Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
It is a fact that 90 percent of the Jewish community of Libya emigrated to Israel after the end of WW2, but how many know that, until emigration became legal, hundreds of Libyan Jews passed through Italian Displaced Persons (DP) camps, intending to make it to Israel?
These Jews, some mere teenagers, had suffered through privation and even internment during WW2. They were the survivors of labour camps such as the notorious Giado camp, south west of Tripoli, where 600 Jews died of typhus or starvation. They had also survived pogroms - some 130 Jews died in the November 1945 Tripoli pogrom. To add insult to injury, another pogrom was to break out in June 1948.
An Anglo-Arab regime controlled Libya until independence in 1952. The administration would not let Jews leave. Emigration was only legalised in January 1949. Those desperate enough were smuggled across the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats. Some 1,300 made it to Israel via Italy between 1947 and 1949.
According to Danielle Willard-Kyle, who has made a study of the inmates of the DP camps, an additional complication is that many fleeing Libyan Jews did not have citizenship, or had been stripped of their citizenship. Arriving in the DP camps, some pretended to have Eastern European citizenship.
The international community, in the shape of the International Refugee Organisation (IRO), which had been set up to deal with the massive postwar refugee crisis, callously refused to recognise Libyan escapees as refugees. The IRO went so far as to claim that they were economic migrants. They would therefore not be eligible for asylum benefits.
The American Joint Distribution Committee, which cared for the humanitarian needs of Jews, insisted that those who had made it to Italy were bona fide refugees. But the IRO argued that if they helped the Jews, they would have to help the Arab refugees fleeing from Palestine. If the Joint had not intervened, these Jews would have been repatriated to Libya, not allowed to continue their journey to Palestine.
The Arab problem was soon dealt with by the creation of UNWRA, dedicated to this day, to helping Palestnian 'refugees. The case of the Libyan Jews in DP camps seems to be the perfect example of an international double standard when it comes to Jewish refugees.
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
Her family inheritance included hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the Jezreel Valley, the Western Galilee, the Hefer Valley, Haifa and Jaffa. The land in Haifa, on which the Bahai Faith’s Shrine of the Báb now stands, was owned by the family, as were major streets in Jaffa and hundreds of acres around what is now Eilat Street in Tel Aviv. These acquisitions began in in 1870, when the Turkish government sold land in Israel to subjects of the Ottoman Empire. The wealthy Sursock family (also spelled Sursuq), purchased no less than 200,000 acres throughout Palestine, including about 50,000 acres in the Jezreel Valley.
In 1891, Zionist activists entered into negotiations with the Sursock family for land purchases. Bit by bit, plot by plot, properties were purchased by Zionist movement leaders Yehoshua Hankin, Laurence Oliphant, Arthur Ruppin, the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayement Le’Israel, and the World Zionist Organization (WZO). Around 1925, the Sursock family made a long list of the transactions: areas in the lower city of Haifa, 2,500 acres in the Beit She'an Valley, 7,500 acres in the Hefer Valley. Merhavia, Mizra, Tel Adashim, Nahalal, Kfar Yehezkel, Tel Yosef, Yokneam, Ramat Yohanan and Ein Harod - all were established on land bought from the Sursock family. Her father did business with Yehoshua Hankin, the ‘land redeemer’ responsible for most of the major WZO purchases, when the latter came to Beirut for meetings for this purpose. Hankin's niece, Tzila Shoham-Feinberg, later documented this business trip to Beirut; she accompanied her uncle and watched him sign an additional land deal.
When Herzog founded his now-famous firm, Herzog Fox & Neeman in 1972, he brought with him the Lady Cochrane case. He decided to focus attention on her being a citizen of several countries with diplomatic status, as well as on the undeniable fact: the Sursock family willingly helped the Zionist enterprise to stand on its own two feet in the decades before the establishment of the state.
The search for the case in question brought us to the archives of Herzog Fox & Neeman on Weizmann Street in Tel Aviv. By request of "Globes", we were permitted to rummage through the old documents of the Cochrane file; an old brown box, laden with yellowing pages, was pulled off the shelf and brought respectfully up to the luxurious meeting room floor.
Adv. Meir Linzen, today the firm’s managing partner, was a young intern during the relevant years when this box was placed on his desk. He recalled this special case, perhaps his first international-geopolitical one. "Chaim Herzog was, of course, a well-known international personage, and they [Cochrane’s lawyers] addressed him as 'General Herzog'. Although most legal work is dull gray, many times, unusual cases with exotic stories like this would come in to our office.
"Under the Absentees' Property Law, 5710- 1950, there is a special committee authorized to approve exceptional cases. Lady Cochrane has approached the committee since 1950 and her appeals were denied."
When Herzog got the case and started working, he wrote a letter to then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban. "It should be remembered that Abba Eban was Chaim Herzog's brother-in-law and they would correspond. Today, that sort of thing would probably be prohibited."
We leaf through the old documents in the file and find the correspondence: Herzog asks Eban to instruct his representative on the Custodian of Absentee Property special committee to support the release of the Lady's assets, noting that the British Jewish leaders support her. Eban consents.
In a letter dated April 28, 1969, Herzog wrote to Eban, "Dear Abba, I spoke with you at the time about my handling, at the request of Sir Isaac Wolfson and others, matters related to the property in Jaffa of Lady Cochrane who is the wife of Desmond Cochrane who is, among other things, Honorary Consul-General of Ireland for the Lebanon. Lady Cochrane comes from an Arab family that is well-known here, however she married Sir Desmond before 1948. As you will see from the attached, the Irish Foreign Minister is personally interested in this affair and, along with him, other good Jews such as Marcus Sieff, etc. The issue must be approved by the inter-ministerial committee however this apparently requires support from the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Migdal. In light of this, I am handing this issue on to you so that you can instruct Dr. Migdal accordingly. Yours, C. Herzog. "
On May 30, 1969, Eban replied: "Dear Chaim, I hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 28, 1969 regarding Lady Cochrane. I learned from the Director of the Claims Department, Dr. Migdal, that Mrs. Cochrane's request was brought before the inter-ministerial committee in 1967, and at the initiative of my office. However, all members of the committee - with the exception of the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - voted against the request. To the best of my knowledge, there are no precedents for releasing absentee assets to 'enemy subjects’ and also residents of an Arab state. I am therefore afraid that even if there is a re-hearing of Ms. Cochrane's claim, it is doubtful whether her request will be approved. However, I have instructed Dr. Migdal to support Mrs. Cochrane's request, should her request come up for discussion, in view of the special interest shown in the fate of the claim by Wolfson and Sieff and the Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Regards, Abba"
But then, a changeover takes place at the Israeli government. The Foreign Minister departs his post, and the new Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan, decides not to take a position on the matter, thus dropping it.
"It was also important for him not to set a precedent in the area of properties, because it could have been a slippery slope. I remember him deliberating whether to go to the High Court or not, out of fear for setting a legal precedent. Everyone told him, you're going to lose the case, there's no way. But he studied the material, considered the positive attitude of Lady Cochrane's family towards Zionism and Zionist settlement, and decided that her case was different. I remember preparing a brown bag for him, a kind of suitcase, and putting the books with their bookmarks inside. "
The brown storage box contains many other documents. The folders are removed and spread out on the wood table. Out of a matt blue folder emerges a letter with an original signature; former President of Lebanon Camille Nimr Chamoun wrote on May 8, 1980: "To whom it may concern: Lady Cochrane and her whole family are well known to me. Her father Alfred Sursock, was a man of great political influence, and Lady Cochrane has always followed a decidedly patriotic line, to her own peril. She always fought against the occupation of Lebanon, whether by the PLO or by Syrian forces. She did so through the press and the mass media, despite the insufficient means at her disposal." "This is an amazing story. When did the President of Lebanon and the Israeli Foreign Minister ever cooperate on a legal case?" says Isaac Herzog, former chairman of the opposition, now chairman of the Jewish Agency - and son of Chaim Herzog.
But of all the amazing details in the story, it seems, the fact that Lady Cochrane's claim was eventually accepted is perhaps the most amazing. "Herzog presented the High Court the argument of effective nationality, when a person holds several citizenships," Linzen says in explaining Herzog's winning legal argument. "Lady Cochrane's husband was an Irish diplomat. He convinced the High Court that her stay in Lebanon was out of diplomatic necessity, and the High Court ruled that the special committee must reconsider. Following the ruling, Herzog reached an agreement with the committee to sign a monetary compensation agreement. All contact with her took place through a law firm in London.
"If I remember correctly, the amount paid to her was quite small. These were huge areas in Jaffa and Haifa, but the decision was about reverting to the committee for discussion; the financial agreement was signed with the Development Authority."
Reporter: why did the Sursock family support the Zionist enterprise?
"I assume they had business considerations. But it should be remembered that this was the period prior to Palestinian nationalism. There were Palestinian farmers inhabiting and working the land, and they thought that the Jewish people coming to Israel would be good for the region." If so, then an aristocratic daughter from Lebanon managed - using money that enabled her to hire the best lawyers - to obtain a letter from the President of Lebanon and the approval of an Israeli foreign minister to release valuable properties. But we can assume that the simple poor will never be able to reclaim what was theirs.
"The rule in 99.99% of absentee property cases is that people will not receive the property unless there is a peace agreement. There will be no return of property, at most there will be monetary compensation. Return of property cannot stand.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
It is 150 years since the Crémieux decree, named after the French-Jewish politician and philanthropist Adolphe Crémieux, imposed French nationality on the Jews of Algeria in October 1870, giving them equal rights with the white settlers. The decree freed the Jews from their second class status as dhimmis under Islam but wrought a growing cultural and linguistic gulf with the Arabs. Less well-known, however, is that the Crémieux decree generated a fierce antisemitic backlash. Here is an extract from his book Les Dix Commandements, by Didier Nebot (with thanks: Leon):
In their very long history, Jewish people have lived for more than two thousand years in Africa. They had been there since the time of the Phoenicians. Some came from Cyrenaica, others from Judea or Spain.
While a number converted to Islam when the Arabs arrived in the 7th century, others remained what they still are today, Jews.
They rubbed shoulders with the Berbers, they had moments of happiness, doubt or distress. They have bowed their heads to the dhimmi laws - they endured humiliation and annoyance with dignity, but they never went under.
Then France arrived, granting them in 1870 French nationality through the Crémieux decree. The Jews emerged from the state of submission they had been in for centuries, joining the civilization of nascent freedoms, the homeland of human rights.
Another decree was promulgated at the same time putting an end to the military administration in Algeria: It became French, was split into three departments and transferred to civilian rule. the European population rejoiced: the land they cultivated finally belonged to them! France now extended south, across the seas. A merry madness shook the country, but the Muslims did not participate in the celebrations.
Nothing was planned for them. Of course, Napoleon III had offered them French nationality in the senatus-consulte of 1865, but they would have had to accept French laws instead of Sharia. Very few Muslims dared to take the plunge. They were considered renegades by their co-religionists.
Shocked by this denial of their identity, the Muslims cried out in contempt: stripped of their property, they were nothing. They also found it difficult to accept France's granting French nationality to Jews. It was an injustice to them, the Jews who had lived there as dhimmis for centuries, suddenly had more rights than the Arabs. It was crazy! The revolt was brewing and in 1871, the Kabyles rose up. They attacked cities and burned farms. In Palestro, they massacred thirty-one colonists. The Crémieux decree was not the trigger for this strong Muslim reaction, but it contributed to it. Their leader, Bachaga Mokrani said:
"I am willing to put myself under a sabre, even ifit chopped off my head, but under a Jew, never! Never ! "
The Jews themselves, rooted in the contempt they were generously accorded, did not know whether they should rejoice or fear new threats: The looks they met did not bode well. The many Spanish emigrants, who had inherited the same privileges, retained an ancestral contempt for this "cursed race" which had helped crucify Jesus.The French, parading their obvious superiority, did not rate this "cowardly, hypocritical and thieving" people. The newspaper L’Antijuif, was sold in cafes, where people would vilify anyone but Europeans.
Adolphe Crémieux, architect of the decree giving equal rights to the Jews in Algeria
It was at the time of the Dreyfus affair that everything nearly changed. Zola's "J'accuse" article in L'aurore ignited the fuse. There were violent anti-Semitic reactions, both from the Muslim and the Christian side. Led by Max Régis, the son of an Italian immigrant, the anti-Jewish forces in Algiers assembled, spreading horrible incitement against the Jews: "They are upstarts, they are bloodsuckers, they are ruining us, they are liars. "
And what was to happen happened. On Saturday January 22, 1898, hatred led to attacks throughout the country against the Jews.
During the following days, the situation remained precarious. Although the protests had lessened, calm did not return. Extremists were everywhere, feelings ran high.The newspaper L’Antijuif used words of unprecedented violence: “We will water the tree of our freedom with their blood [...] This rot must be eliminated so that our homeland can be glorified. "Only the Jews could be guilty of the difficulties faced in developing the country, bad blood with the natives, the agricultural slump, the failure to establish a real democracy here , In the cafes discussions were lively and brawls frequent. A few 'fanatics' dared to defend the ' parasites', in the name of sacrosanct democracy.
Unfortunately, matters got out of hand and extremists took control of Algiers. Max Régis, their leader, was elected mayor. Their only objective was to repeal the Crémieux decree which had allowed the Israelites to become French - and to expel them from Algeria.
After deliverance and the unheard-of hope of emancipation, should the Jews bow their heads again? Business went bad - few Europeans entered Jewish shops. Life became difficult. So the "cursed race" as it was called tried to adapt, as discreetly as possible, while waiting for God to remember His people.
Four years passed. The Jews submitted without admitting defeat. The racists were grumbling, threatening Paris with secession if the Crémieux decree was not repealed, but their voices were lost in the immensity of the waves separating the two continents. Their sterile discussions, their clan struggles, the persistent economic slump deprived them of all credibility, so much so that in the elections of 1902 the Republican candidates won over the nationalists. It was the triumph of common sense; Algerian anti-Semitism had failed.
Joy exploded in the Jewish community. Business was given a kick start. Despite an inhospitable climate, the Jews continued their march towards modernity. They benefited fully from the laws of the Republic and their social and cultural level rose rapidly. The rapprochement with France, which had passed a law separating Church and State , emphasised the distance from traditional worship practices. Thus the younger generations, particularly in the big cities, received an increasingly basic religious education. We no longer said bar mitzvah but communion, we often used the word Temple instead of synagogue.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Monday, October 19, 2020
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Friday, October 16, 2020
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Gal Gadot (Jewish News)
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Monday, October 12, 2020
Al-Mutairi suggested that keeping the financial records in Hebrew may have been aimed at preventing an audit of the accounts, possibly to protect their Ottoman superiors. But perhaps the most significant post held by a Jew was that of Director of Customs for the whole province – a highly desirable position sought after by many both inside and outside Ahsaa because of the potential it offered for illicit income.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
"Many of them listened to the news from Israel because they would hear the real story, not the propaganda and lies that the media in the Arab countries spew out. Radio Baghdad boasted about so-called victories over Israel - fictitious. Even after Israel's victory, Radio Baghdad continued to broadcast the lies and didn't even mention the Arab defeat."
Edna Anzarut Turner, whose family fled Egypt in 1956, recalls: "I still remember the signature tune and the words in Arabic حنا محتة ال اسراىلً : 'This is the Voice of Israel.'