The FORWARD Reports: Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker resigned in November amid controversy….
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker speaks outside a solidarity service on Monday. (Getty Images)
The Texas rabbi celebrated around the world as a hero for freeing three congregants and himself from a gunman in an 11-hour synagogue siege is set to leave the community in June, the Forward has learned.
Backstory:Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker resigned in November amid debate about whether his contract would be renewed. Rabbi Ben Sternman of Adat Chaverim in Plano, Texas, part of a foursome of area Reform rabbis including Cytron-Walker that meets weekly, said “he showed up for lunch one week and he was looking very upset.” He is on the market for a new pulpit and the synagogue was in the midst of searching for an interim rabbi when Saturday’s hostage situation occurred.
A long tenure: Cytron-Walker has led the synagogue since 2006. Marta Johnson, who had worked in recent years as a High Holiday soloist at the synagogue, said “a lot of people in the congregation are pretty upset” about his impending departure.
Murky reasoning: The rabbi is known for his social-justice advocacy and interfaith bridge building. A man claiming to be a former member of the synagogue said he had left the congregation because Cytron-Walker referred to Israel as an apartheid state* and did not allow guns in the shul, a claim picked up by right-wing media but not otherwise confirmed. “They would not tell us why they want him to resign,” Sandy Barenholtz-Silverman, who attended Beth Israel, said of the synagogue’s leadership.
Mutual decision? Anna Eisen, a co-founder of Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel, said the rabbi and the synagogue president had agreed on the departure. “As a congregation we have been very heartbroken and distraught, she said, adding: “I myself have begged him to stay, but I also realize that he has given us 16 years of his life.”
*Some interesting thoughts:
If Israel is really an apartheid state as it’s detractors often assert, then that must mean that all the Arabs who falsely claim to be and identify as Palestinians are really residents of Israel and the borders of Eretz Yisrael are exactly what the League of Nations decided by the Mandate for Palestine and therefore, one must conclude that they have legitimate claims against Israel.
If Israel is NOT an apartheid state, but rather, as a sovereign state that possesses clear title to all of Eretz Yisrael, including Judea, Shomron/Samaria, Benjamin and the Jordan Valley, etc. and has the right to decide who shall be it’s citizens and residents; then just what status do the Arabs that reside in Eretz Yisrael possess since it is the Apartheid state of Jordan and the Hashemites who refuse to recognize that they and the Arab League have artificially created the myth that there are “Palestinian Refugees” in Jordan and Eretz Yisrael?
Because the Arabs whose origins are the Kingdom of the Hejaz refuse to recognize Jewish sovereignty over all of Eretz Yisrael, will not accept it’s laws, courts or the historical continuous inalienable and unalienable legal title to all of Eretz Yisrael and falsely claim indigenous origins in Eretz Yisrael when they were given political independence in the Mandates for Mesopotamia (Iraq), Syria and Lebanon; as agreed to in the Faisal-Weismann Agreement: then one must conclude that they are foreign “hostile belligerent nationals” of (the Kingdom of the Hejaz) “trans-Jordan” illegally and unlawfully occupying Eretz Yisrael…!
In conclusion, one must assert that the Arabs do have legitimate claims but they should direct them at the Arab League and the Hashemites who refuse to nationalize them by “collective naturalization” and provide them with all the rights they may be entitled to as Citizens of the nations in which they were born!
January 19, 2022 Anti-Bennett protest, Jan. 18, 2022. (Twitter/Screen grab)
Protesters condemned “the loss of Zionist values, legal persecution, and damage to the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.”
By World Israel News Staff
Some 20,000 Israelis took to the streets to demonstrate against the so-called “change government” headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday, with protesters seen at more than 100 intersections and bridges throughout the country.
A prayer rally at the Western Wall was held simultaneously alongside the street protests. Dozens of lawmakers — from the opposition Likud, Shas, and Religious Zionism parties — joined the demonstrators.
The official name of the demonstration was “Israel in danger – we want a Jewish state,” and organizers encouraged participation from those wishing to express their disapproval of “the loss of Zionist values, legal persecution, and damage to the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.”
The protesters came from all sectors of Israeli society and expressed diverse reasons for attending the demonstration, including potential reforms to Israel’s conversion and kosher certification systems, and questioning the legitimacy of Bennett’s premiership, as he had won a mere seven Knesset seats out of 120 in the last election.
Unlike the protests against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in 2020, Tuesday’s demonstration was not widely covered by Hebrew-language media.
In a statement, the protest’s organizers praised demonstrators “for voting with their feet to identify with the struggle.”
“The government forgets that we are a Jewish and democratic state, which our forefathers fought to establish, and we all said in a clear voice that there is no legitimacy to this government,” the statement continued.
“The protest will continue to grow and gain momentum until the evil government falls.”
“I am very happy that there are many people who love the people of Israel, the Land of Israel and the state, demonstrate at intersections and pray at the Western Wall so that we will have a Jewish state,” said Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Shmuel Eliyahu, who also attended the protest.
“It is important that you are partners in this demonstration, it has an effect and influence to change reality.”
January 19, 2022 Policewoman accompanying one of the illegal Arab squatters from the Jerusalem property demolished by court order, January 19, 2022. (Israel Police)
Deputy Mayor Aryeh King congratulated police for enforcing the law by expelling “the invaders who built their house on a municipal property without a permit.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The Israel Police evicted a family of Arab squatters from buildings they had illegally constructed in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood in an overnight operation Wednesday.
Two days after the squatters had threatened to blow themselves up if the authorities tried to carry out the four-year-old court order for evacuation, police cleared the Salhiya family out of their illegal home in Sheikh Jarrah.
In the process, they arrested 18 people, including family members and left-wing activists, on suspicion of violating a court order, violence and disturbing public order.
The municipality then leveled the home, following up on their razing on Monday of a plant nursery and two storage units that were also constructed on the premises without permits.
In 2017, the municipality allocated the city-owned property in question for a special-education school that would serve the Arab-majority neighborhood. The family members were given “countless opportunities to hand over the land with consent, but unfortunately they refused to do so, even after meetings and repeated dialogue attempts,” the municipality and police said in a joint statement.
Despite the fact that various courts repeatedly upheld the city’s right to use the land that was zoned for public use, the EU falsely claimed Monday that this was a case of eviction and demolition that “are illegal under international law.”
Following the eviction, left-wing Meretz MK Mossi Raz also ignored the legal imperative, describing the police as acting like “thieves in the night.”
Deputy Mayor Aryeh King congratulated the police for enforcing the law by expelling “the invaders who built their house on a municipal property without a permit.”
This is “proof,” he said, “that the Israel Police has the ability to act anywhere in the city to enforce sovereignty and law enforcement, even in cases where there is Arab pressure and international pressure to prevent the police action necessary to continue the rule of law.”
Palestinians often claim that they are “forced” to build illegally in Jerusalem because the municipality is stingy with its permits for Arab residents. Chaim Silberstein, founder of the Keep Jerusalem non-profit that advocates for a united capital under Israeli sovereignty, debunked that idea on Wednesday.
Having researched the matter, he said, “There are so many building permits issued to Arabs, often proportionately more than the Jewish population.” Many don’t request them, however, because “they don’t want to pay all the levies, taxes and other payments that law-abiding residents have to pay. They don’t want to build according to the space and standards that a permit will dictate.”
The municipal building committee, he added, makes “a real effort to improve the standards and quality of life of Arabs of eastern Jerusalem.”
Female Jewish Temple Mount activist wrongly strip-searched, harassed by police
January 19, 2022 Israeli security forces guard as a group of religious Jews visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City during the holiday of Tisha B’av, July 18, 2021. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)
Lawsuit alleges 24-year-old female Temple Mount activist was illegally detained, intimidated for her advocacy work around Jewish prayer on Temple Mount.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
An NGO advocating for Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount filed a lawsuit against the Israeli police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Tuesday, charging that a female member of their organization was unlawfully strip-searched, intimidated, and harassed by the security organizations.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a bombshell revelation that the Israeli police used spyware to hack into the phones of activists and protest leaders spanning from the left to right ends of the political spectrum.
The suit seeks 200,000 NIS ($64,000) in compensation for Maayan Simcha-Barbi, the new media coordinator for Beyadenu, who alleges she was the victim of police harassment, simply because she worked for the NGO.
According to the filing, Simcha-Barbi began receiving strange phone calls in August 2020. Callers identifying themselves as police officers demanded that she present herself at the Moriah Police Station in Jerusalem for questioning about “unpaid debts.”
Simcha-Barbi was unnerved by the calls, as she did not owe money to any private individual or businees. Her attorney, Advocate Adi Ben-Hur, went to the station to inquire about the calls, but according to the suit, the police refused to answer or give justification for their actions.
Shortly afterwards, the suit said, the police unexpectedly arrived at the home of Simcha-Barbi’s parents in Haifa, purely to intimidate the family.
In August 2021, a year after the phone calls from the Moriah Police Station had begun, Simcha-Barbi was arrested at the entrance to the Temple Mount without any given reason.
The filing alleges that the police illegally confiscated her phone and violated her rights by preventing her from speaking to an attorney.
After being transported to the station, Simcha-Barbi, a religious woman, was forced by police to lift her skirt and expose her underwear as part of a “humiliating” search, and she was later physically searched.
However, she was not asked any questions by police. Rather, a security official identifying himself as a Shin Bet agent warned Simcha-Barbi that she should “stop posting incitement on social media” without giving concrete examples of any such incitement she allegedly posted.
“The purpose of this ‘investigation’ was to intimidate Maayan,” reads the suit.
“The days are over when the Israeli police or the ISA will take a 24-year-old woman with no criminal record and threaten her to stop advocating for the Temple Mount,” said Tom Nisani, CEO of Beyadenu.
“I hope the police will admit their mistakes and allow the police to be personally sued to avoid paying compensation from the state coffers.
“The police’s conduct in this case is scandalous,” said Ben-Hur, Simcha-Barbi’s attorney. “As stated in the claim, my client is suing the State of Israel for sexual harassment while unlawfully detained from ascending the Temple Mount.”
“No case has been opened against my client in the police following this illegal conduct, as stated in our claim. This is outrageous conduct. My client, a religious 24-year-old woman, is shocked to the depths of her soul by the conduct of the police. My client’s honor as a woman has been violated,” he said.
Hamas terrorists parade rockets in Gaza Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 2,000 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in matters of American public policy, responded sharply Tuesday to the recent report produced by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), asserting that a series of mainstream Jewish and allied charities are spreading “Islamophobia” by opposing radical Islamic terror. The rabbinic group called the report both pro-terror and anti-Semitic.
“CAIR was founded by individuals associated with Hamas, a genocidal terror organization, to provide a PR front and support the Hamas agenda in the US,” said CJV President Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “It was an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal Holy Land Foundation anti-terror case, and now employs the charge of ‘Islamophobia’ as a cudgel to attack foundations, organizations, and outspoken individuals who call it out correctly and truthfully as an apologist for terrorism.”
“The targeted groups include several of the foremost supporters of Jewish life and indigenous rights in the Land of Israel. It could only be regarded as a significant badge of honor for them to be labeled hateful by such a virulent hate group.”
The absolute majority of hate crimes motivated by religious bias in the United States are committed against Jews, exceeding crimes against Muslims by over five to one. Jewish students on college campuses are targeted and harassed, often by Muslim groups and Students for Justice in Palestine, which glorifies terrorism and anti-Semitism. The vast majority of terror attacks in Israel are committed by assailants motivated by radical Islamic ideology, incited in both mosques and by government leaders.Related articles:
CAIR released a statement condemning the recent hostage event at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, but did so after previous statements that contributed to the hostile environment in which it took place. CAIR has loudly agitated for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, the same demand expressed by the synagogue terrorist. Siddiqui’s own bigotry was on full display at her Federal trial, in which she tried to exclude any juror with a “Zionist or Israeli background,” meaning Jews, and then declared that her verdict was “from Israel and not from America.”
Just last month, CAIR held the latest in a series of recent events in Texas to call attention to Siddiqui’s “plight” and to demand her freedom. Just prior to that, CAIR official Zahra Billoo urged followers at a Muslim conference to “pay attention to the Zionist synagogues,” and to “know your enemies,” saying that, “Islamophobia is a well-funded conspiracy” backed by Jewish organizations.
“As it is employed today, ‘Islamophobia’ is fake news,” said CJV Midwestern Regional VP Rabbi Ze’ev Smason. “Like the political and media figures who called it ‘anti-Muslim’ to mock Rep. Ilhan Omar’s support for Hamas terror fronts like CAIR, it is those who misportray support for radical Islamic terrorism as a Muslim religious act who are guilty of inciting hate against an Abrahamic faith with hundreds of millions of peace-loving adherents. It is Omar and CAIR which deserve robust condemnation for spreading hate under the guise of religion.”
It’s an “indictment” on Congress” that 99 out of 100 Senators agree on the aid but can’t get it done, says Capitol Hill activist.
With a deadline to fund the U.S. government past the temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) passed last month set to expire mid-February, pro-Israel organizations have been pushing to bring supplemental funding of Iron Dome interceptor missiles back to the forefront.
Since September, senators have tried four times to bring a standalone supplemental $1 billion Iron Dome funding bill, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming 420-9 vote, for unanimous approval, but each time have been thwarted by the objection of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Paul stated that he didn’t oppose the funding, though he is usually opposed to foreign aid; rather, he would like to see the funding offset by taking it from the $6 billion allocated to aid the recovery of Afghanistan and deposit the remainder in the U.S. Treasury.
Passing a bill through unanimous consent is a common occurrence for legislation that is not controversial and supported by both parties. It avoids the time-consuming process that requires the bill to be debated on the Senate floor for 30 hours of valuable time before it can be voted on through the regular lawmaking process in the Senate.
After months of delay on the matter, pro-Israel organizations, organizations representing Jewish denomination and Jewish communal groups, are expressing that they are losing patience over delays that threaten the security of Israel.
One of the letters sent to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week was spearheaded by the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Council of Public Affairs. It called on the leaders to find a way to quickly move the legislation through.
Joel Rubin, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said he was proud with how the Jan. 11 letter turned out, garnering 15 signatories from groups on both sides of the political spectrum that are rarely seen advocating together.
Rubin, who has worked in both chambers of Congress, as a foreign-policy adviser in the Senate, as well as serving as deputy assistant Secretary of State during the Obama administration, said that pro-Israel groups are worried that if a solution isn’t found soon, the critical funding may not come under consideration again for a long time.
If Paul doesn’t lift his hold over the House-passed bill, the most likely option for the bill to pass would be to include it in an omnibus spending bill that is passed by both chambers.
The omnibus spending bill is currently being negotiated ahead of the expiration of the current continuing resolution. Including Iron Dome funding in a defense appropriations bill that is included in an omnibus spending bill is seen as the most likely solution to get the funding through—funding U.S. President Joe Biden has said multiple times that he supports.
Still, there is no guarantee that an agreement could be reached on an omnibus spending bill, which would then require Congress to once again kick that can down the road and pass either a CR, which carries over previous spending levels, for a period of months to up to a year in order to avoid a government shutdown.
“A Non-Controversial Bill Should Go Right Through”
Prior to passing a standalone funding bill for Iron Dome, Democrats in the House attempted to include the funding in a CR passed in September, but its inclusion was blocked by a group of progressive Democrats known as “The Squad.” Needing their support to pass the CR over the opposition of Republican members, the Iron Dome funding was taken out, and it’s unlikely if a new CR is agreed to in February that it will again be included.
Rubin said that this didn’t have to be the case.
“This is a non-controversial bill. A non-controversial bill should go right through. It should be passed by unanimous consent and they should be done,” he said. “And that’s not happened now because one senator alone has decided to make a stand for perplexing reasons that are impossible to decipher and shift and, by doing that, requiring either floor time to be used for a non-controversial bill that will pass 99-1, or having it pushed into an omnibus bill which will then require house support and opening up again another ongoing debate about Israel in the House.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. (D-N.Y.) in New York City. (AP/Yuki Iwamura)
Schumer, whose office did not respond to a request for comment by JNS, has told Jewish organizational leaders that the funding will be passed, though he was not specific on how. And while that promise and the Biden administration’s support provides confidence, Rubin said that in his career of working in public service and on policy, one can never take anything for granted.
That’s why he was glad to see the Jewish community unite on the issue because “absent that voice, issues go lower on the checklist of the leadership.”
Rubin and others following the issue who spoke to JNS believed that the quickest option to get the funding passed was its inclusion in the omnibus, assuming that Paul won’t drop his opposition and that Schumer would not want to take time away from other priorities and acquiesce to Paul’s obstruction.
“We’re Not Talking About Sending Offensive Weaponry”
“Sen. Paul is seeking to create precedent here that would be very dangerous on both sides of the aisle [that] one senator can take any non-controversial piece of legislation and insert a whole different issue into it to seek to force a vote on any different priority,” said Aaron Weinberg, director of government relations at the Israel Policy Forum.
“If leadership were to give into that, that would basically shut down the entire functioning of the Senate by just having any one senator be able to force the entire Senate to consider any piece of legislation at any moment. Nothing would ever get done, and there would be no point in having leadership and no point in having a calendar whatsoever,” Weinberg explained.
Weinberg said that usually when there is an objection to a unanimous consent bill, the senator who opposes it does so due to their opposition to the bill itself, and is often not the only senator opposing it. In this case, Paul claims not even to oppose funding to replenish Iron Dome stockpiles but is instead trying to tie his support to Afghanistan.
“I in no way shape or form blame leader Schumer for not wanting to capitulate to Sen. Paul’s antics here because they are really out of order in many ways,” said Weinberg.
If no omnibus is agreed to and Congress instead passes a “clean” CR with no Iron Dome funding that lasts a year, it could be 2023 before the supplemental funding is considered again.
“[That] would be not only suboptimal but really deleterious to Israel’s security posture and a shame that 99 out of 100 senators—that level of support can’t get something done—and that’s an indictment on really the United States Congress. … It’s a shame that this is what we’ve come to, but this is the current situation,” said Weinberg.
Weinberg and Rubin agreed that it’s possible, though highly unlikely, that Schumer could let the bill pass through the regular process.
Boris Zilberman, director of public policy and strategy at the CUFI Action Fund, said that the way things are in Congress at the moment, it may be risky to pin all hopes on an omnibus spending bill passing because such agreement may not be reachable.
“I think that’s why the letter is pushing for Republican and Democrat leadership to come together and figure out where do they find the time while they negotiate these other domestic priorities that they have to find the 30 hours to do this, to either come together and either get Paul to move off his hold, which seems unlikely, or find the floor time to figure this out and move this forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zilberman said that a long-term CR is very likely to happen because the closer you get to campaign season for the midterms, there becomes less time available before members start needing to return to their districts to campaign.
After using up significant portions of its interceptor missiles during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza in May, there is widespread concern that if a major conflict flares up between Israel and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon at any point, it’s possible that there would not be enough interceptor missiles to handle the hundreds of thousands of rockets stockpiled by the Iranian-backed terrorist organization.
“Things can blow up next week, you never know what Hezbollah is going to do and that’s why the letter also talks about Hezbollah,” said Zilberman. “What this is really about is they don’t want to get caught with their pants down basically if there’s a conflict and all the while we’re debating whether we have 30 hours in the Senate or not.”
Combined photos showing Iron Dome intercepting terrorist rockets from Gaza. (Flash90/Avi Roccah, Edi Israel)
“I mean, this is Iron Dome. Let’s remember, this is defensive weaponry. We’re not talking about sending offensive weaponry to anyone. We’re talking about sending defensive weaponry to a major U.S. ally against literal terrorists,” said Weinberg. “This is a no-brainer. This is not rocket science, I guess pun intended.”
“Rand Paul, you know, he’s iconoclastic—he picks his issues, he is taking a stand for some reason on this. For some reason, he thinks it’s the right stance to prevent us from supporting an ally in protecting itself from 250,000 terrorist rockets. For some reason, he thinks that’s a good policy and the American Jewish community does not,” said Rubin.
“From a national security perspective, Israel has put its stock in the United States as its strategic support for its security infrastructure. We have to be a reliable ally in that,” he continued. “And part of that is ensuring that we are consistent in our support for and delivery of key items that we believe Israel should have—Iron Dome being one of them.”
A watchdog group is suing the Biden administration for refusing to turn over internal documents that could show it violated a bipartisan law banning the federal government from sending money to the Palestinian government until it stops using these funds to pay terrorists.
Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), a watchdog group comprised of former government officials, is accusing the State Department of stonewalling its Freedom of Information Act request for all internal documents and communications related to the administration’s decision last year to unfreeze U.S. aid to the Palestinian government. Taxpayer funds for the Palestinian Authority were stopped under former president Donald Trump due to that government’s ongoing support for terrorism.
The lawsuit, a copy of which was exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, says the State Department sat on PPT’s FOIA request for more than 240 days, well past the statutory period in which federal agencies like the State Department must provide the requested information. The State Department says it will not be able to turn over the relevant information until at least Dec. 16.
The information in question could show the Biden administration resumed Palestinian aid in violation of a law known as the Taylor Force Act, a 2018 bipartisan piece of legislation that bars the federal government from providing taxpayer aid to the Palestinian government as long as it continues a policy known as “pay to slay,” in which aid dollars are used to pay terrorists and their families. The Palestinian Authority continues to make these payments, generating concerns from lawmakers and watchdog groups like PPT that the Biden administration violated the law.
“The American public deserves transparency around this decision, which may not only be in violation of the law but could potentially result in increased danger for U.S. citizens and their allies,” Michael Chamberlain, PPT’s director, told the Free Beacon. “But the State Department has yet to even give an estimate for when we will receive records, much less provide any.”
The watchdog group filed its FOIA request in May 2021, following several Free Beacon reports disclosing how the Palestinian Authority is funneling international aid dollars to terrorists. The State Department reported to Congress in March 2021 that the Palestinian government spent at least $151 million in 2019 on the pay-to-slay program. Another $191 million was spent on “deceased Palestinians referred to as ‘martyrs,’” according to the State Department’s assessment.
Though the Biden administration was aware of these payments—as well as failures by the U.S. Agency for International Development to place safeguards on the money—it resumed U.S. aid to the Palestinian government in April 2021.
PPT is requesting a litany of documents related to this decision, including all records, memos, emails, and private communications between the State Department and other federal agencies, including the White House National Security Council, USAID, and the U.S. envoy to the United Nations’ office. These records are to include “any meetings to discuss the legality and oversight controls in place as it pertains to the Taylor Force Act, Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018, or other relevant laws or U.S. policies,” according to the lawsuit.
The group also wants all internal communications between Secretary of State Antony Blinken, State Department spokesman Ned Price, and other officials involved in the decision to restart aid. These records would provide a window on whether or not the Biden administration knowingly violated the Taylor Force Act or other anti-terrorism laws when it restarted aid to the Palestinians.
“The release of these documents is in the public interest because the public has a right to know whether high-ranking officials charged with formulating foreign policy are properly and wisely considering legal restrictions and policy implications related to providing funds that benefit the Palestinian Authority,” the lawsuit states.
Thus far, the State Department “has failed to produce responsive records, provide an estimate for when it will begin to produce responsive records, or even clearly confirm that it has begun searching for responsive records,” the lawsuit maintains.
The State Department did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment on the lawsuit.
Every year, on May 15, the PA commemorates the “Nakba Day” – the “Catastrophe” of the creation of Israel.
Palestinian officials use the day to promote the false Palestinian narrative about the number of original “refugees”
Since its creation, the PA has brainwashed the Palestinians to believe that every “refugee” will return to live in Israel.
41% of the Palestinian population that lives in the areas controlled by the PA are still considered “refugees.”
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas preferred to leave Palestinians in Syria to die in the civil war, rather than accept them into the PA and agree to waive their “refugee” status.
Having made grandiose commitments and even objected to the refugees being naturalized in the countries in which they are living, it is inconceivable that any Palestinian leader will be able to compromise on this point.
“Were charity alone to be provided for another year [to the Palestinian refugees], it would be more difficult and costly to take constructive measures later. Nevertheless, the extent of direct relief provided through United Nations funds should be stringently cut within the next two months. There is no doubt that, however commendable it may be to extend international charity to the needy, rations greatly in excess of the number justifiable within the original intentions of the General Assembly of the United Nations have been and are being issued.”
[First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East, 1949]
One of the most fundamental demands of the Palestinian Authority for any peace deal with Israel, is that Israel allow every person they define as a “Palestinian refugee” to settle in Israel. In practical terms, this means that the PA expects Israel – that has a population of nine million people, including two million Israeli Arabs – to absorb all of the 5,629,829 so-called Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The constant reminder of this demand is the Palestinian “Nakba Day.” The word “Nakba” means “catastrophe” in Arabic, and Palestinians use it to mark the day after the establishment of Israel (May 14, 1948), when combined forces from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq joined local Arab forces in an attempt to eradicate the newly established State of Israel.
A program broadcast on official PA TV, captured the essence of the PA sentiment regarding the creation of the State of Israel:
“The anniversary (i.e., Nakba Day; see note below) reminds us of the day our land was robbed and stolen, the day our history was stolen, our land and our history – which we have never lost. The day on which an entire people was expelled from its land, so that its place would be taken by gangs that used murder and intimidation as a means to spread fear and panic among the people… The Zionist movement – with the support and patronage of colonialism – took control over 79% of the territory of historical Palestine at the time. Nearly 950,000 of our people were uprooted from their villages and cities in 1948… The Nakba was the last stop in a chain of plots led by the states of the West at the time to settle the Jews in the land of Palestine, and to get rid of the Jewish problem in Europe and the world at the expense of our people, its land, and its history.”
[Official PA TV, Simply Put, May 15 and 16, 2020]
Understanding who the people the PA defines as “Palestinian refugees” and their original number is integral to understanding the Palestinian demand. This point was made clear by PA Chairman Abbas, in a speech he gave to the Fatah Central Committee in which he stressed that in anticipation of “Nakba Day”:
“I wish to comment on one point, and it is the number of refugees who were expelled in 1948. The number of refugees who were expelled from their homes – and I say that a refugee is not someone who was removed from their homeland, but rather someone who was removed from their home – is 950,000. I remember that when we went to the [peace] talks at Camp David [in 2000], the Israelis said that the number of refugees was 250,000, most of whom had died… No, the official number that is registered at the UN is 950,000. I read 800,000 and 850,000 a couple of days ago in one of the media outlets. No, their number is 950,000. The definition of a refugee is a person who is expelled from their home to another home, and therefore whoever was removed from Jaffa to Ramallah is a refugee, and whoever went from Ashkelon to Gaza is a refugee. The meaning [of refugee] is not just someone who left the homeland.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 6, 2020]
Official PA TV News echoed the figure of 950,000 refugees:
Official PA TV newsreader: “Yesterday, Friday [May 15, 2020], was the 72nd anniversary of our people’s Nakba, whose outcome was the expulsion of approximately 950,000 Palestinians from their cities and towns.”
[Official PA TV News, May 16, 2020]
Analysis of Abbas’ statement and the PA narrative expose their inaccuracies.
How many Palestinian refugees were there in 1948?
First and foremost, Abbas’ claim that “the official number [of refuges] that is registered at the UN is 950,000”, is simply false. The UN has never had an “official number” of Palestinian refugees and the estimates that appear in UN documents were much lower:
UN General Assembly resolution 194, which the PA quotes as the basis for their demand that every refugee be allowed into Israel, does not stipulate any number of refugees. UN General Assembly resolution 212 refers to only 500,000 refugees. Both resolutions were adopted in 1948, before the armistice agreements between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries were reached.
The First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East from November 1949 (“the Interim Report”) prefaces any discussion on the subject of the number of refugees by saying, “No one knows exactly how many refugees there are.” Having said that, the report continues “The number of refugees, in the sense of persons who have fled from Israel and are unable to return, is estimated, from the most up-to-date data available, at 726,000.” This figure was reached months after armistice agreements had been signed and no fighting was underway.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) website notes that “When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees.” This number is made up of the 726,000 refugees estimated by the United Nations Economic Survey mission with the addition of the 25,000 people “who still live at home, but are without means because they are separated from their lands by the armistice lines.”
A report of the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine submitted in 1951, notes that while no accurate number of refugees existed, the committee adopted the estimate of the UN statistical expert (which it believed to be as accurate as circumstances permitted), which indicated that ”the refugees from Israel-controlled territory amount to approximately 711,000.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), that is also headed by Mahmoud Abbas, appears to adopt the findings of the Interim Report, claiming that “From 1947 to 1949, more than 726,000 Palestinians were expelled from or forced to leave their homes and became refugees prior to, and immediately following, Israel’s statehood declaration.” The reference to 1947 would appear to refer to the Nov. 29, 1947 UN Partition plan, rejected by the Arab countries.
A so-called “fact sheet” posted this year on the website of PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Shtayyeh, to mark the 72th anniversary of the “Nakba” claims that “800,000 Palestinians or more were displaced.” A similar figure was presented on official PA TV:
Text: “1948: The expulsion and migration of more than 800,000”
[Official PA TV, May 15, 20020]
In a study authored by Professor Efraim Karsh of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs at Bar Ilan University, Karsh quotes an August 3, 1948 article in the New York Times, which set the number of refugees as of the date of the article at 300,000 people. Karsh continues to explain how the real number of refugees was closer to 540,000-590,000 people.
Where did the refugees go and how many are there today?
The Interim Report records the movement of the refugees as follows:
280,000 refugees entered the area described in the 1947 UN Partition Plan as Judea and Samaria. Joining the 460,000 people who were already residents, the refugees then became 38% of the population, and lived under Jordanian rule. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 858,758 refugees in Judea and Samaria, who live under Palestinian Authority rule.
200,000 refugees entered the Gaza Strip from 1947-1949, joining the 70,000 people who were already resident there, becoming 74% of the population, and lived under Egyptian rule. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 1,460,315 refugees in Gaza Strip.
97,000 refugees crossed into Lebanon. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 476,033 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
75,000 refugees crossed into Syria. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 562,312 Palestinian refugees in Syria.
70,000 refugees crossed the Jordan River and entered the then newly created Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which had achieved independence just two years prior in May 1946. According to UNRWA, as of 31 December 2019, there are 2,272,411 Palestinian refugees in Jordan.
4,000 refugees travelled to Iraq.
The following chart summarizes the above figures and shows the growth of the number of refugees from Mandate Palestine in 1948 to the present day:
UNRWA defines “Palestine refugees” as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”
The Interim Report recorded that 50% of the original refugees were 16 years old and above. Those remaining of these people would now be at least 88 years old. The remaining 50% were under 16 years old and would today be between 72 and 87 years old.
While death by natural causes resulted in an annual reduction of the number of actual refugees from Palestine, UNRWA statistics clearly show that the number listed as Palestinian refugees is growing, and at a considerable rate.
This anomaly is the result of a unique refugee definition adopted by UNRWA, specifically for the refugees from Palestine, which allows for “The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including adopted children” to be registered as refugees.
These figures are significant, in order to understand Abbas’ second claim, “that a refugee is not someone who was removed from their homeland, but rather someone who was removed from their home.” This definition is also critical to understand the Palestinian narrative. In other words, for Abbas and the PA, Palestinians who lived in Jaffa in 1948 and now live in Ramallah under the PA are considered to be refugees.
As the above figures show, when the PA was created (1994-1995) over 1.2 million of the Palestinians registered as refugees lived in areas that were under the PA’s control. In the last 25 years, that refugee population has nearly doubled to 2.26 million.
According to Abbas and the PA, while these descendants of the refugees live in areas that Abbas and the PA claim as the “State of Palestine” – i.e., Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip – from the PA’s point of view they too are promised the right to enter and settle in Israel as part of any settlement to the conflict.
According to statistics provided by official PA TV, 41% of the Palestinian population living in the PA controlled areas are refugees (26% of the residents of Judea and Samaria and 64% of the residents of Gaza are refugees):
“The rate of the refugee residents in the State of Palestine has reached approximately 41%”
“The rate of refugees in the West Bank reaches 26%”
“The rate of refugees in the Gaza Strip reaches 64%”
Using a key as symbol, the PA, the PLO, and Fatah – all headed by Abbas – constantly promise the “return” of the refugees. The following are just a sample of examples of this message from this year’s “Nakba” events:
Text on signs: “The return is a right that passes as an inheritance 72nd anniversary of the Nakba Posted text: “The return is a right that passes as an inheritance #Returning”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]
Text on logo: “We will return to Palestine 72 [years since the Nakba]” Posted text: “#We_will_return_to_Palestine_72”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]
The image is a circular logo showing the PA map of “Palestine” that presents all of Israel as “Palestine” together with the PA areas. Next to the PA map is the Palestinian flag and in front of it is the Dome of the Rock and a tent with a fist rising up from it holding a key symbolizing the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.”
Text on image: “We will return to Palestine 72 [years since the Nakba]
The PLO Department of Refugee Affairs The [PLO] Supreme National Committee to Commemorate Nakba Day 72 years since the Nakba – May 15
The right of return Is a firm right That is irrevocable
#We_will_return_to_Palestine_72 #Stay_at_home” (i.e., due to Coronavirus epidemic –Ed.)
Posted text: “#We_will_return_to_Palestine_72”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]
Posted text and text on image: “72 years since the Nakba And the key is still standing firm”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 15, 2020]
Text on PA map: “Returning 72 years” On the left is a historical photograph of Palestinian refugees walking in front of vehicles packed with belongings.
Text at bottom of image: “The 72nd anniversary of the Nakba”
Posted text: “The 72nd anniversary of the Nakba of Palestine The return is a sacred and firm right that is irrevocable The refugees are the cause and the return is the solution #Returning #We_will_return_without_a_doubt”
[Official Facebook page of the PA Presidential Guard, May 15, 2020]
Text on image: “One day we will return and we will wave the flag.”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 14, 2020]
The image shows an elderly Palestinian man sitting next to a child at the entrance to a tent on the right, and below them the text in English: “Nakba 1948”. In the center is the Dome of the Rock. In the upper left is a dove in flight with a key around its neck symbolizing the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.” In the top left corner is the Palestinian flag. In the bottom left corner is the Fatah logo.
Expanding on the promise of “return” for the refugees, PA Mufti of Jerusalem and preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein said:
“Today, Friday [May 15, 2020], is the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba … Palestine belongs to its people who adhere to the right of return, which has no statute of limitations, since the keys of the homes are still with their owners in the [refugee] camps of the diaspora. The adults have died and the young have remained with more strength than their predecessors in their adherence to their land and holy sites, and our rights will not be lost… We are the group that is carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic) and standing firm in anticipation that Allah will give us the joy of liberation and our Palestinian people’s return to their lands and homes from which they were expelled.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 16, 2020]
Emphasizing what the Palestinians see as the inalienable nature of the right of return, PLO Executive Committee member and Head of the PLO Department of Refugee Affairsand the PLO Supreme National Committee, Ahmad Abu Houli said:
“The right of return will remain a judicial, legal, and international document of proof in the hands of the Palestinian refugees that no one can steal from them or erase from the Palestinian memory. The Palestinian refugees have a right, homeland, and land, and that their return to their homes from which they were expelled in 1948, according to [UN] Resolution 194, is the basis for any solution. Their return to their homes is not impossible, and that what is impossible is to forget this right, to relinquish it, or to accept the refugees’ naturalization [in their host countries]…
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 15, 2020]
The PLO Supreme National Committee to Commemorate Nakba Day sent a letter to UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in which they emphasized:
“The Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homes from which they were expelled in 1948, according to what appears in [UN] Resolution 194, is a firm historical and legal sacred right that has no statute of limitations.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 16, 2020]
Referring to the PA narrative regarding the so-called ”return of the refugees,” official PA TV noted:
“This right passes as an inheritance from the grandparents to the children and grandchildren. We are always talking about the word ‘Palestine’ and the return to Palestine. Palestine – we are dreaming and living it as Palestine in its entirety, from the Upper Galilee (i.e., region in northern Israel) to Umm Al-Rashrash (i.e., the Palestinian Arabic name for Eilat), from Gaza to Jericho, with Jerusalem as its capital.”
[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, May 11, 2020]
The inalienable right that can never be realized
Having brainwashed all Palestinians – and in particular the Palestinian “refugees” – for over seven decades to believe that their refugee status is inalienable and they will eventually be allowed to settle in Israel, it is doubtful whether any Palestinian leader will ever be able to accept any offer for peace that does not accommodate and realize this narrative.
Indeed, in 2013 when Israel offered to allow Palestinian refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria to enter the PA-controlled territories, on condition they waived their refugee status, the offer was rejected by Abbas. According to Abbas, it was more reasonable that the Palestinian refugees potentially die in Syria, rather than give up their refugee status:
“[PA] Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina announced yesterday [Jan 21, 2013] that President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the condition set by Israel for the entry of Palestinian refugees from Syria into the territories of the State of Palestine. Abu Rudeina said to AFP in a conversation from Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] where he is with the president in order to participate in the Arab Economic Summit: ‘President Abbas requested of the Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon that Israel allow the Palestinians from Syria – victims of the violence taking place there – to enter the territories of the occupied State of Palestine.’ He added that ‘Israel agreed but set an impossible condition – that anyone who enters the territories of the occupied State of Palestine renounce his right of return, which President Mahmoud Abbas absolutely refuses.’ Abu Rudeina said: ‘The issue of the Palestinian refugees and their right of return is one of the issues in a permanent arrangement, and no one can make changes to it, as the international resolutions stipulate their return to their homeland and the homes from which they were expelled, especially [UN] resolution 194, which stipulates the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.’”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 22, 2013]
The PA ideology behind flooding Israel with millions of the descendants of the Palestinian refugees is very clear and plays an integral part in the PA deception to hide its true goals.
For the purposes of the international community, the PA pretends to support what has become known as the “Two State Solution”, which would see a sovereign Jewish state living side by side with a sovereign Palestinian state. But in reality, the PA’s only vision is the creation of a Palestinian state, free of Jews, that would exist alongside Israel flooded with the so-called Palestinian refugees. These refugees, according to the PA vision, would of course receive full Israeli citizenship and be able democratically to eradicate the Jewish state.
Either way, demography and geography reinforce historical Jewish claims to this land.
(January 7, 2022 / JNS)
A newcomer to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict might ask: What is the West Bank? Where is it? Where are Judea and Samaria? Are they on the same land? If so, why do they have different names? Does history provide answers?
According to the biblical narrative, as far back as one can go in Jewish history, Judea defined the land south of Jerusalem and Samaria the land to the north. It was in Judea that Abraham purchased the Machpelah cave in Hebron—the first Jewish-owned property in the Promised Land—as the burial site for Sarah. In time, King David ruled from Hebron before relocating his throne to Jerusalem. Although Samaria, captured from the Canaanites, defined the northern Kingdom of Israel during the ninth and eighth centuries BCE, its place in Jewish history became less consequential over time.
Fast-forward to 1917, during World War I, when British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour proclaimed support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” But according to the Churchill White Paper five years later, the Balfour Declaration did “not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded ‘in Palestine.’ ” The unanswered question was: Where was “Palestine”?
Geographical boundaries were drawn in 1922 when the League of Nations issued a mandate recognizing “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” Jews were granted the legal right to “close settlement” west of the Jordan River. Land east of the river, identified as Transjordan, was gifted to Hashemite Emir Abdullah, who ruled the territory for the next 30 years. “Palestinians,” who did not yet exist as a distinct people, were not mentioned.
Twenty-six years later, on May 14, 1948, the Jewish State of Israel was born, and five Arab nations—Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq—launched a war to annihilate it. Israel survived, but its eastern boundary was significantly narrowed. Jordan’s newly conquered territory became known as its “West Bank.” Comprising biblical Judea and Samaria, it included the Old City of Jerusalem, location of the First and Second Temples; and Hebron. The fledgling Jewish state was deprived of its holiest ancient sites and capital cities. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories
Within two decades, history was reversed. In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel retrieved its ancient land—Judea and Samaria—west of the Jordan River. Jordan’s “West Bank” now existed in memory only, although the label has continued to be applied by those, especially The New York Times, which demands that Israel return to its precarious (and history-denying) pre-1967 boundaries. Otherwise, according to the paper, it remains guilty of the illegal “occupation” of “Palestinian” land.
But demography and geography reinforce historical Jewish claims to this land. By now, nearly 500,000 Israelis live in Judea and Samaria. Nearly 60 percent inhabit five settlement blocs comprising less than 2 percent of the land east of Israel’s pre-1967 border. Ironically, the smallest number (800) live where Jewish historical claims are the oldest and deepest: Hebron.
International pressure has not deterred Israel from expanding the settler population. The tenacity of these despised Israelis fulfills the yearning of Jews to return to their biblical homeland. That, after all, defines Zionism. Why, under any circumstances, should Israel relinquish it?
Amid the unrelenting criticism of Israel, especially in the United Nations, it is seldom noticed that Palestinians already have their own state east of the Jordan River, in Palestine. It is the Kingdom of Jordan, where they comprise more than half the population. There is no reason for biblical Judea and Samaria to become another Palestinian state.
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of 12 books, including “Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel (1896-2016).”
Every opportunity should be utilized to express to the Palestinians that their rejectionism will be defeated, and that the Jewish state will ultimately emerge victorious.
(January 10, 2022 / JNS)
Victory over one’s enemy is usually more psychological than physical.
Why the Nazis gave up when they did during World War II is largely conjecture left for historians. However, that particular moment of their capitulation—as opposed to before or after it—likely occurred not as a result of any specific act by the Allies, but rather due the acceptance by their leadership that they could no longer win and achieve their aims.
The more than 100-year conflict with the Palestinians over the right of the Jewish people to sovereignty in their ancestral and indigenous homeland is a far more complex battle, with no obvious front. And while violence has always played a large part in it, it is not always palpable.
Nevertheless, winning the conflict depends on the same criterion as that which led to the defeat of the Nazis: one side understanding that it can no longer win and achieve its aims. For the Palestinians, this moment of awareness has clearly not arrived yet, and each decision the State of Israel takes should be to push the Palestinians towards such realization.
Unfortunately, many of the recent—and not so recent—decisions that Israeli officials have made will not persuade the Palestinians that they have lost, or that they’re even in the process of losing. Sadly, the opposite is the case. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories
Mere days after Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at his home in Rosh Ha’ayin and offered him various compromises, Abbas delivered a three-hour lecture on the “history of the Palestinian cause,” in which he claimed that the Jews have no history in Israel and are part of a colonial theft of the land.
According to Palestinian Media Watch, Abbas “presented those present with a concise historical survey that dealt intensively with the injustice caused to the Palestinians when the world powers—and foremost among them the U.S. and Britain—agreed to the theft of the homeland and land and to granting them as a gift to the Zionist movement, which is an inseparable part of the international colonialist movement.”
As this illustrates, Israel’s concessions move the Palestinians further and further away from defeat and acceptance of the permanence and right of the Jewish people to sovereignty, while emboldening their violent rejectionism.
Another example of giving a tailwind to those who believe in an ultimate Palestinian victory is the story of Khader Adnan, a member of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Arrested and placed in Israeli administrative detention, he decided to go on a hunger strike until he was released.
A battle of wills ensued between Israeli authorities and Palestinian prisoners who used sympathy as a weapon. Rather than serving as a lesson for Israel about how to win such a war of wills, Israel wilted and Adnan was able to secure his release.
Another to win his own release is Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash, who ended a 140-day hunger strike after Israel agreed that he would be let go in February.
This tactic not only emboldens other Palestinian prisoners; it poses the risk of rendering Israel’s administrative detention rules, which are necessary for the Jewish state’s security, void and obsolete.
Coupled with Israel’s concerns about the potential for bad publicity if one of the prisoners should die while in detention is the supposed threat of violence on the part of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other terrorist groups should one of their members die. As if this weren’t bad enough, some Israeli officials have reportedly stated that it was necessary to give in to the prisoners for “security reasons.”
This might make some sense for the short term, but clearly it’s not going to dissuade or deter violent Palestinian rejectionist and terrorist groups. Each time that Israel climbs down from its tree, they believe that they’re facing a paper tiger and have renewed hope for ultimate victory.
This sadly brings to mind what Winston Churchill famously and presciently said to Neville Chamberlain after the latter thought that he had made a deal to stave off war with Hitler and the Nazis in 1938: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”
Israel has many choices and options in its relations with the Palestinians. The history of these relations over the last three decades has amply demonstrated that seeking agreements, offering compromises or trying to stave off conflict merely feeds the beast of violent Palestinian rejectionism.
It is time for a different strategy—one that involves pushing back against Palestinian demands and threats. Every opportunity should be utilized to express to the Palestinians that their rejectionism will be defeated, and that Israel will ultimately emerge victorious.
As things stand at the moment, however, the Palestinians harbor hopes of victory. These must be crushed.
Doing this doesn’t necessarily require a single major maneuver or activity, but it does mean looking at each and every interaction to ascertain whether it further fuels Palestinian hopes of victory and an end to Jewish sovereignty, or Israeli victory and an end to the conflict.
Alex Nachumson is an IDF Military Commander (Res) and CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former senior IDF Officers, and an adviser to the Israel Victory Project.