The Origin Of Almost Every Jewish Last Name

Standard

jewish surname mapSlateRichard Andree’s 1881 map of the Jews of Central Europe.

Ashkenazic Jews were among the last Europeans to take family names. Some German-speaking Jews took last names as early as the 17th century, but the overwhelming majority of Jews lived in Eastern Europe and did not take last names until compelled to do so. The process began in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1787 and ended in Czarist Russia in 1844.

In attempting to build modern nation-states, the authorities insisted that Jews take last names so that they could be taxed, drafted, and educated (in that order of importance). For centuries, Jewish communal leaders were responsible for collecting taxes from the Jewish population on behalf of the government, and in some cases were responsible for filling draft quotas. Education was traditionally an internal Jewish affair.

Until this period, Jewish names generally changed with every generation. For example, if Moses son of Mendel (Moyshe ben Mendel) married Sarah daughter of Rebecca (Sara bat rivka), and they had a boy and named it Samuel (Shmuel), the child would be called Shmuel ben Moyshe. If they had a girl and named her Feygele, she would be called Feygele bas Sora.

Jews distrusted the authorities and resisted the new requirement. Although they were forced to take last names, at first they were used only for official purposes. Among themselves, they kept their traditional names. Over time, Jews accepted the new last names, which were essential as Jews sought to advance within the broader society and as the shtetles were transformed or Jews left them for big cities.

The easiest way for Jews to assume an official last name was to adapt the name they already had, making it permanent. This explains the use of “patronymics” and “matronymics.”

PATRONYMICS (son of …)

In Yiddish or German, “son” would be denoted by “son” or “sohn” or “er.” In most Slavic languages, like Polish or Russian, it would be “wich” or “witz.”

For example: The son of Mendel took the last name Mendelsohn; the son of Abraham became Abramson or Avromovitch; the son of Menashe became Manishewitz; the son of Itzhak became Itskowitz; the son of Berl took the name Berliner; the son of Kesl took the name Kessler, etc.

MATRONYMICS (daughter of …)

Reflecting the prominence of Jewish women in business, some families made last names out of women’s first names: Chaiken — son of Chaikeh; Edelman — husband of Edel; Gittelman — husband of Gitl; Glick or Gluck — may derive from Glickl, a popular woman’s name as in the famous “Glickl of Hameln,” whose memoirs, written around 1690, are an early example of Yiddish literature.

Gold/Goldman/Gulden may derived from Golda; Malkov from Malke; Perlman — husband of Perl; Rivken — may derive from Rivke; Soronsohn—son of Sarah.

PLACE NAMES

The next most common source of Jewish last names is probably places. Jews used the town or region where they lived, or where their families came from, as their last name. As a result, the Germanic origins of most East European Jews is reflected in their names.

For example, Asch is an acronym for the towns of Aisenshtadt or Altshul orAmshterdam. Other place-based Jewish names include: Auerbach/Orbach; Bacharach; Berger (generic for townsman); Berg(man), meaning from a hilly place; Bayer — from Bavaria; Bamberger; Berliner, Berlinsky — from Berlin; Bloch (foreigner); Brandeis; Breslau; Brodsky; Brody; Danziger; Deutch/Deutscher — German;Drues ( Drus) ,Dorf(man), meaning villager; Eisenberg; Epstein; Florsheim; Frankel — from the Franconia region of Germany; Frankfurter; Ginsberg; Gordon — from Grodno, Lithuania or from the Russian word gorodin, for townsman; Greenberg; Halperin—from Helbronn, Germany; Hammerstein; Heller — from Halle, Germany; Hollander — not from Holland, but from a town in Lithuania settled by the Dutch; Horowitz, Hurwich, Gurevitch — from Horovice in Bohemia; Koenigsberg; Krakauer — from Cracow, Poland; Landau; Lipsky — from Leipzig, Germany; Litwak — from Lithuania; Minsky — from Minsk, Belarus; Mintz—from Mainz, Germany; Oppenheimer; Ostreicher — from Austria; Pinsky — from Pinsk, Belarus; Posner — from Posen, Germany; Prager — from Prague; Rappoport — from Porto, Italy; Rothenberg — from the town of the red fortress in Germany; Shapiro — from Speyer, Germany; Schlesinger — from Silesia, Germany; Steinberg; Unger — from Hungary; Vilner — from Vilna, Poland/Lithuania; Wallach—from Bloch, derived from the Polish word for foreigner; Warshauer/Warshavsky — from Warsaw; Wiener — from Vienna; Weinberg.

OCCUPATIONAL NAMES

Craftsmen/Workers

Ackerman — plowman; Baker/Boker — baker; Blecher — tinsmith; Fleisher/Fleishman/Katzoff/Metger — butcher; Cooperman — coppersmith; Drucker — printer; Einstein — mason; Farber — painter/dyer; Feinstein — jeweler; Fisher — fisherman; Forman — driver/teamster; Garber/Gerber — tanner; Glazer/Glass/Sklar — glazier; Goldstein — goldsmith; Graber — engraver; Kastner — cabinetmaker; Kunstler — artist; Kramer — storekeeper; Miller — miller; Nagler — nailmaker; Plotnick — carpenter; Sandler/Shuster — shoemaker; Schmidt/Kovalsky — blacksmith; Shnitzer — carver; Silverstein — jeweler; Spielman — player (musician?); Stein/Steiner/Stone — jeweler; Wasserman — water carrier.

Merchants

Garfinkel/Garfunkel — diamond dealer; Holzman/Holtz/Waldman — timber dealer; Kaufman — merchant; Rokeach — spice merchant; Salzman — salt merchant; Seid/Seidman—silk merchant; Tabachnik — snuff seller; Tuchman — cloth merchant; Wachsman — wax dealer; Wechsler/Halphan — money changer; Wollman — wool merchant; Zucker/Zuckerman — sugar merchant.

Related to tailoring

Kravitz/Portnoy/Schneider/Snyder — tailor; Nadelman/Nudelman — also tailor, but from “needle”; Sher/Sherman — also tailor, but from “scissors” or “shears”; Presser/Pressman — clothing presser; Futterman/Kirshner/Kushner/Peltz — furrier; Weber — weaver.

Medical

Aptheker — druggist; Feldsher — surgeon; Bader/Teller — barber.

Related to liquor trade

Bronfman/Brand/Brandler/Brenner — distiller; Braverman/Meltzer — brewer; Kabakoff/Krieger/Vigoda — tavern keeper; Geffen — wine merchant; Wine/Weinglass — wine merchant; Weiner — wine maker.

Religious/Communal

Altshul/Althshuler — associated with the old synagogue in Prague; Cantor/Kazan/Singer/Spivack — cantor or song leader in shul; Feder/Federman/Schreiber — scribe; Haver — from haver (court official); Klausner — rabbi for small congregation; Klopman — calls people to morning prayers by knocking on their window shutters; Lehrer/Malamud/Malmud — teacher; Rabin — rabbi (Rabinowitz—son of rabbi); London — scholar, from the Hebrew lamden(misunderstood by immigration inspectors); Reznick — ritual slaughterer; Richter — judge; Sandek — godfather; Schechter/Schachter/Shuchter etc. — ritual slaughterer from Hebrew schochet; Shofer/Sofer/Schaeffer — scribe; Shulman/Skolnick — sexton; Spector — inspector or supervisor of schools.

PERSONAL TRAITS

Alter/Alterman — old; Dreyfus—three legged, perhaps referring to someone who walked with a cane; Erlich — honest; Frum — devout ; Gottleib — God lover, perhaps referring to someone very devout; Geller/Gelber — yellow, perhaps referring to someone with blond hair; Gross/Grossman — big; Gruber — coarse or vulgar; Feifer/Pfeifer — whistler; Fried/Friedman—happy; Hoch/Hochman/Langer/Langerman — tall; Klein/Kleinman — small; Koenig — king, perhaps someone who was chosen as a “Purim King,” in reality a poor wretch; Krauss — curly, as in curly hair; Kurtz/Kurtzman — short; Reich/Reichman — rich; Reisser — giant; Roth/Rothman — red head; Roth/Rothbard — red beard; Shein/Schoen/Schoenman — pretty, handsome; Schwartz/Shwartzman/Charney — black hair or dark complexion; Scharf/Scharfman — sharp, i.e  intelligent; Stark — strong, from the Yiddish shtark ; Springer — lively person, from the Yiddish springen for jump.

INSULTING NAMES

These were sometimes foisted on Jews who discarded them as soon as possible, but a few may remain:

Billig — cheap; Gans — goose; Indyk — goose; Grob — rough/crude; Kalb — cow.

ANIMAL NAMES

It is common among all peoples to take last names from the animal kingdom. Baer/Berman/Beerman/Berkowitz/Beronson — bear; Adler — eagle (may derive from reference to an eagle in Psalm 103:5); Einhorn — unicorn; Falk/Sokol/Sokolovksy — falcon; Fink — finch; Fuchs/Liss — fox; Gelfand/Helfand — camel (technically means elephant but was used for camel too); Hecht—pike; Hirschhorn — deer antlers; Karp — carp; Loeb — lion; Ochs— ox; Strauss — ostrich (or bouquet of flowers); Wachtel — quail.

HEBREW NAMES

Some Jews either held on to or adopted traditional Jewish names from the Bible and Talmud. The big two are Cohen (Cohn, Kohn, Kahan, Kahn, Kaplan) and Levi (Levy, Levine, Levinsky, Levitan, Levenson, Levitt, Lewin, Lewinsky, Lewinson). Others include: Aaron — Aronson, Aronoff; Asher; Benjamin; David — Davis, Davies; Ephraim — Fishl; Emanuel — Mendel; Isaac — Isaacs, Isaacson/Eisner; Jacob — Jacobs, Jacobson, Jacoby; Judah — Idelsohn, Udell,Yudelson; Mayer/Meyer; Menachem — Mann, Mendel; Reuben — Rubin; Samuel — Samuels, Zangwill; Simon — Schimmel; Solomon — Zalman.

HEBREW ACRONYMS

Names based on Hebrew acronyms include: Baron — bar aron (son of Aaron); Beck —bene kedoshim (descendant of martyrs); Getz — gabbai tsedek (righteous synagogue official); Katz — kohen tsedek (righteous priest); Metz — moreh tsedek (teacher of righteousness); Sachs, Saks — zera kodesh shemo (his name descends from martyrs); Segal — se gan levia (second-rank Levite).

OTHER HEBREW- and YIDDISH-DERIVED NAMES

Lieb means “lion” in Yiddish. It is the root of many Ashkenazic last names, including Liebowitz, Lefkowitz, Lebush, and Leon. It is the Yiddish translation of the Hebrew word for lion — aryeh. The lion was the symbol of the tribe of Judah.

Hirsch means “deer” or “stag” in Yiddish. It is the root of many Ashkenazic last names, including Hirschfeld, Hirschbein/Hershkowitz (son of Hirsch), Hertz/Herzl, Cerf, Hart, and Hartman. It is the Yiddish translation of the Hebrew word for gazelle: tsvi. The gazelle was the symbol of the tribe of Naphtali.

Taub means “dove” in Yiddish. It is the root of the Ashkenazic last name Tauber. The symbol of the dove is associated with the prophet Jonah.

Wolf is the root of the Ashkenazic last names Wolfson, Wouk, and Volkovich. The wolf was the symbol of the tribe of Benjamin.

Eckstein — Yiddish for cornerstone, derived from Psalm 118:22.

Good(man) — Yiddish translation of the Hebrew word for “good”: tuviah.

Margolin — Hebrew for “pearl.”

INVENTED ‘FANCY SHMANCY’ NAMES

When Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire were required to assume last names, some chose the nicest ones they could think of and may have been charged a registration fee by the authorities. According to the YIVO Encyclopedia, “The resulting names often are associated with nature and beauty. It is very plausible that the choices were influenced by the general romantic tendencies of German culture at that time.” These names include: Applebaum — apple tree; Birnbaum — pear tree; Buchsbaum — box tree; Kestenbaum — chestnut tree; Kirshenbaum — cherry tree; Mandelbaum — almond tree; Nussbaum — nut tree; Tannenbaum — fir tree; Teitelbaum — palm tree.

Other names, chosen or purchased, were combinations with these roots:Blumen (flower), Fein (fine), Gold, Green, Lowen (lion), Rosen (rose), Schoen/Schein (pretty) — combined with berg (hill or mountain), thal (valley), bloom (flower), zweig (wreath), blatt (leaf), vald or wald (woods), feld (field).

Miscellaneous other names included Diamond; Glick/Gluck — luck; Hoffman — hopeful; Fried/Friedman — happiness; Lieber/Lieberman — lover.

Jewish family names from non-Jewish languages included: Sender/Saunders — from Alexander; Kagan — descended from the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people from Central Asia; Kelman/Kalman — from the Greek name Kalonymous, the Greek translation of the Hebrew shem tov (good name), popular among Jews in medieval France and Italy; Marcus/Marx — from Latin, referring to the pagan god Mars.

Finally, there were Jewish names changed or shortened by immigration inspectors or by immigrants themselves (or their descendants) to sound more American, which is why “Sean Ferguson” was a Jew.

Let us close with a ditty:

And this is good old Boston;
The home of the bean and the cod.
Where the Lowells speak only to the Cabots;
And the Cabots speak Yiddish, by God!

A version of this post originally appeared on Jewish Currents.

Bennett Muraskin is a contributing writer to Jewish Currents magazine and author of The Association of Jewish Libraries Guide to Yiddish Short Stories and Let Justice Well Up Like Water: Progressive Jews from Hillel to Helen Suzman, among other books.

NOW WATCH: This Midwestern Saying About Cheese Makes No Sense To The Rest Of America

 

Top 10 Fast Facts about Ariel Sharon

Standard

 Ariel Sharon was known as The Bulldozer: a larger-than-life, blustering figure who came to dominate the domestic political scene as much by his sheer physical presence as by his rhetoric. He died this afternoon at the age of 85. Here are some important facts you need to know about this very important leader.

Ariel Sharon in Knesset

10. Unit 101

In 1953, Sharon created an elite military group called Unit 101. This special branch of the Israel Defense Forces was responsible for the launching of retaliatory strikes against Palestinian terrorists.

9. Renewed friendship with Africa

He renewed diplomatic ties with some African nations that had been cut off nearly a decade earlier. He also assisted with the immigration of large numbers of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

8. Lebanon War 1982

Sharon allied himself with pro-Christian Lebanese, and supported a new government that was led by Bachir Gemayel. After Gemayel was assassination, a faction of Gemayel’s supporters attacked the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Palestinians held Sharon accountable for the terror. Sharon would later explain that the militia was supposed to rid them of any remaining terrorists. The Lebanese War put a dent on Sharon’s career as a military and political figure.

7. Meat lover

Sharon, 5-foot-7 and a meat lover, at times had weighed more than 300 pounds. Doctors ordered him to go on a diet in 2005 after a minor stroke. Stories of Sharon’s appetite and obesity were legendary in Israel. He would often stock his car with caviar, vodka, and snacks.

6. Eldest Son

Sharon’s eldest son, Gur, died at age 11 in a gun accident in 1967.  Gur was playing with his friend when they found an antique gun and the friend accidentally pulled the trigger. Gur died in Sharon’s arms on the way to the hospital.

ariel sharon and david ben gurion

5. Hometown

Sharon was very connected to his family farm in the Negev Desert. He asked for updated information when every calf was born, according to Sharon: The Life of a Leader.

4. Roadmap to peace

In May 2003, Sharon approved the Road Map for Peace, which paved the way to open a dialogue with Mahmud Abbas, showing his willingness to establish a Palestinian state.

3. Marriage

Sharon was married twice. His first wife Margaret died in a car crash in 1962. He soon remarried Margaret’s sister Lily and the two were married until Lily died of cancer in 200.

2. Health problems

Sharon suffered a minor ischemic stroke, while still in office. He had no major health concerns before the major stroke that left him in a coma for 8 years. His obesity, combined with high cholesterol, contributed to his failing health.

1.Legacy

He is ranked among the most powerful leaders in the history of Israel, who succeeded in removing the Israeli soldiers from Gaza. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the tensions diminish.

Related articles

 

Sharon’s political legacy: Livni and Lapid are in his debt

Standard
Pulling Israel out of Gaza, Sharon created a new constituency of Israeli voters looking for peace but without compromising on security. Its impact is felt even today

His military prowess made him famous, his disregard for the rules infamous and his decision to pull Israel out of Gaza a legend, but few outside of Israel remember him as the unlikely father of the Israeli political center.

Kadima election poster (Photo: Gilad Kollorchik)
Kadima election poster (Photo: Gilad Kollorchik)

Following his overwhelming defeat in the 1999 elections,Benjamin Netanyahu resigned the Likud leadership, and Sharon was elected as his successor in Israel’s right-wing party.

Related stories:

In 2001, with the Likud under his control, General Sharon ran against Ehud Barak in a special election for prime minister, and won by a landslide. Sharon was still the epitome of the Israeli rightwing: Militant, headstrong and unabashedly opposed to the land-for-peace formula.

But after two years of a brutal and bloody intifada, which left more than 4,000 Palestinians and Israelis dead, Sharon began to promote his plan for unilateral Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

The plan swayed neither to the left nor right: On the one hand it called for the uprooting of Israeli settlements, settlements Sharon himself had built as housing minister, yet it wasn’t leftist: its underlying rationale was not one of dialogue and peace, but rather a unilateral “disengagement” from the Palestinian people – a severing of a rotting umbilical cord, not an end to the occupation.

More importantly, the plan was primarily concerned with Gaza, and not with the West Bank.

Against all odds, and despite a severe internal crisis within the Likud, the Disengagement Plan took place in August of 2005; eight thousand settlers were removed from Gaza, and their homes demolished. In the aftermath and the not unexpected political fallout, Sharon announced his departure from the Likud to establish a new party – Kadima , or Forward.

The rationale behind the party’s formation was both ideological and political: Sharon had come to understand that he would not be able to realize his vision for the region through the Likud – yet it was obvious that he had no viable home in the Labor party that he despised, and which despised him just as much.

Pulling moderates from the Likud and disgruntled Labor MKs – among them current President Shimon Peres – Arik created ex nihilo a centrist party based around the premise of unilateral disengagement from Palestinians, a vaguely liberal ideology and a capitalistic agenda.

While it was far from being Israel’s first centrist party, Kadima succeeded where others had failed, overcoming classic political and ethnic fault lines and consolidating a constituency underrepresented on either the right or the left; both in terms of economy and security.

Unlike its political predecessors Shinui (Change) and before that Dash, which ran on a strong liberal and anti-religious agenda and failed to step beyond the niche of wealthy Ashkenazi voters, Kadima managed to pull in right-wing Sephardic votes – at the expense of the Likud – as well pragmatic and free-market oriented Labor voters.

Riding on Sharon’s political and military clout, Kadima managed to present a viable alternative to the classic left-right (Likud-Labor) divide. It allowed the middle class to vote for a two-state solution, without compromising on security. It was a peace-oriented jingoism of sorts.

Thus, Sharon, the man who always got his way, cashed in on a crisis of representation and facilitated a new type of politics in Israel – one unbound by international demands or messianic land-grabs.

Kadima’s impressive success in the elections after Sharon’s collapse consolidated the center as a long-term presence in the Israeli political scene; not so much as any specific party, but as a political force to be reckoned with.

And although Kadima failed to follow up on its 2006 victory, and its power seemed to slowly ebb away, the modest success ofTzipi Livni ‘s Hatnua and the massive win by Yair Lapid‘s Yesh Atidgive weight to the belief that there is a large number of Israelis still in search of a political home.

Lapid managed to pick up the votes that Livni and her Kadima successorShaul Mofaz lost, but the pool of voters over which they’re fighting is Sharon’s doing. Thanks to Sharon, a new constituency has been born in Israel.

From Around the Web
John Kerry Replaces Israelis’ Toilet Paper with Porcupines

John Kerry Replaces Israelis’ Toilet Paper…
Tablet Magazine
America and Israel: A Fraying Bond?

America and Israel: A Fraying Bond?
The Real Truth
UN interpreter caught criticising Palestine is offered job by Israeli PM (VIDEO)

UN interpreter caught criticising Palestine…
IrishCentral
Five Questions with David Axelrod

Five Questions with David Axelrod
The Financialist
The Truth About Airplane Overhead Bin Space

The Truth About Airplane Overhead Bin Space
The Vacation Gals
North Korea Revisited: An Unknown Land

North Korea Revisited: An Unknown Land
Modern Vacation Home Rental

Israel’s ex-PM Ariel Sharon dies

Standard

Ariel Sharon (November 2005)

Ariel Sharon’s life was intimately entwined with the life of the country he loved from the moment of its birth.

He fought in its war of independence in 1948 and from that point until he slipped into a coma in 2006 it seemed there was hardly a moment of national drama in which he did not play a role.

He was always a controversial figure in Israeli politics – certainly not universally loved – but in mourning his passing, Israelis are marking the loss of one of the few public figures left whose career stretched back to the earliest days of their state.

Ariel Sharon’s roots were in the world of Zionist pioneering zeal – he was born between the two world wars in Palestine when it was under British control – to a Jewish couple who had fled to the Holy Land from Belarus.

Ariel Sharon in Sinai (October 1967)Sharon was admired among Israelis for his military exploits

His reputation as an uncompromising and unapologetic defender of his country’s interests dates back to his military career.

He was still a teenager when he fought in the war of 1948 and in his autobiography, fittingly called Warrior, he described intense fighting against soldiers from the Jordanian Arab Legion for control of a crucial police fort on the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

He and his men lay in fields ignited by gunfire in the burning heat with water and ammunition running low.

He remained a soldier for many years afterwards, fighting with distinction in Israel’s battles with its Arab enemies in the wars of 1967 and 1973.

He helped set up Unit 101 – a commando detachment whose job was to conduct reprisal operations across the border in Arab territories to retaliate for attacks against Israel.

Such was his reputation as a military commander that some accounts of his army career say he was nicknamed the Lion of God after a particularly daring tactical parachute operation against Egypt in 1967 in the Sinai desert.

Shadow of Lebanon

But already there was a dark undertone. Allegations emerged that Egyptian prisoners had been shot and there were questions at home about whether the operation had been a military necessity.

Fifteen years later, it was another dark episode that brought Ariel Sharon international attention.

Continue reading the main story

Political Career

  • 1973: Elected Knesset member for Likud
  • 1975-77: Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s special security adviser
  • 1977-81: Minister of Agriculture
  • 1981-83: Minister of Defence
  • 1984-90: Minister of Trade and Industry
  • 1990-92: Minister of Construction and Housing
  • 1996-98: Minister of National Infrastructure
  • 1998-99: Foreign Minister
  • 2001-2006: Prime Minister
  • 2005: Left Likud to found Kadima

He was minister of defence when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. The strategic goal was to bring stability to the country’s northern border by crushing Yasser Arafat’s PLO, which was then holed up in southern Lebanon and Beirut.

But the war was deeply controversial at home as well as in the wider world.

And there was worse too.

Fighters from a Christian militia group which was co-operating closely with the Israelis carried out extensive massacres in Palestinian refugee camps in Sabra and Shatilla.

It is likely the names of those camps will be associated with Mr Sharon’s own name as long as the history of that conflict is remembered.

Eventually an Israeli inquiry held that Ariel Sharon was “indirectly responsible” for the killing.

The war cost many lives – Israeli as well as Palestinian and Lebanese – and it casts a long shadow over his historical legacy.

Second intifada

Within Israel Mr Sharon was not finished though.

Long a supporter of the settlers who moved on to the lands Israel captured in the war of 1967 in defiance of international opinion, he saw himself as a natural leader of the Israeli right.

In a volatile place, he could be a provocative figure.

Paul Adams looks back on the life and legacy of Ariel Sharon

In the year 2000, flanked by hundreds of Israeli riot police, he staged a visit to the area of the Old City in Jerusalem which contains sites sacred both to Jews and Muslims – the Temple Mount or Harem al-Sharif.

Even though the area is in the part of East Jerusalem captured by Israel in the war of 1967, Jewish rights to pray there are limited – and it is a microcosm of the tensions that fuel the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Intense rioting followed his visit there and many people trace the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada to that moment.

Ariel Sharon was characteristically unrepentant.

Bold moves

He became prime minister in 2001, promising to bring peace and security to his country but it was a turbulent period in Israeli politics and he eventually left the governing Likud party to found his own Kadima movement while still in office.

Ariel Sharon in Nitzanim, north of Gaza (May 2005)Sharon pulled Israeli troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005, a move which divided his supporters

Peace remained elusive then as it is elusive now.

It was on his watch as prime minister that construction of a barrier began with the intention of preventing suicide attacks on Israel from the Palestinian territories.

His supporters would argue that it worked. Its detractors would say it entrenched an already deep sense of separateness.

He did not shy away from bold political moves though. The man who had supported Israeli settlers ordered their removal from Gaza when he decided to withdraw from the Palestinian enclave beside the Mediterranean in 2005.

It was precisely his reputation as a hardliner that allowed him to sell to his supporters a decision with which many felt instinctively uncomfortable.

Not long afterwards, he slipped into the coma from which he was never to emerge and we will never know how he would have followed up that decision or where it might have led.

Ariel Sharon died hated by Israel’s enemies but there are plenty of Israelis who would argue that the depth of that hatred was a measure of the success with which he always defended the country he served.

About these ads

Occasionally, some of your visitors may see an advertisement here.

Tell me more | Dismiss this message

LIKE THIS:

Israel and the death of pan-Arabism

Standard

Nadaf and Bibi

The so-called Arab Spring unleashed forces that have been dormant for a century. Like their counterparts throughout the region, Israel’s Arabic-speaking minorities are changing in profound ways. But our leaders fail to grasp the implications of what is happening.

Consider the Christian community.

Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth, has become the symbol of this new period. Nadaf is the spiritual leader of an Israeli Christian movement calling for Israeli Christian youth to serve in the IDF. He is responsible for the 300 percent rise in Christian Arab enlistment in the IDF in the past year.

Nadaf does not hide his goal or his motivation. His seeks the full integration of Israel’s 130,000 Christians into Israeli society. He views military service as the key to that integration.

Nadaf is motivated to act by the massive persecution of Christians throughout the Arab world since the onset of the Arab revolutionary wave in December 2010.

As he explained in a recent interview with Channel 1, it is “in light of what we see happening to Christians in Arab countries, how they are slaughtered and persecuted on a daily basis, killed and raped just because they are Christians. Does this happen in the State of Israel? No, it doesn’t.”

Shahdi Halul, a reserve captain in the Paratroopers who works with Nadaf, declared, “Every Christian in the State of Israel should join the army and defend this country so it will exist forever. Because if, God forbid, the government is overthrown here, as it was in other places, we will be the first to suffer.”

These men, and their supporters, are the natural result of the most significant revolutionary development of the so-called Arab Spring: the demise of Arab nationalism.

As Ofir Haivry, vice president of the Herzl Institute, explained in an important article in the Mosaic online magazine, Arab nationalism was born in pan-Arabism – an invention of European powers during World War I that sought to endow the post-Ottoman Middle East with a new identity.
The core of the new identity was the Arabic language. The religious, tribal, ethnic and nationalist aspirations of the peoples of the Arabic- speaking region were to be smothered and replaced by a new pan-Arab identity.

For the Christians of the former Ottoman Empire, pan-Arabism was a welcome means of getting out from under the jackboot of the Islamic Laws of Omar, which reduce non-Muslims living under Muslim rule to the status of powerless dhimmis, who survive at the pleasure of their Islamic rulers.

But now pan-Arabism lies in ruins from North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula. The people of the region have gone back to identifying themselves by tribe, religion, ethnicity, and in the case of the Kurds and the Berbers, non-Arab national identity. In this new era, Christians find themselves imperiled, with few if any protectors or allies to be found.

As Haivry notes, Israel’s central strategic challenge has always been contending with pan-Arabism, which was invented at the same time that the nations of the world embraced modern Zionism.
Since its inception, pan-Arab leaders always saw Israel as the scapegoat on which to pin their failure to deliver on pan-Arabism’s promise of global Arab power and influence.

Israel changed its position on pan-Arabism drastically over the years. Once, Israel could see the dangers in pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism.

But since 1993, says Haivri, Israel’s national strategy has been based on appeasing the secular authoritarian pan-Arab leaders by offering land for peace to Syria and the PLO.

Haivry notes that Shimon Peres is the political godfather of Israel’s accommodationist strategy, which is rooted in a mix of perceived powerlessness on the one hand, and utopianism on the other.

The sense of powerlessness owes to the conviction that Israel cannot influence its environment. That the Arabs will never change. Israel’s neighbors will always see themselves primarily as Arabs, and they will always want, more than anything else, Arab states.

At the same time, the accommodationists hold the utopian belief that Israeli appeasement of Palestinian Arab nationalism will break through the wall of pan-Arab rejection, end hatred for the Jewish state, and even lead the Arabs to invite Israel to join the Arab League.

The so-called Arab Spring has put paid to every one of the accommodationists’ beliefs. From Egypt to Tunisia to Iraq to Syria, Israel’s neighbors are fighting each other as Sunnis, Shi’ites and Salafists, or as members of clans and tribes, without a thought for the alleged primacy of their Arab identity. What Israel’s Palestinian-state-obsessed Left has failed to realize is that many of Israel’s neighbors do not share the pan-Arab scapegoating of the Jewish state. So bribing the now largely irrelevant Arabs nationalists with another Arab state may do little more than create the newest victim of the Arab revolutions.
It is because they see what is happening to their co-religionists in the post-pan-Arab Middle East that more and more Israeli Christians realize they will lead safer, more prosperous and more fulfilling lives as Christian citizens in the Middle East’s only democracy than as pan-Arabs battling the Zionist menace.

But old habits die hard. Most of Israel’s elected Arab leaders owe their positions to their embrace of pan-Arabism. This embrace has brought them the support of the PLO and Europe, and since 1993, of the Israeli Left.

And so, since he first appeared on the scene, Father Nadaf’s life has been constantly threatened. Everyone from Arab members of Knesset to the Communist head of the Greek Orthodox Council has incited against him, calling him and his followers traitors to the Palestinian Arab nation.

He also threatens the Israeli Left. For its view of Israel’s strategic powerlessness and consequent need to appease its neighbors to remain relevant, the pan-Arab forces in the Arab world must be perceived as still dominant, even invincible. And so, the Israeli Left refuses to consider the larger strategic implications of the regional upheaval from which Nadaf’s initiative emerged.

Even worse, the official policy of the Netanyahu government appears based on this irrelevant Leftist view of the region. This is the implication of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s defeatist speech at the Foreign Ministry’s annual conference of ambassadors on Sunday.

Liberman’s speech has been rightly viewed as the supposedly right-wing politician’s formal break with his ideological camp and his embrace of the Left. In his remarks Liberman let it be known, that like the Left, he now bases his positions on a complete denial or avoidance of reality. For this, he was congratulated for his “maturity” by Peres who was sitting on the stage with him.

In his speech, Liberman acknowledged that the Obama administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians is horrible for Israel. But, he said, it is better than the European Union’s peace plan.

Never considering the possibility of saying no to both, Liberman said he thinks we should accept the bad American deal. His only condition is that he insists that the PLO accept towns in the Galilee and their 300,000 Israeli Arab residents.
Liberman’s surrender of the Galilee is a key component to his population swap plan. Under his plan, Israel would retain control over the fraction of Judea and Samaria in which large numbers of Israeli Jews live, in exchange for the area of the Galilee that is home to 300,000 Israeli Arabs. This plan has reportedly been presented to US Secretary of State John Kerry as an official Israeli position.
In other words, the Netanyahu government has failed to recognize the implications of the death of pan-Arabism. In maintaining their slavish devotion to the two-state formula, and viewing the Arabs in the Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and surrounding states as an impenetrable bloc, they are placing Israel’s future in the hands of actors who have already disappeared or will soon disappear. Instead of building alliances with non-Jewish citizens of Israel, such as Druse and Christians, who are more than happy to defend Israel against Islamists and other regional fanatics, the Netanyahu government insists on placing the state’s future in the hands of pan-Arabs whose grip on power is slipping and who would never willingly coexist with Israel anyway.

Nadaf and his followers respond to the allegation – uttered by MKs like Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas, among others – that they are traitors to the Palestinian Arab nation, with contempt.

“When someone tells me, ‘We’re all Arabs,’ I tell him, ‘No, we’re not all Arabs. You’re an Arab. I’m not,’” Halul told Channel 1.
Samer Jozin, whose daughter Jennifer opted for IDF service instead of medical school, agrees.
“Telling me I’m a Palestinian is a curse. I’m, thank God, an Israeli Christian and proud of it. And I thank God I was born in the Land of Israel,” he said.
The message couldn’t be clearer. We are basing our national strategy on a world that no longer exists.
Today our longtime allies the Kurds have carved out virtually independent states for themselves in Iraq and Syria.
Christians throughout the region are on the run. The Druse of Syria and Lebanon are exposed, without protection, and looking for help.
As for the Muslims, as Haivry notes, they are fragmented along sectarian and political lines, and at war with one another in battlefields throughout the region. While so engaged, they have little time to devote to blaming Israel for their failures.

This state of affairs has implications for Israel’s Arab Muslim minority. None of the regional warring Muslim camps are natural homes for Israel’s Muslim community. A community that has lived in an open, free society for 65 years does not naturally turn to Salafism. Israel is a much easier fit for most Israeli Muslims.
At a minimum, no one is better off if Israel forces them to cast their lot with any of the warring factions in Syria or Lebanon, or the increasingly irrelevant forces in the Palestinian Authority. There may very well be hundreds of Muslim versions of Father Nadaf just waiting for a signal from our government that we want them to lead their community into our society.

The post-pan-Arab Middle East exposes the truth that has been obscured for a century. The Jews and their Jewish state are a natural component of our diverse neighborhood, just like the Kurds, the Christians, the Druse, the various Muslim sects, and the Arabs. The demise of pan-Arabism is our great opportunity, at home and regionally, to build the alliances we need to survive and prosper. But so long as our leaders insist on clinging to the now irrelevant dream of appeasing the defunct pan-Arabists, we will lose these opportunities and convince our allies that we are treacherous, disloyal and temporary.

The Islamization of France in 2013

Standard

Reinventing wheels

Standard

Automobiles today are more computer than internal combustion, and General Motors sees Israeli developers as key to making its vehicles brainier

A GM EN-V 'Smart car' (Photo credit: Courtesy)

A GM EN-V ‘Smart car’ (Photo credit: Courtesy)

The flying cars promised by science fiction aren’t quite ready yet, but automakers like General Motors have a pretty acceptable consolation prize — a smart, self-driving, self-parking car that, equipped with a wealth of sensors and communications equipment, aims to make auto accidents a thing of the past.

Get the Start-Up Israel’s daily newsletter
and never miss our top stories
   FREE SIGN UP!

For GM, much of the technology needed for the vehicle of the future is being developed at its Israel research and development facility.

“The technologies that will power autonomous vehicles including smart sensing, vision imaging, human machine interface, wifi and 4G/LTE communications, and much of that is being done at our Herzliya facility, in conjunction with GM’s other R&D facility in Silicon Valley,” said Gil Golan, director of GM’s Advanced Technical Center in Israel. “The industry is being driven by customer preference and demand, and in order to keep up, we need to develop these technologies and ensure we are meeting customer demand. To stay on top of the market you have to be versatile, and the Israel ATC helps the company to do that.”

The GM that emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 to profitability in 2011, 2012, and (so far) 2013 — after its huge 2011 IPO, one of the five biggest in history — is a good lesson in how a company can be versatile. The company dropped some brands (Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, and others), brought back others (Corvette, Silverado and Impala) that had good sales histories, reduced its workforce, and aggressively diversified into growth markets like China. The result is a smaller, leaner company that has seen sales grow, especially in the past year.

One of the assets the new GM held onto was the Israel ATC, which has been in business since 1995.

“We started working in Israel nearly 20 years ago with some limited projects, but we ramped up activities here in 2007, and have been going strong ever since,” Golan told The Times of Israel. “Israel is a very important location for GM.”

Golan was speaking before a GM-sponsored event at the recent DLD (Digital Life Design) festival in Tel Aviv called “Drive the Future,” which highlighted the company’s vision of the smart cars of the future.

According to Golan, connectivity will be key for the cars of the future (by “future,” he means in the next five or so model years).

“Cars today are very sophisticated, much more than they used to be,” Golan said. “Modern cars have as many as 100 systems, all of them controlled by computers or processors.” That includes the engine, braking system, cooling system, steering and suspension, transmission, and many others.

Examples of how the systems will work could include having a self-driving car automatically stop at red lights, or stay within the speed limit. Sensors could alert drivers on when their tire is going to hit the curb when they are parallel parking. A video camera could detect when a vehicle gets too close to the one in front and automatically reduce speed to ensure a safe gap. In-dash apps could let drivers communicate with others on the road, getting information about traffic, accidents, services, and other useful information.

Much of the technology to do this already exists, said Golan, having been developed in the past for smartphones. In fact, he said, the smartphone is the model for the car of the future.

“People want smartphone-like experiences in their vehicles,” Golan said. “We have studied this in depth, and what customers are asking for are ‘super-smartphones on wheels.’”

The ATC is working not just on ways to make cars smarter, but ways to make drivers and passengers happier. One project it worked on with students from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design was the development of apps to help backseat passengers, particularly children, be less bored while on the road.

The result was several apps to help kids while away the time, including Otto, an animated character projected over passing scenery that responds to real-time car performance, weather and landscape, to help kids learn about the environment; and Foofu, an app that allows passengers to create, explore and discover through finger drawing on window steam.

The project, called Windows of Opportunity (WOO) is “invaluable,” said Omer Tsimhoni, lab group manager for the ATC’s human-machine interface, because “it is just one of many projects underway at GM that could reinvent the passenger experience in years to come.”

 

Read more: Reinventing wheels | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/reinventing-wheels/#ixzz2pkIoDfQC
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter |timesofisrael on Facebook