The Origin Of Almost Every Jewish Last Name

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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

 

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The Islamization of France in 2013

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A Post on the New York Post and the Post Stark Murder Fiasco

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One of my Jewish brothers was murdered over the weekend. This makes me very sad. One of my Jewish sisters is now a widow. Seven of my Jewish nieces and nephews lost their father. Few things tug more at the heartstrings than children who will grow up without a father because his life was knowingly taken by human murderers. From a personal angle, the murder of Menachem Stark is a tragedy. It hurts so much.

By all accounts, Stark was a member in good standing in his Chasidic community. He gave charity generously. He helped those in need. He was well regarded in his social circles. This is the side of the man that was known in the insular Chasidic community.

There may have been another side to this man. Stark was a high roller. He was involved in huge business deals and multi-million dollar investments. The world of the wheeling and dealing real estate mogul is a far cry from the quiet streets of Williamsburg. Many Chasidic men live with one foot in each of these two very different worlds.

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Photo: VINNEWS

It seems that over the weekend he succumbed to the outside world. Someone wanted him dead. Someone from the part of his life that was a mired in litigation, massive loans, a less than sterling reputation as a landlord, and a world with associates who would not feel at home in Stark’s shteible or Shabbos table chose to kill him. Stark met his Maker in the wake of unspeakable violence. To snuff out the life of a human being is the most heinous of crimes. There is no restitution. There is no forgiveness. It’s a crime that is deserving of the stiffest punishments available. In my view, murder is never justified. No matter the circumstances.

Almost all the discussion about this man and his death are about a headline in a tabloid newspaper. The Sunday New York Post ran an article that enumerated many of the allegations and rumors regarding Stark’s business dealings. The article was sordid and hardly journalism but the point of the article was that because Stark had so many potential enemies there were a lot of potential suspects in the murder investigation. It’s an immature angle to the story, but that was their angle. The front page was a photo of Stark in his Chasidic garb with the following headline: “Who Didn’t Want Him Dead?”

It’s hard to imagine a more provocative, attention grabbing, sensationalist headline. Especially because the true king of sensationalist headlines is the New York Post. They do it all the time. It’s also ironic because so many frum Jews in the more insular communities of New York have always thought of the Post as a friend of Israel and the Jews. They share the paper’s conservative bent and thus always thought the Post was something of value. Most serious people have known that the Post is trash for a long time. To them, the headline was gross, but it wasn’t a betrayal. The headline was obscene, but it was completely in character. (Just a few weeks ago, the Post editorial team ran a despicable article saying that New York City was too generous in its meager assistance of the homeless family of Dasani whose story was heartbreakingly portrayed in a superb in-depth article in the New York Times. That’s typical. Disgusting, but typical.)

In response to the terrible headline in the Post, many politicians have called for boycotts of the Post. Other spokespeople have condemned the Post. I join in those condemning the headline and I think the Post doesn’t belong in the home of a God Fearing Jew. It’s trash. We take the trash out. We don’t bring it in. Page Six is enough of a reason for the Post to be assur. Many people have politely called the Post to express their outrage. I admire them for their advocacy.

It seems to me that the headline is terrible because it makes a murder victim into an object of character assassination. It does not wonder who would commit such a heinous crime. It wonders what kind of person becomes an enemy to so many others. That’s an awful angle to take on a murder story. Although, I don’t doubt the Post has taken this approach to other murders. I just wouldn’t know because I don’t read the Post.

Some Chasidic bloggers have penned responses to the Post headline. I think they have a right to be outraged. But I do think some of the outrage is misguided and counter productive. I know that we are in pain, but we still must be responsible and accurate.

First, the headline says “Who Didn’t Want Him Dead?”. The headline was written by an editor. It was not written by any of the journalists assigned the story. Threats have been made to a journalist. I heard this from someone who knows the journalist personally. Photoshopped images of the journalist captioned “Who Wouldn’t Want Him Dead” have been produced. If you are mad about the headline, please direct your anger to the appropriate party. Do not threaten

Second, please learn English. The headline does not imply that his death was justified in any way. Nor does it give license to kill all slumlords. Please. The headline means that there are a lot of potential suspects because of his many colorful business associates and dealings. No sense in generating anger because of a misreading of the headline.

Third, he wasn’t just a philanthropist. It’s appropriate to eulogize our loved ones and community members by remembering them fondly. Even (and I am not making a moral equivalency here) mob bosses are remembered fondly at their funerals. But we cannot confuse the glowing positive memories with the harsh realities of the real world. We’ve all done things that we wouldn’t want announced at our funeral. But just because they are not cried over at our funeral does not meant that they are not true.

Fourth, let’s try to be consistent. If we hate sensationalist journalism, let’s not do it ourselves. Let’s not support the Post. Let’s try to be balanced and measured in our writing. Combating hyperbole and shoddy journalism with histrionics and wild accusations helps no one.

Fifth, let’s shelve the anti-Semitism card on this one. There is nothing different or unique about this disgraceful Post headline than any others. It has nothing to do with him being a Jew. It has nothing to do with him being a Chasid. It has everything to do with the fact that this is a really interesting story. Crying anti-Semitism when there is none is the easiest way to helping create real anti-Semitism.

Sixth, enough with the Hashem Yinkom Damav please. If the first reaction to death and murder is to take revenge, I think we have to consider whether we have a serious character issue.

So let’s join together and tell the Post how disgusted we are with this story and headline. Let’s also tell them that we don’t like their other nasty headlines either. Let’s be honest and truthful about what we do and do not know. Let’s not cry anti-Semitism.

Most of all, let’s try to compensate for any chillul Hashem that is occurring by increasing our efforts to be mekadesh Hashem. Let’s remember that the first question we will be asked when we reach the Heavenly Court is whether we dealt honestly in business. Let’s make sure that we pass that test. Let’s see if we can generate the same kind of outrage that we have about this headline for things that actually affect our communities. Headlines are harmless. Abuse and corruption are crimes with real victims.

Finally, I can only assume that the Stark family is going to be enduring a very difficult emotional and financial period. I am sure that their community will take good care of them as they always do. Perhaps some solidarity from us outsiders to their community would be a fine gesture in this difficult time. If only as a token of unity, I think it would be an appropriate thing to do. Families of murder victims deserve our help and camaraderie. Let’s give it to them.

– See more at: http://finkorswim.com/2014/01/06/a-post-on-the-new-york-post-and-the-post-stark-murder-fiasco/#sthash.Hmz2djIT.dpuf

JEWISH MAFIA “But He Was Good To His Mother”

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Members of the SA in front of a Jewish shop du...

Members of the SA in front of a Jewish shop during the boycot of Jews in nazi-Germany on april 1, 1933. The sign says: “Germans, Attention! This shop is owned by Jews. Jews damage the German economy and pay their German employees starvation wages. The main owner is the Jew Nathan Schmidt.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: World War I enlistment poster from Ca...

English: World War I enlistment poster from Canada. Poster shows a soldier cutting the bonds from a Jewish man, who strains to join a group of soldiers running in the distance and says, “You have cut my bonds and set me free – now let me help you set others free!” Above are portraits of Rt. Hon. Herbert Samuel, Viscount Reading, and Rt. Hon. Edwin S. Montagu, all Jewish members of the British parliament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the ea...

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the early 1900s, Russian Jews, packs in hand, gaze at the American relatives beckoning them to the United States. Over two million Jews fled the pogroms of the Russian Empire to the safety of the U.S. from 1881-1924. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Center for Jewish History is located on 15...

The Center for Jewish History is located on 15 West 16th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, in New York, NY 10011. It is home of five preeminent Jewish institutions dedicated to history, culture, and art: The American Jewish Historical Society, The American Sephardi Federation, The Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Bird's eye panorama of Manhattan & Ne...

English: Bird’s eye panorama of Manhattan & New York City in 1873 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A jew.

English: A jew. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1941 Nazi propaganda poster in the Lithuanian ...

1941 Nazi propaganda poster in the Lithuanian language, equating Stalinism with the Jews. The text reads “The Jew is our enemy forever”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meyer Lansky being led by detective for bookin...

Meyer Lansky being led by detective for booking on vagrancy charge at 54th Street police station, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The wanted poster issued for Pelley in 1939.

The wanted poster issued for Pelley in 1939. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The St. Paul Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway (1880)

The St. Paul Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway (1880) (Photo credit: Manitoba Historical Maps)

English: Mugshot of Jewish-American mobster Be...

English: Mugshot of Jewish-American mobster Benjamin “Bigsy” Siegel in the 1920s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JEWISH MAFIA

“But He Was Good To His Mother”

A short and very interesting little article about why Jewish gangsters fascinate him and how Jewish gangsters differed from their Italian counterparts. In a nutshell, Jewish mobsters were a product of their times (1920s and 1930s) and did not continue their legacy after that one period, while Italian gangsters handed their “profession” to each succeeding generation.

What follows is a side of Jewish history you may have missed.

There are few excuses for the behavior of Jewish gangsters in the 1920s and 1930s. The best known Jewish gangsters – Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Longy Zwillman, Moe Dalitz, David Berman were involved in the numbers rackets, illegal drugdealing, prostitution, gambling and loan sharking. They were not nice men.

During the rise of American Nazism in the 1930s and when Israel was being founded between 1945 and 1948, however, they proved staunch defenders of the Jewish people.

The roots of Jewish gangsterism lay in the ethnic neighborhoods of the Lower East Side; Brownsville, Brooklyn; Maxwell Street in Chicago; and Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. Like other newly arrived groups in American history, a few Jews who considered themselves blocked from respectable professions used crime as a means to “make good” economically. The market for vice flourished during Prohibition and Jews joined with others to exploit the artificial market created by the legal bans on alcohol, gambling, paid sex and narcotics.

Few of these men were religiously observant. They rarely attended services, although they did support congregations financially. They did not keep kosher or send their children to day schools. However, at crucial moments they protected other Jews, in America and around the world.

The 1930s were a period of rampant anti-Semitism in America , particularly in the Midwest . Father Charles Coughlin, the Radio Priest in Detroit , and William Pelley of Minneapolis , among others, openly called for Jews to be driven from positions of responsibility, if not from the country itself.

Organized Brown Shirts in New York and Silver Shirts in Minneapolis outraged and terrorized American Jewry. While the older and more respectable Jewish organizations pondered a response that would not alienate non-Jewish supporters, others–including a few rabbis–asked the gangsters to break up American Nazi rallies.

Historian Robert Rockaway writing in the journal of the American Jewish Historical Society, notes that German-American Bund rallies in the New York City area posed a dilemma for mainstream Jewish leaders. They wanted the rallies stopped, but had no legal grounds on which to do so. New York State Judge Nathan Perlman personally contacted Meyer Lansky to ask him to disrupt the Bund rallies, with the proviso that Lansky’s henchmen stop short of killing any Bundists.

Enthusiastic for the assignment, if disappointed by the restraints, Lansky accepted all of Perlman’s terms except one: he would take no money for the work. Lansky later observed, “I was a Jew and felt for those Jews in Europe who were suffering. They were my brothers.”

For months, Lansky’s workmen effectively broke up one Nazi rally after another. As Rockaway notes, “Nazi arms, legs and ribs were broken and skulls were cracked, but no one died.”

Lansky recalled breaking up a Brown Shirt rally in the Yorkville section of Manhattan : “The stage was decorated with a swastika and a picture of Hitler. The speakers started ranting. There were only fifteen of us, but we went into action. We threw some of them out the windows…. Most of the Nazis panicked and ran out. We chased them and beat them up…. We wanted to show them that Jews would not always sit back and accept insults.”

In Minneapolis , William Dudley Pelley organized a Silver Shirt Legion to “rescue” America from an imaginary Jewish-Communist conspiracy. In Pelle’s own words, just as “Mussolini and his Black Shirts saved Italy and as Hitler and his Brown Shirts saved Germany ,” he would save America from Jewish communists. Minneapolis gambling czar David Berman confronted Pelley’s Silver Shirts on behalf of the Minneapolis Jewish community.

Berman learned that Silver Shirts were mounting a rally at Lodge. When the Nazi leader called for all the “Jew bastards” in the city to be expelled, or worse, Berman and his associates burst into the room and started cracking heads. After ten minutes, they had emptied the hall. His suit covered in blood, Berman took the microphone and announced, “This is a warning. Anybody who says anything against Jews gets the same treatment. Only next time it will be worse.” After Berman broke up two more rallies, there were no more public Silver Shirt meetings in Minneapolis .

Jewish gangsters also helped establish Israel after the war. One famous example is a meeting between Bugsy Siegel and Reuven Dafne, a Haganah emissary, in 1945. Dafne was seeking funds and guns to help liberate Palestine from British rule. A mutual friend arranged for the two men to meet.

“You mean to tell me Jews are fighting?” Siegel asked, “You mean fighting as in killing?” Dafne answered in the affirmative. Siegel replied, “I’m with you.”

For weeks, Dafne received suitcases filled with $5 and $10 bills – $50,000 in all – from Siegel.

No one should paint gangsters as heroes. They committed acts of great evil. But historian Rockaway has presented a textured version of Jewish gangster history in a book ironically titled But He Was Good to His Mother.

Some have observed that, despite their disreputable behavior, they could be good to their people, too. A little interesting bit of Jewish history.

Top 10 non-Jews positively influencing the future of Zion and Jews

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English: Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Murdoch at t...

English: Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Murdoch at the Vanity Fair party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Region administered by the Palestinia...

English: Region administered by the Palestinian National Authority (under Oslo 2), shown in the context of Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean sea in the background, in Rishon LeZion. עברית: דגל ישראל בראשון לציון (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image representing Rupert Murdoch as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

Top 10 non-Jews positively influencing the Jewish future in 2013

Since publishing my first annual list of non-Jews who have wielded significant positive influence over the Jewish future, it seems that the popularity of the practice of list-making has ballooned. It is my sincere hope, however, that this list merits special attention, both in the Jewish world and beyond, as the individuals who are featured herein are truly worthy of recognition.

A great deal has changed over the last year, and a number of previously unheard of personalities have emerged as great friends of the Jewish people, while others have become less active. For this reason, I am committed to compiling and developing this list as a regular endeavor, and as such I present the 4th annual lineup.
My candidates have been selected from around the world and include representatives of a number of different ethnic groups. The list includes political, religious, and business leaders among others, all of whom have had a significant, constructive impact on Israel and/or the global Jewish community.
Although by no means an exact science, my aim in this compilation is to provide some insight into the playing field of this unique group.
Additionally, I aim to bring recognition to their often courageous, sometimes unacknowledged, activities on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

10. Father Gabriel Naddaf
Hailing from the village of Yaffia, situated between Migdal Ha’emek and Nazareth, Naddaf is an Eastern Orthodox priest who has become a leader in the drive for Christian enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces.
Naddaf has undertaken this effort at great personal risk and has been subject to threats. Nevertheless, the movement has seen success, as Christian enlistment in the IDF tripled in 2013.

Describing him as “The Good Father” in a recent profile piece, the Jerusalem Post said that “Father Gabriel Naddaf has reached the conclusion that Christian Arabs residing in Israel must link their fortunes to the Jewish state.”
“Our goal is to guard the Holy Land and the State of Israel. We have broken the barrier of fear – the state deserves that we do our part in defending it,” he said, in a meeting earlier this year with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who recognized his efforts.

9. John Chambers
Cisco CEO Chambers has jumped headfirst into the Israeli market. A regular visitor to the country, Israel became a strategic powerhouse for his company when it acquired NDS for $5 billion last year. Six months after promising “You’ll see us expand here soon,” Cisco acquired Israeli company Intucell for $475 million. Ahead of a recent visit, he said, “Israel is a global leader in innovation, and Cisco is proud of its longstanding commitment to the country.”
Chambers has even tried his hand at peace-making, and was featured in a July Forbes magazine cover story entitled “Peace Through Profits” advocating enhanced business co-operation between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

Strong statements of belief in Israel’s economic prowess from a global CEO like Chambers are vital for securing Israel’s continued fiscal resilience.

8. Li Ka-shing
Thought to be the richest person in Asia, Li has an estimated net worth of $28.8 billion. Last month his foundation announced a $130 million donation to Israel’s Technion University to build an academy as a joint venture with China’s Shantou University.
Technion President Peretz Lavie described the partnership as “a major breakthrough and an opportunity to strengthen ties between Israel and China.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, the grant includes profits from the foundation’s 2011 investment in Israeli mobile app Waze.

7. Petr Neãas.
A week after the United Nations voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status last year, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to the Czech Republic to thank Neãas, its Prime Minister at the time, for being the only country in Europe to vote against the move.

“Thank you for your country’s opposition to the one-sided resolution at the United Nations; thank you for your friendship; thank you for your courage,” Netanyahu told Neãas.
Israel has “no better friends in Europe than the Czech Republic,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the country in 2012.

“We strictly refuse delegitimization and any boycott of the state of Israel. We unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend against terrorist attacks,” Necas said at the time.
Neãas is the most recent in a long line of Czech leaders committed to the Jewish state.

6. Manmohan Singh
Trade and diplomatic relations between Israel and India have been on the fast track since the start of Singh’s premiership, and the two countries “are emerging as a mature, dependable, and accommodating couple,” according to a Middle East Forum paper. In a recent visit to India to discuss a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said that the bilateral trade (between India and Israel) “could easily be doubled in the next five years.”
Currently, Israel is India’s second largest supplier of military equipment, and India is the second-largest Asian economic partner of Israel. Trade between the two countries now stands at $5 billion, excluding defense contracts.

5. Angela Merkel
Recently re-elected with a powerful majority as Germany’s Chancellor, Merkel has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and has been vigilant in ensuring the security of Germany’s Jewish community. Merkel offered strong support for circumcision shortly after a local district court ban on the practice. “I do not want Germany to be the only country in the world where Jews cannot practice their rituals. Otherwise we will become a laughing stock,” she was quoted as saying.
In August, Merkel became the first German leader to visit the Dachau concentration camp. In her weekly podcast at the time, Merkel warned that Europeans must remain vigilant against Holocaust deniers and right-wing extremists. “We must never allow such ideas to have a place in our democratic Europe,” she said, adding that her trip to Dachau would be with “feelings of shame and dismay”.
Earlier this year, Germany delivered its fifth Dolphin-class nuclear capable submarine to Israel, showing its commitment to the Jewish state’s security needs.

4. Rupert Murdoch
The titles owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation have, for the most part, covered stories relating to Jews and Israel in a balanced and fair manner, and Murdoch himself has described himself as an ardent philo-Semite. Murdoch has been recognized by a number of major Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage .
“To my mind, that is the grand promise of Zionism: that Israel exists so that Jews can protect themselves,” he said last year, concluding, “I believe that it is no longer just Israel’s survival at stake but our own.”

3. Stephen Harper

As Prime Minister of Canada, Harper ensured that his country, along with the Czech Republic, would be among the few that opposed the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral UN move last year.

At a recent meeting in New York, Harper said that “There is nothing more short sighted in Western capitals in our time than the softening support for Israel,” according to a Wall Street Journal report. Israel, he said, “Is the one strong stable democratic western ally that we have in” the Middle East.
Recent reports revealed that the Canadian arm of the Jewish National Fund is raising funds to build a bird center in Israel named for the leader. “Under the direction of Prime Minister Harper, Canada is now a leader in the international fight against anti-Semitism and raising awareness of the heinous crimes of the Holocaust,” the organization wrote.

2. Pope Francis I
Just seven months into the job, the new Pope has shown a warmth towards Jews and Judaism that is unparalleled.

“It’s a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic: His roots are Jewish,” the Pontiff told an audience of Jewish leaders last week. Last month, in an open letter appearing in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica he praised the Jewish people for having “kept their faith in God” despite centuries of persecution.
Francis I has already scheduled a trip to Israel, and hosted his close friend, Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, at his residence over Sukkot. “He cares for me, and controls everything regarding my food to make sure it is all kosher, and according to my religious tradition, “the rabbi said of his friend the Pope.

1. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
A controversial figure to say the least, since El-Sisi , the commander of Egypt’s army, rose to power, co-operation between the country’s military and Israeli security forces in combating Sinai and Gaza based terror groups has been unprecedented.
“The Egyptian Army has done great things in the past two months, more than they had done in the past two decades,” an Israeli official told The Algemeiner last week, and a recent Wall Street Journal report detailed the extent of that co-operation.

According to reports, the Egyptian military has shut down up to 90% of smuggling tunnels running from the Sinai into the Hamas controlled Gaza strip, effectively cutting off a crucial supply route for weapons used by the terror group against Israel.
While under the leadership of his predecessor, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, the cornerstone peace treaty between
Israel and Egypt appeared to be under constant question, for now, El-Sisi’s rule has brought back Israeli confidence in its relationship with its southern neighbor.

  • Kim-Jonty Stephen Drus

WHO IS A JEWISH HERO?

Aside
Paper Heroes Location 2

Paper Heroes Location 2 (Photo credit: roadkillbuddha)

The Center for Jewish History is located on 15...

The Center for Jewish History is located on 15 West 16th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, in New York, NY 10011. It is home of five preeminent Jewish institutions dedicated to history, culture, and art: The American Jewish Historical Society, The American Sephardi Federation, The Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sample Wikipedia template for Jewish Hhistory

Sample Wikipedia template for Jewish Hhistory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Rows of bodies fill the yard of Lager...

English: Rows of bodies fill the yard of Lager Nordhausen, a Gestapo concentration camp. עברית: שורות של גופות מאות אסירים בחצר מחצה הריכוז נורדהאוזן. בתמונה נראות פחות ממחצית הגופות של האסירים שמתו ברעב או ביריות אנשי הגסטפו. Italiano: File di cadaveri di prigionieri riempiono il cortile del lager di Nordhausen, un campo di concentramento dalla Gestapo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moroccan Jewish women. From the 1901-1906 Jewi...

Moroccan Jewish women. From the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, now in the public domain. Category:Jewish Encyclopedia images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Metal menorah

Metal menorah (Photo credit: Skyco)

English: Museum of jewish history and culture ...

English: Museum of jewish history and culture in Belarus Русский: Музей истории и культуры евреев Беларуси (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

American Jewish History

American Jewish History (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHO IS A JEWISH HERO?

This album was created from names suggested by our page fans after they were asked to send names of historical Jewish persons who showed outstanding heroism or leadership in exceptional conditions, sacrificing or endangering his/her life or freedom for the sake of the Jewish People and whose actions have left significant impact in Jewish history. The vote by the page followers on the 2013 Eight Lights of Heroism will be held on November 24, before the Chanukkah Festival,
 Mariedith O’Connor About Golda Meir

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The Stranger Beside John Kerry: Palestinian Rejectionism

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October battles

October battles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

en: Israel after the Arab-Israeli War in 1948-...

en: Israel after the Arab-Israeli War in 1948-1949 pl: Konsekwencje Pierwszej wojny izraelsko-arabskiej 1948-1949. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Ami...

English: The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husayni meeting with future Egyptian president Abdel Nasser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zionist mortar team outside Zafzaf

Zionist mortar team outside Zafzaf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Stranger Beside John Kerry: Palestinian Rejectionism

It is now official: settlements in the West Bank are the obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. So sayeth the Obama Administration.

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Ever eluding the view of the Obama Administration, and its lately irritable and harassed Secretary of State, however, is a noisy little distraction that has made the Middle East the battle ground that it is for the last 90 years or so: Arab rejectionism of Israel.

This rejection has a long, and ferocious pedigree. These sentiments, indeed, long predated the first Arab-Israeli War of 1948. In 1937, when the British Peel Commissionrecommended that Palestine be partitioned into a state where the Jews would get some 15-20% of Palestine and the Arabs would get the rest, Haj Amin al Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, violently rejected the proposal out of hand, and without discussion. Like Hamas leaders today, he would not agree to the creation of any Jewish sovereign entity, no matter how microscopically small. Not only that, but all of Holy Palestine must be Arab and Muslim, and that was that.

What to do about the 400,000 Jews then living in Palestine in 1937? They would have to go, the Mufti said. Like Arafat later on, he was quite explicit and graphic about the means by which they would “have to go” before Arab audiences, but before Westerners he was always more evasive and equivocal. Benny Morris, in his most recent history of the 1948 War, cites some of his testimony before the Peel Commission in 1937:

Question: “Does his eminence think that this country can assimilate and digest the 400,000 Jews now in the country?”

Al Husseini: “No.”

Question: “Some of them would have to be removed by a process kindly or painful as the case may be?”

Al Husseini: “We must leave all this to the future.”

To which the commissioners responded: “We are not questioning the Mufti’s intentions…but we cannot forget what recently happened, despite treaty provisions and explicit assurances, to the Assyrian [Christian] minority in Iraq; nor can we forget that the hatred of the Arab politician for the [Jewish] National Home has never been concealed and that it has now permeated the Arab population as a whole.”

The process by which the Mufti, a staunch, dear friend and ally of Hitler, would remove the Jews, would not be “kindly” to say the least. To call the Mufti and other like-minded extremists of the time proponents of ethnic cleansing, would thus hardly be a slander. Their words and their actions convict them without question or ambiguity.

On March 10, 1948, the Mufti promised the Jaffa daily Al Sarih that the Arabs would not only reject the UN partition but “would continue fighting until the Zionists were annihilated and the whole of Palestine became a purely Arab state” and later added that the Arabs should “murder the Jews. Murder them all.”  He had been saying the same thing repeatedly for more than two decades, and his were not idle words.

***

Following the 1949 armistice agreements that ended the First Arab-Israeli War, and Israel’s admission to the UN, the Israelis, consistent with their obligations in gaining UN membership and Resolution 194, offered to resettle some 100,000 or so Palestinian  refugees in Israel at theLausanne Conference; the Arabs rejected the offer without discussion. The Arabs, as with all previous discussions, refused direct dealings with the Israelis, and demanded acceptance of the refugees’ repatriation in full as a precondition to further talks. The Israelis insisted on discussions of the refugee problem in the context of a full regional peace; the Arabs refused, and the discussions broke down.

The state of Israel in its post-armistice configuration resulted from the war and the Israelis had made clear that they were not going to negate the results of the war in which they had just sacrificed 1% of their population and return to the vulnerable partition lines of 1947 which a) the Arabs had rejected anyway, and b) while the Arabs continued a state of hostilities and a policy of non-recognition.

The full return of the refugees to Israel in 1949 with the surrounding states still in the midst of a state of hostilities would have put some 750,000 (or more) Palestinians along with some 160,000 remaining Palestinians alongside some 650,000 Jews, thus making the Jews a (41%) minority in their own state. This would seem to have blunted the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, and negated the entire reason for the creation of the Jewish state in the first place.

The Arabs, in effect, were demanding that prior to any negotiations, the Israelis must take into their state over three quarter of a million refugees, created by the war of aggression waged by them, thus making the Jews a 41% minority in their own state. Then they would negotiate, and without any assurance that even this would impel them to make peace with Israel. The Israelis, in effect, would thus flood their war-ravaged state with hostile Arab refugees in order to obtain a seat at the table with the Arabs, and then hope for the best in the negotiations to follow. Really incredible.

Jewish self-determination did not need to come at the price of the Palestinians’ exodus. The Palestinians, who also had a right to self determination that the Jews never denied, certainly would have had it if they and the surrounding Arab states had accepted the partition. Rejecting the partition and opting for war had consequences.

After the Arabs opted for war, the refugee problem caused by the war was probably never realistically going to be settled inside Israel except on a limited basis. The notion that the Israelis would have negated the results of the war of annihilation waged on them and rendered themselves a minority by those who had just attempted their annihilation was always absurd. Most of all, since when do the losers of a war dictate terms to the victors?

UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948 is today regarded by the Palestinians and other Arab nations as the international legal authority upon which to implement the Palestinian “right of return.” Here is the relevant paragraph:

“Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible”

The resolution is in the form of a recommendation and is hortatory. This, in fact, was one of the reasons that the Arabs rejected the resolution. The other reason was that the UN General Assembly rejected the late Count Folke Bernadotte’s original draft of the resolution:

“the right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible date… and their repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation, and payment of adequate compensation for the property of those choosing not to return…”

The resolution in its final form makes no mention of a “right of return” or of “Arab” refugees. It merely recommends that all refugees “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”

The Conciliation Commission for Palestine established by the UN was charged with the task to “take steps to assist the Governments and authorities concerned to achieve a final settlement of all questions outstanding between them,” meaning resolving the refugee issue (which was but one paragraph in Resolution 194) within the larger task of the establishing of a full regional peace among the former belligerents. It does not anywhere state that Israel is in any way obligated to allow an unlimited repatriation of Palestinian refugees independently of all the other provisions and recommendations, while the Arabs/Palestinians continue a state of hostilities and defy the provisions calling for them to live “at peace with [their] neighbors” i.e., Israel, and it most certainly never envisaged those refugees not repatriated to remain unsettled and stateless in their host countries.

Paragraph 4 of UNGA Resolution 393 of December 2, 1950, in fact, states clearly and unequivocally (and without prejudice) that

“the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement, is essential in preparation for the time when international assistance is no longer available, and for the realization of conditions of peace and stability in the area.”

Article 5 of the same Resolution instructed UNRWA “to establish a reintegration fund which shall be utilized for projects requested by any government in the Near East … for the permanent re-establishment of refugees and their removal from relief.”

But the Arab refugees were not reintegrated in their host countries; unlike the Jewish refugees forced to flee from Arab and Muslim countries, who were assimilated into Israel and their other places of refuge, the Arabs were left to rot in squalid refugee camps as title deeds to an Arab reconquest of Palestine, yet to occur.

In 1967, when the Israelis came into possession of the occupied territories, they offered to withdraw from them in return for a full peace. Nasser answered the Israelis in August of 1967 with his famous “three no’s”: “no recognition, no negotiations, and no peace.” So that was that. The Israelis thus found themselves in possession of the territories for an unforeseen length of time. How did they manage them?

The Israeli administration of the territories would soon see thePalestinians’ quality of life and standard of living literally skyrocket in the years to come. In June of 1967 the living conditions in the territories were deplorable: low life expectancy, malnutrition, infectious diseases, high child mortality, low education, high illiteracy, and rife unemployment (83%). Access to the Israeli economy would soon account for a 40% upswing in Palestinian employment, and the establishment of some 2000 industrial plants in the territories created even more employers as well as jobs and higher productivity.

Indeed, by the mid 1970′s the Palestinians had the fourth fastest growing economy in the world, surpassing Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea; the GNP jumped from $165 per capita in 1968, to $1,715 in 1991, surpassing Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. Life expectancy rose from 48 in 1967, to 72 years in 2000. Thanks to Israeli medical and inoculation programs, infant mortality fell from 60 per 1000 in 1967 to 15 per 1000 in 2000, and childhood diseases like polio, whooping cough, tetanus, and measles were eliminated completely.

By 1986 93% of Palestinian homes had gas and electricity around the clock compared to 20% in 1967; 85% had running water compared to 16% in 1967, and refrigerators, televisions, and cars rapidly multiplied across the once barren territories. The number of schoolchildren grew by 102% and the number of classes grew by 99%. Seven universities sprouted up where none had existed before. Illiteracy sank like a stone. Such were the evils of Israeli “oppression.”

In 1979, in the midst of all this “oppression,” the Palestinians were offered autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza that was included in the Egypt-Israeli peace agreements. Many West Bank mayors were enthusiastic about the offer. Yasir Arafat, however, not only rejected the offer, but intimidated all West Bank politicians into silence, denouncedthe peace agreement as “treason,” celebrated Anwar al Sadat’s assassination by the Muslim Brotherhood, and lavishly praised his assassins. Over the next decade, Arafat had several West Bank mayorsmurdered for “collaborating” too closely with Israel by attempting to assist them in redeveloping the Palestinian population centers.

Under the Oslo accords brokered by President Clinton, between 1993 and 2000 the Israelis withdrew from some 98% of the occupied population centers. Arafat, during this time, pocketed numerous Israeli concessions, made none, talked peace to Western audiences, and preached endless jihad on Israel to Arab ones. Arafat’s tenure (or, rather, his dictatorship) in the occupied territories during the Oslo years was adisaster for the Palestinian people. He brought to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel in the 1990′s what he had bought to Jordan in the 1960′s and to Lebanon in the 1970′s and 80′s: a pestilence of corruption, oppression, and mass murder, as well as something hitherto unknown in Israel: the first suicide bombers.

All of this was largely ignored by the UN, as well as by Western journalists, diplomats, and policy makers. They were focused on “peace.” In 2000 Israel twice offered the return of the Golan Heights to Syria in return for a full peace; it was refused. In May of 2000 Israel unilaterally withdrew from southern Lebanon. In the next several months Arafat would be offered over 97% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, East Jerusalem as a capital, breathtaking concessions on the sovereignty of the Temple Mount, and the removal of all Jewish settlements from territory ceded to the new Palestinian state (i.e., 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza). Arafat rejected all offers put to him, made not a single counter-offer, and launched a terror war that would kill thousands of Israeli and Palestinian innocents.

In 2005 the Israelis unilaterally withdrew from Gaza; the result was the creation of a Hamas-ruled terror regime that has launched thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and committed scores of brutal atrocities against their own, to the utter indifference of the UN, and left-leaning “peace” activists. In 2008 Mahmoud Abbas was offered virtually the entire West Bank in return for a full peace with Israel; he rejected it without discussion or counter-offer, just as his predecessors had been doing for the last 60 years.

***

It is hard to avoid the notion that John Kerry, for all his vaunted knowledge and experience, is as fundamentally ignorant of this rejectionist history as Obama seems to have been. Or he is willfully ignoring it. Either way, it redounds to his profound discredit.

Candidate Obama, remember, came into the presidency with some starry-eyed assumptions of his own about his ability to tame the furies of the Middle East. Confident of his powers of persuasion, he was sure he had the long awaited answer to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Eager to “restart” the peace process, he willfully ignored the intransigence of the Palestinians and the compromises and concessions made by Israelis in the past decade and, consulting his friends in the pro-Palestinian left-liberal foreign policy establishment, decided to make the freezing of settlements in the West Bank a precondition for further talks.

This shocked and bewildered many. Even the Palestinians had never made this a precondition for further talks, as it was always understood since the 1993 Oslo Accords that they would be dealt with in final status negotiations. The Palestinians, who were as bewildered as anyone by Obama’s demand, nonetheless adopted it as their own, for, as Abbastold Newsweek in 2011, he could hardly afford to do anything less, lest he be seen as less pro-Palestinian than the President of the United States.

Animated by his conviction that the settlements were the obstacle to peace, the President, after a year of diplomatic harassment, finally nagged Israel into a futile 10-month settlement freeze, publicly picked a fight with Netanyahu over the construction of a Jerusalem housing project in March 2010, and then subsequently re-emphasized his displeasure on the matter by receiving the Israeli Prime Minister to the White House later that month with all the warmth and civility accorded to a Prohibition-era saloon keeper dragged to a gangster’s lair, all the while not saying so much as “boo” about Abbas’ refusal to even come to the negotiating table. The President’s peace efforts were, henceforth, indefinitely stalled.

Upon becoming Secretary of State, Kerry lunged wilfully into the peace process jungle, with confident claims of a soon-to-be settlement, this much to the bewilderment of his interlocutors. Having now reaped failure from his efforts, he has found a scapegoat in Israel, who he also now blames for the collapse of the Iran deal, telling members of Congresswith regard to Israel to “ignore what they’re telling you, stop listening to the Israelis on this.” He has also warned of a third Intifada if Israel will not buckle to his “peace” demands. As Jonathan Tobin has written:

“ Having forced both parties into talks that were clearly fated to fail due to the division among Palestinians and their obvious unwillingness to accept statehood on generous terms that they’ve already rejected three times, Kerry can’t own up to the fact that his idea never had a chance and thus prefers to blame Israel for his own errors.”

And,

“As soon he was sworn in, he threw caution to the winds and embarked on a course that a wiser man would have understood was merely a repeat of the mistakes of the past. Better men and more skillful diplomats than Kerry have failed under more propitious circumstances than the current situation, in which Hamas rules Gaza and a weak and fearful Fatah holds onto the West Bank only with the help of Israel. But Kerry’s hubris is such that he appears to be genuinely shocked by the apparent failure of his initiative and is now lashing out wildly and going so far as to threaten Israel with more Palestinian violence if Prime Minister Netanyahu does not bend to his will.”

It is time for the Secretary of State to finally understand that Obama’s tenure as a peace-processor has been a failure because the obstacle to peace is not settlements in the West Bank, as he and National Security Advisor Susan Rice  still insist, but the corruption, violence, and dysfunction of the Palestinian political establishment, and their bitter,long-standing rejection of the legitimacy of Israel as home of the Jewish people. That is the stranger standing beside him, and it’s high time they met.