My obnoxious rebuttal to Rachel Shabi

Rachel Shabi

 (With thanks to all those who emailed me Rachel Shabi’s article)

The Israeli government has just raised the Jewish refugee issue. (How tiresome for Rachel Shabi. She thought she was done with the subject.)

Israeli diplomats have been told to make an equivalence at every ‘relevant’ forum. What fun, she writes sarcastically. How very manipulative, misleading and obnoxious.

Writing in Haaretz, this award-winning journalist and author is but the latest of leftwing critics of deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon’s campaign to obtain justice for Jewish refugees. Someone should have told her that a torrent of abuse is little substitute for powerful argument. As Victor Hugo once said, “Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.”

So let’s examine what arguments she does advance: ” Jews are supposed to have a nation.” A variant of Hanan Ashrawi‘s contention that Jews cannot be refugees because they were returning to their ‘homeland’.  Yet it has been easily established that most Jews who came to Israel arrived through a combination of push and pull factors. A Jew can be both a refugee and a Zionist.

Then comes a restatement of the Arab propaganda argument that ‘Zionist emissaries’ caused the exodus when ‘most Jews preferred to engage in home-grown nationalist movements’. This is simply not true. Iraqi Jews became Zionists overnight following devastating pogroms such as the 1941 Farhud – in which almost 200 Jews were slaughtered like sheep – because the underground offered them training in self-defence. They also turned to Communism because Arab nationalism marginalised and excluded non-Arabs and non-Muslims. Very few became nationalists.

As one whose relatives also stayed in Iraq until the 1970s I have news for you, Rachel. They did so not to prove that they were good nationalists, nor to escape the unwanted attentions of Zionist emissaries, but because they had no alternative. They were trapped as hostages in Iraq simply because they were forbidden from leaving. Does she ever wonder for a moment why in the 1970s most of the rest of Iraq’s 3,000 Jews – those who did not succumb to Zionist pressure to join the forced exodus to Israel in 1950 – were desperate enough to risk arrest, imprisonment, life and limb, to escape persecution and terror in Iraq by smuggling themselves through the Kurdish mountains and over the border into Iran ?

The rest of Shabi’s piece is built on the false premise that the Israeli government wants to ‘offset’ Jewish and Palestinian claims – in fact Israel has been pushing the idea of an international fund to compensate individual  refugees on both sides.

She also claims that Palestinians are not just any Arabs deserving of resettlement in not just any Arab country – and that it’s about time that Israel behaved as a member of the Middle East family of nations by appreciating the difference. Yet a reading of the Palestinian National Covenant will tell you that the Palestinians consider themselves part of the Arab nation. The Hamas charter, whose primary aim is a caliphate, not a Palestinian ‘homeland’, considers Palestinian Arabs part of the Muslim umma. But when it comes to fighting for basic Palestinian human rights: how annoying, how tiresome.

When it comes to fighting for the rights of Palestinians to live as full citizens of the country they happen to be living in now – with rights to jobs and property – the likes of Rachel Shabi are just not interested –  if it does not allow them to score points against Israel.

But enough of such obnoxious truths.  Rachel, I know it’s all such a bore.  


  • So if she's kicked out of Israel for permanent exile she won't be a refugee? Good to know, and please do that. Kick her out of the country forever.

  • I have already given my opinion on Ms/ Shabby, if I remember well i
    said that her thoughts were as shabby as her name!
    She does not deserve that we waste our time with her!
    suzy vidal

  • Eliyahu –
    there were very few nationalists in Iraq, as you say – mostly in the 1920s during the Nahda or 'cultural renaissance. there would have been scarcely any left after the 1941 Farhud.
    Interesting that for a long time one could be an Egyptian nationalist and a zionist sympathiser.

    Sylvia – Thanks for Diab's link. Altogether more honest and nuanced than Shabi – although none of the Jews he has interviewed are remotely representative – Shabi herself, Shasha, a notorious self-hater in NY, and Shemoelof, who sounds like a nutter.

  • by the way, as to Jews in Arab lands joining the Arab nationalist cause, some did that. But the outcome does not favor shabi's narrative. Eliyahu Sasson, a native of Aleppo [Haleb], was an active Arab nationalist in Syria in the early 1920s and in fact edited a pan-Arab newspaper. However, he became disillusioned with Arab nationalism after not too long and became a Zionist, joining the diplomatic service of the Jewish Agency and eventually becoming one of Israel's leading diplomats in the early years. I don't know his reasons but one can imagine what they were. On the other hand, this same Sasson may have advocated a policy of catering to Arab nationalism and flattering the Arabs as much as possible, for the sake of "peace" of course. I don't know this for certain but it fits what I do know about him. Of course, Mapai had a policy of trying to ingratiate themselves with the Arabs and the British, whereas the farther "left" MAPAM tended to follow the Soviet line on many matters. The Soviets were pro-Arab in the 1920s,1930s and early 1940s. So the MAPAM and MAPAI policies came to the same thing, whatever the different causes. trying to conciliate the Arab nationalists. The British too were encouraging pan-Arab nationalism in the same period and afterwards.

    BTW before WW One there was an Egyptian nationalist movement in Egypt [that is, not pan-Arabist]. Jews took part in this movement and it was interested in cooperating with the Zionists. Eventually, in the 1920s, the British probably shot down or discouraged any such cooperation, and the mainstream of the Zionist leadership was afraid to do anything to cross the British.As I understand the situation.

  • The govt position, as I understand it, left the door ajar for various attacks, such as those of ashrawi and derfner and shabi, by still leaving out two historical issues:

    1- the centuries of fiscal exploitation, humiliation, & oppression of Jews [and other non-Muslims] in traditional Muslim society as mandated by Muslim law, the shari`ah, in the dhimma code.

    2- Arab, especially Palestinian Arab, collaboration in the Holocaust. [particularly of Haj Amin el-Husseini, chief leader of the Palestinian Arabs during the Brit mandate period]

    Both these subjects are very well documented in many books. But the well-indoctrinated like derfner and shabi, etc etc, cannot accept historical truth that does not fit the politically correct narrative.

    The next step for the Israel govt is to take up those two subjects, and thus defend itself from much of the criticism of the story of Jewish refugees from Arab lands. I have to assume that these issues have already been considered on the Israel govt level but some of the usual suspects did not want to go so far as to refer to these two historical facts.

  • "Shabby" kapo Rachel: happy to be paid to betray her own people. Shabi must be a Sephardic surname.
    I hope she has got somewhere else to live in Jordan or Gaza or Egypt or Libya…

  • I had missed the sentence that belies my argument above that she recognizes past suffering.
    She doesn't.

  • I have it on record here that I was opposed to government intervention, because it was due to government intervention to begin with that half a century ago, the history of Jews of Arab lands has been suppressed.

    Let's face the fact: the truth didn't suit Israel's policy then, it does now.

    True. It's all true. What's so obnoxious about it?

    The question for the great majority of Jews from Arab lands, particularly those of us who have personally come face-to-face with mouth-foaming mobs breaking doors and windows of their homes, is this: How else is recognition of centuries of suffering, of the crimes and injustices committed against Jews of Arab-Muslim countries, of truth in history, better served?

    How do those who have been told for decades by the likes of Shabi to shut up and repress their memories because the truth doesn't serve the Palestinian cause going to be able to free themselves of the past? leave their stlory to posterity? Be counted? Exist?

    Certainly not with the help of the Shabees of this world and the so-called "Mizrahi" radicals who have for decades knelt before this generation of Mapainiks.

    There is nothing to expect from those "Mizrahis" who have constantly and consistently used their identity to block the telling of history, thus bowing to the narrative of their Ashkenazi role-models.

    Those "Mizrahi" radicals who, to serve the Memsad even better, have propagated the myth of "peaceful coexistence", have always denied there had been any suffering, have insulted and humiliated those who tried to raise the issue in their forums (it happened to me).

    Well, those Rachel Sabees now faced with documented evidence have back-pedaled.

    Without as much as an apology, they ceased to claim that "there was no suffering" anymore. Their new tactic is to attack the messenger.

    How about an apology, Rachel Shabi?

  • There is also the small matter of the fact that the Arabs of Palestine waged war on their neighbours (and lost), whereas the Jews of Arab-majority countries were minding their own business. Also many Arabs left Israel because they did not want to live under Jewish rule, whereas the Jews in Arab countries were more able to play the part of "harmonious Jewish-Muslim relations". If Jews and Muslims got along so well, what would be the problem in having Jews as rulers of Muslims in 0.2% of the territory of this supposed paradise?


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