 2013

Don't let Yachad take you for a ride


 Hannah Weisfeld


Reluctant as this blog is to wade into UK Jewish politics, the uproar following the refusal by majority vote of the Zionist Federation to admit Yachad - the so-called British J-Street - as an affiliated member, calls for some comment.

Yachad, a one-woman band led by the 30-something Hannah Weisfeld, claims to be a pro-Israel, pro-Zionist organisation. Its stance may be summed up as follows: for Israel's good - both to maintain Israel as a democratic state, and for the sake of peace, Israel should withdraw from the West Bank and stop 'judaising' East Jerusalem.

I happened to share a taxi with Hannah Weisfeld a few weeks ago. There I raised the question:   Yachad is supporting Arab property rights: why can it not also support Jewish property rights? Weisfeld has conducted quite a campaign on behalf of 'Arab occupants 'unjustly' evicted from their homes in Silwan, although the Israeli courts have on many occasions ruled in their favour. Yet Yachad has not raised a peep on behalf of  the Yemenite Jews who lost their rights to their homes in 1936, when they were advised the British to leave Silwan - as their security could not be guaranteed following Arab attacks. While it is keen to defend the interests of (in the main) Arab squatters,  it has utterly ignored the rights of Jews driven out in 1948.

Hannah did not seem to know about the Yemenites of Silwan. Yachad is not prepared to defend the rights of Jews who wish to recover the properties they abandoned in 'Arab' East Jerusalem. Here her view concords with the Arab narrative: Jews trying to move into Arab East Jerusalem are part of a deplorable, politically-motivated plan to Judaise the area, while petrodollar-funded, uncontrolled Arab building is unworthy of attention. Broadly speaking, Yachad thinks an equitable exchange of property ownership has already taken place - with Jews moving into Arab homes in West Jerusalem and Arabs into East. Just as Yachad was not going open the West Jerusalem can-of-worms, so did it seek to maintain the status of the East Jerusalem can-of-worms, viewing the division of Jerusalem between Jewish and Arab zones as pretty much set in stone.

But that view ignores the distortions in the wider picture: Arabs who wish to sell their property to Jews are condemned to death, while Jews can make a free choice. The Israeli government has compensated some Arabs for their lost property, while not a single dispossessed Jew now living in Israel can get his claim recognised by an Arab state, let alone obtain compensation.    

When I asked Hannah why Yachad does not defend the rights of Jews evicted from Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus, the stock answer came back: what does that have to do with the Palestinians? Everything, I answered. Documents of the time indicate that the Arab states considered the Jews in Arab countries members of the JEWISH MINORITY OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE. If Arab states could make the link, so should Yachad - among others.

Before I could elaborate, our shared taxi ride was over.

I would have liked to have added that it is not for Yachad to prejudge a solution for Jerusalem. It is not for Yachad to de-contextualise the conflict so as to ignore Jewish property rights. It is not for Yachad to presume that only pressure to make concessions need be applied on the Israeli side. The impression is unavoidable, despite its pleas to be pro-Zionist, that Yachad is not acting in the best interests of Israel. And for all those reasons, the Zionist Federation was right not to admit Yachad to its ranks.    



  

18 comments:

Stephen Franklin said...

It goes beyond Yachad not knowing that the Grand Mufti forced the Yemenite Jews out of their homes in Kfar Shiloah (now Silwan). Unbelievably in a talk on the legality of the settlements (Yachad said they were illegal) the speaker suggested that the Palestinians has behaved humanely in the capture in 1948 of Gush Etzion. He didn't even know about the Kfar Etzion massacre.

I corrected him both as to the legality of the settlements and let him know what happened in Kfar Etzion, and was accused of disrupting the session, even though it was a discussion, (although not be the speaker) because what I said did not confirm the Yachad line.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

I have heard the line before to the effect that there was an exchange of housing between Jews up to 1947-48 in "east Jerusalem" and Arabs up to that same period in "west Jerusalem." But it doesn't hold water. First because the Arabs were the aggressors in the Israeli War of Independence that actually began with Arab attacks on Jewish civilians, including Jerusalem, on 30 November 1947, attacks that continued as long as the Arabs were militarily capable of making such attacks.And because if the Arabs had accepted this exchange before the 6 Day War, then you might say that there was some sort of equity or rough justice to it. However, the Arabs refused any peace agreement or exchange of territory before the 6 Day War. Furthermore, in June 1967, the Arabs --specifically the Arab Legion of Jordan-- were again the aggressors on the Jerusalem front, attacking the Jewish areas with their artillery on the Gilo ridge, etc. How many chances do or should the Arabs get to drive the Jews out, and then, when the Jews have won and driven the Arabs back --again-- should the Arabs get another chance, in this case a third chance?
I have heard that Yahad argument before and it is unjust.

Anonymous said...

As my mother used to say: who is this Yashad and how does she think she represents us?
Every once in a while you'll have a contestent come up and deny what thousands have built. it's a story of "hitch your wagon to a star", meaning that this is a good way to make yourself known!!!
sultana
Furthermore in giving her the space you did you are dragging her out of complete anonymity.
sultana

bataween said...

Sultana,
This Yachad controversy is front page headlines in the Jewish press today! Hardly obscure in the UK. What people don't realise is that they are subconsciously swallowing the Palestinian narrative when they support groups like this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer. Making headlines is what this woman wants.
Sorry for bothering you.
sultana

bataween said...

You are right, we are giving her the oxygen of publicity. But since she is getting it anyway, we might as well point out what is wrong with her standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Yachad supported the UN upgrade to Palestinian status which was opposed by Israel and every other western country. Every truly pro-Israel organisation believes that negotiations between the two sides are the only way forward. By giving the Palestinians access to the International Court and by giving them increased access to the UN with its inbuilt majority against Israel, Yachad’s action posed a threat to Israel’s security. Yachad even supports the immediate creation of a Palestinian State ...

Anonymous said...

Weisfeld of Yachad has said the BDS movement is not antisemitic. It has been shown time and time again that the BDS movement contains many extreme antisemites. Weisfeld/Yachad also support separate labelling of goods from Judea/Samaria. The view of the “Fair Play Campaign” (the UK Jewish Community’s anti-boycott organisation) is to oppose separate labelling, as the slippery slope to a partial and full boycott. It makes the comments of Wineman and Davis in today's JC utterly craven and hypocritical. They are 100% wrong and the ZF is 100% right. But we knew that. itical

Unknown said...

Let me comment on one issue (on which I do not pretend to be an expert). I suspect that the controversy over goods from the West Bank settlements can be seen partly as a consumer goods labelling problem - the sort of thing that the Ministry of Ag deals with all the time. The goods are sometimes labelled 'Made in Israel', which is inaccurate unless the Government of Israel certifies that the settlements are within Israel - which they will not. A poor analogy would be if a US-owned factory in China labelled its goods 'Made in USA'. Of course there are other settlements that label their goods 'Made in the West Bank' which is accurate but ambiguous - made by Arabs?

Bob from Buckinghamshire

Anonymous said...

I hope that this piece gets cross-posted at Harry's Place as a pest named Richard Armbach is trumpetting Yachad as having rightly "embarrassed" the Zionist Federation.

bataween said...

You can post a link on HP if you like!

Anonymous said...

Is there any reliable data on the number of Jewish/Muslim inhabitants of East Jerusalem after those published by Marx in the mid 1800's?

Stephen Franklin said...

Comment on Yachad's Facebook page:

Do you really mean that you run trips to East Jerusalem and the West Bank because some British Jews go to Israel to visit their family in Haifa? When you visit East Jerusalem do your visitors learn that until the British mandate more Jews than Muslims lived in the part of Jerusalem that Jordan annexed in 1950? Do they learn that the Jews of Silwan (then called Kfar Shiloah) were forced out by Husseini's mob in 1938? (Also most of the Jews in the old city, which was captured by Husseini's mob chose not to return when the British re-established control. The Brits advised the Jews to stay out of Kfar Shiloah even though all the homes there were built, owned and had been lived in by Yemeni Jews prior to that pogrom.) Do they learn that the Jordanian army captured the Jewish Quarter of the Old City (under British command and including a platoon of former SS soldiers) and also captured Shimon HaTzadik, the homes in which were considered by the Jordanian regime to be enemy property? I think not. They are told only one side of the story and it is not the Israeli side. Do they also learn that it was Natanyahu who signed the Hebron protocol with Arafat, for the first time giving Muslims exclusive access to a part of the shrine built by Herod the Great above the tombs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? I doubt very much that they are informed that in a poll two years ago the Arabs of Jerusalem were asked "If a permanent, two state solution is able to be worked out, would you prefer to become a citizen of Palestine,all of the rights and privileges of other citizens of Palestine, or would you prefer to become a citizen of Israel, with all the rights and privileges of other citizens of Israel?" and more said that they would prefer to become citizens of Israel than said they would prefer to become citizens of Palestine. The truth is that Yachad is not pro-Israel as it claims and that is why the Zionist Federation chose not to accept its application for membership.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

For Anon,
here are several reports of the Jewish majority in Jerusalem in the mid-19th century.

http://ziontruth.blogspot.co.il/2006/03/jewish-majority-
in-jerusalem-in-1853.html

http://ziontruth.blogspot.co.il/2005/09/jerusalem-population-in-19th-century.html

Anonymous said...

Eliyahu,
Thank you very much. Just out of curiosity... how reliable are these numbers/sources?
I've read a lot of criticism about "from time immemorial", but most of them talk about the author's flaws without ever discussing the numbers presented there. How reliable is the book when talking about the Arab immigration into Palestine?

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Many sources indicate a Jewish majority in Jerusalem from the mid-19th century. You could also check British historian Tudor Parfitt.

sarah said...

Some sites link to the Ottoman Turkish census records which show from the mid-19th century on, there was a majority Jewish population of Jerusalem (there was no "east" and "west").

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Here is info on the Shim'on haTsadiq Quarter in formerly Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem [between 1948-1967]. It seems that Miss Weisfeld denies Jewish rights on the Jewish-owned real estate surrounding the Tomb of Simon the Just [Shim`on haTsadiq].

http://ziontruth.blogspot.co.il/2010/02/tomb-of-simon-just-shimon-hatsadiq-in.html

http://ziontruth.blogspot.co.il/2009/08/old-synagogue-in-shimon-hatsadiq.html