Lustick misunderstands ‘Arab’ Jews

Ian Lustick (pictured) might be a US professor of political science, but how much does he know about Israelis that he hasn’t read in Haaretz? Jonathan Tobin blogging in Commentary takes him to task for a long New York Timesfeature on the 20th anniversary of the Oslo accords that can only be described, to quote blogger Elder of Ziyon, as ‘science fiction’. Lustick shows a total misunderstanding of Israelis, and especially Jews from Arab countries, whom he thinks will revert to being Arabs when the Lustick nirvana of the one-state solution rises on the ashes of the state of Israel (with thanks: Eliyahu): 

They (the Israelis) also understand just how dishonest Lustick’s vision of a
post-Zionist Middle East is. The professor claims Israel’s collapse will
lead to an alliance between secular Palestinians and post-Zionist Jews
(those Haaretz columnists) and others to build a secular
democracy. He thinks the large percentage of Israelis whose families
fled or were thrown out of Arab and Muslim countries (a refugee
population that no one thinks to compensate for their losses) will come
to think of themselves as Arabs. He also posits an alliance between
anti-Zionist Haredim and Islamists. He claims Jews who want to live in
the West Bank can be accommodated in the post-Zionist world. All this is

Israeli Jews know the fate of non-Muslim minorities in the Arab and
Muslim world. If Israel acknowledges that all Jews would be evacuated
from a putative Palestinian state it is not because they agree with the
Arab vision of a Judenrein entity but because even those on the left
know the Jews there would last as long as the greenhouses left behind in
Gaza in 2005. Those “Arab Jews” that Lustick thinks will be at home in
the Greater Palestine he envisages know exactly what fate awaits them in
a world where they are not protected by a Jewish army.

The problem with Lustick’s anti-Zionism is not just that it is built
on such blatantly misleading proposals. It is that his determination to
ignore the nature of Palestinian intolerance for Jews causes him not
only to misunderstand why peace efforts have failed but also to be blind
to the certainty that the end of Israel would lead to bloodshed and

Much as it may disappoint the legion of Israel-haters and
anti-Semites, as President Obama reminded them during his visit to the
Jewish state earlier this year, the State of Israel “isn’t going
anywhere.” As difficult as their plight may be in some respects,
Israelis understand that they have no choice but to survive and to wait
as long as it takes for the Palestinians to give up on dreams of their
destruction. Unfortunately, that day is not brought closer by the
decision of a prominent organ such as the Times to give such prominent placement to dishonest pieces that serve only to feed those noxious fantasies of Israel’s destruction.

Read article in full


  • Thanks, Malca, very interesting.I think we need a similar campaign conducted by Jews, but many American Jews do see themselves as Americans of the Jewish faith – a primary obstacle.

  • Sylvia–
    I see what you mean about the Syriac census campaign! [The Census Bureau offers to tailor a category in the 3rd paragraph in this copy of a FAX to the Chaldean for 2000 Committee.]
    — linked from —
    With zealous, continuous and non stop efforts, father Sarhad Jamo succeeded in convincing the American officials concerned, as he held with them several meetings, furnishing them with a comprehensive study about our glorious history and our ancient civilization, and was able to obtain the approval to have our (Chaldean) name be listed within the census form. Later he held several meetings with our Assyrian and Syrian brothers in order to list us as one nation under a unified name, and the name that was agreed upon was: Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac. It has been legalized and approved by the American census bureau's historical document issued on the May 4th, 1999. [15:1 Center for Migration Studies, July 2012]
    In 1990, the Census Bureau
    refused, contending that Chaldeans were a religious group, not an ethnic group, and that the U.S. Congress had forbidden the recording of census data on religion (McKenney, 1998).

  • From the links below, it seems that the Census Bureau re-publishes religious data, but itself refrains from collecting such data. It seems that on the most recent US census, Americans with ancestry from Arab countries can self-identify as Kurdish or Berber, but not Jewish because that is considered a religion, and not an ethnic group. As Sylvia points out, Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac
    is a category. Interestingly, this group is not sub-categorized under Arab.
    ———- Population by Selected Ancestry Group and Region: 2009 and Languages Spoken at Home [religion spreadsheets at the bottom]
    Why Census 2000 asked about ancestry.
    Ancestry data are required to
    enforce provisions under the
    Civil Rights Act that prohibit discrimination based upon race, sex,
    religion, and national origin. More
    generally, these data are needed to
    measure the social and economic
    characteristics of ethnic groups
    and to tailor services to accommodate cultural differences.
    Data about ancestry assist states
    and local agencies to develop
    health care and other services tailored to meet the language and cultural diversity of various groups.
    Under the Public Health Service
    Act, ancestry is one of the factors
    used to identify segments of the
    population who may not be receiving medical services.


    Although religious affiliation can
    be a component of ethnic identity,
    neither the ancestry question nor
    any other question on the decennial census form was designed to
    collect information about religion.
    No religious information was tabulated from Census 2000. Religious responses were all reclassified as “Other groups.”

  • I am sorry to say (in answer to your question about England) the British have long been "friends " with the Arabs. ever since Lawrance of Arabia, they have a romantic image of Arabs.
    Yesterday on BBC I saw a crowd of nuts during a football match screaming out to a player of Jewish origin;"JEW,Jew, Jew"

  • You,re right, polls never have a ,Jewish, category, there are all manner of categories: white British, Asian, Caribbean, but Jews who are none of the above have to vote ' other,. However, I don,t think there are financial implications for different ethnic groups as there are in the States.
    Politically there is no separate Sephardi organisation.

  • It's the old story, Sephardim have never been politically active, and they are not going to start now. The old generation was too busy trying to resettle, and the new generation will try to fit into existing organisations and structures. So Sephardi influence is bound to wane even further.

  • They should wake up in the Us and in Israel because they're losing not only their ethnic identities but also their religious identity.

    I have observed lately that Sephardic Judaism is increasingly erased from the Jewish American landscape sometimes to be presented as a subgroup of the category Orthodox and is about to be made to disappear in the United States as a proud culture. The primary reason is very likely the same(funding). Though in this case there is certainly also the ideological factor, left and right.

    Here is an example of what constitutes the American religious Jewish landscape in the mind of the editors of the JewishPress, who, like for the "Arab" identity in the census, leaves the Sephardi no choice but check "Other":

    The Synagogue I will attend this Rosh Hashana will be…
    Haredi (3%, 16 Votes)
    Chassidesh (3%, 14 Votes)
    Chabad (11%, 53 Votes)
    Orthodox (30%, 147 Votes)
    Carlebach (1%, 4 Votes)
    Liberal Orthodox (4%, 22 Votes)
    The Temple Mount (1%, 3 Votes)
    The Kotel – Orthodox (0%, 0 Votes) The Kotel – Mixed (0%, 2 Votes) Conservative (14%, 70 Votes)
    Reform (8%, 41 Votes) Reconstructionist (1%, 3 Votes)
    New Age (1%, 3 Votes)
    Praying at home, alone (9%, 46 Votes)

    Other (4%, 19 Votes)

    None of the above (10%, 54 Votes)

    Total Voters: 497 Start Date: September 2, 2013 @ 7:47 AM

    Read more at:

  • Sylvia, perhaps Jews should ally with Assyrians as 'Syriacs' – preferable to the alternative!

  • Elyahu

    For whoever is attentive to the news, it is no secret that the US government – some more than others – favor the PLO.
    Beside the fact that the PA have most countries of the Arab League behind the , the start of negotiations is another unofficial way for them to get money. I've heard a former Israeli negotiator say on radio that the PA demands their money upfront to start negotiations.

    Once they get all they want (and not only from the Americans) they'll find an excuse to exit the talks.

  • What’s in a false Arab identity?


    The US government assigns funding to diverse population groups/ethnicities for educational and cultural programs and activities, based on their demographics as per the last census. But federal help that should go to the cultural and communal development of Jews from Arab countries goes instead to… Arab Americans.


    If you or your ancestors originated in one of the 23 Arab countries, even if you do not check “Arab” and check “Other” on the census form (you can't register a religion), you are counted as Arab. That translates into political influence as well (in the case of American Jews from the Mena, lack thereof).

    The Assyrian/Chaldeans in the US have fought and won the right to register in the census as “Syriac” instead of Arab (although unlike the Jews they were identified as Arabs in their former countries).

  • Lustick is in fact a fouler character than he seems if we only know of this repulsive op ed in the NYT. Lustick worked hard at the U of Pennsylvania to get another professor fired. This other prof was Francisco Gil White, a sociologist originally from Mexico and a self-defined "leftist." In his research, Gil White –who considered himself an opponent of US imperialism, like most Latin American academics– discovered information demonstrating that the US Establishment really favored the Arabs over and against Israel, including favoring the Fatah and PLO.
    When Gil White spoke and wrote of this finding in public, Lustick began to look for ways to get him out of the U of Penn. Lustick wrote to various officials against continuing to employ Gil White at Penn. And sure enough, Lustick succeeded. And Gil White went home to Mexico. So people who value academic freedom might want to hold that shameful episode against Lustick.

  • These are people who simply want to ingratiate themselves with the Arab street. If you try to defend Jewish rights from Arab countries, you will immediately be denounced as a Zionist and Israeli propagandist. Trust me, i know….I attempted to join Arab clubs at university and I spoke out about the suffering of Sefardim/Mizrahim. I received extremely hostile reactions. So people like Lustick aren't stupid, they know if they want to maintain their leftist, pro-Arab credentials, they are required to keep quiet about Sefardim/Mizrahim.


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