Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sarah Tuttle-Singer and the "Palestinian Narrative"

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Elder of Ziyon and Jews Down Under.}

I find the Jewish Indigeneity Question fascinating.

I recently published an article thanking native American thinker and activist, Ryan Bellerose for advancing the importance of Israel to the Jewish people from an indigenous rights perspective.

Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the New Media editor for the Times of Israel (TOI) and is no fan of Bellerose and Bellerose is no fan of Tuttle-Singer.

That much is certain.

{When these two cross paths they circle one another like a cat facing a pit bull.}

I happen to be - for the moment at least - friendly with both.

Tuttle-Singer recently made Aliyah from Los Angeles and is now raising two children in the Old City. She has taken some pretty terrific photographs from around Jerusalem and seems to have thrown herself into the wilds of Israel with great joyousness.

{Although on certain days, like today - as news of the murder of Adiel Kolman spreads - with considerable sorrow, as well.}

She is also the author of the recently published book, Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered: A Year Spent Living in the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem.

This last Sunday, March 11, Tuttle-Singer, in a Facebook post, linked to her recent piece entitled, On Passover, I’ll pour out wine for Mahmoud, too

It is an interesting  piece.

She describes a dinner that she enjoyed with Muslim friends in the Arab Quarter of the Old City and notes:
Leila doesn’t speak any Hebrew, but Fadi can but he won’t.

“My Hebrew is actually good,” he told me that night we met. “But it’s the principle of the thing.”
The principle of the thing.

What troubles me is that this does not trouble Tuttle-Singer.

She writes:
“I won’t shake your hand,” he tells me when Fadi introduces us. “It isn’t because you’re a Jew or an Israeli, so don’t be offended. I won’t shake your hand because you are a woman – because I am a Muslim man, and we do not shake hands with women that are not our closest relatives or our wives. You know this custom, no? You have it in your own religion.”

We do. And over the years of living here in Israel, I’ve learned when it’s ok to shake hands and when it isn’t.
As a New Yorker and a Californian, I am happy to say that I have never learned any such thing.

As a liberal, I do not condescend to such prejudices.

This insult came from the owner of the restaurant, presumably knowing that he was speaking with a Jewish media person, who also told her with great earnestness:
We are not killers, we are not thieves. We don’t want to hurt you. But we do have a story and that story is our truth, and that story and that truth is we were here first, and you took our land and you kicked us out of our houses and we are yearning to return. (My emphasis.)
In the Facebook thread beneath her link to that post I wrote:
Well, thankfully, history as a field of knowledge does not deal in personal truths. There is no "our truth" or "it is true for me."
Sarah responded with an elegant, "Really?"

Yes, my friend, really.

A Historiographical Snippet

History as a field of knowledge resides at the crux of the Humanities and the Social Sciences and is, thus by necessity, interpretive.

This is why there is always a significant element of subjectivity within even the most scrupulously professional historical narratives. Nonetheless, for a narrative to be a historical narrative it must be grounded in something that closely resembles the truth of the past.

We do not simply get to make up our own "narratives" as the Palestinian-Arab leadership has done, and then insist that ahistorical nonsense be taken seriously.

No field of knowledge works in such a manner because the lights would not go on and the aeroplanes would never fly.

For example, I cannot claim that Richard Nixon was the President of the United States during World War II and then demand that people respect my narrative.

It is for this very same reason that Mahmoud Abbas should not stand up before the UN Security Council, and be taken seriously, as he did on February 20, 2018, and claim that Palestinian-Arabs “are the descendants of the Canaanites that lived in Palestine 5,000 years ago.”

People can say whatever they want, but we are under no obligation to take poisonous nonsense seriously and we shouldn't.

The Discussion

In response, Tuttle-Singer claimed, "narrative can determine whether there is peace or whether there isn't."

I get her point, I suppose, but I must wonder what kind of stable and lasting peace can the Jewish people hope for if that peace is grounded in falsehoods that erase Jewish history?

Furthermore, the notion that the Jewish people stole the land from the "indigenous" Arab population is so obviously false as to hardly need refutation.

Part of what made this online exchange interesting, however, was that a gentleman with significant historical credentials took the lead on Tuttle-Singer's side of the discussion.

He reminded me that the winners write the history books - which, by the way, is no longer the case in the West - and that all history is told from personal perspectives and ideological perspectives and that "Jewish history is a perfect example for a mix of historical fact - and religious-infused fiction."

I then asked this gentleman:
Does any group of people have a greater claim to indigeneity to the land between the River and the Sea than do the Jewish people?
His response is worth quoting in full:
I never participated in the silly game of "who was here first?" and "who was here longer?" Because - independent of who plays it - at its core, it is never an attempt to prove one's own roots in this soil. It is always an attempt to prove that the "other" has less rights, less roots, should be ignored, needs to leave - or at least accept the rule of his adversary. The same applies to the even sillier game of "whose side can claim to be a real people and whose side is an invented people."

What is the desired end-result of these debates? That Mohammed, whose family has been living here for 500 or 1000 years, gets the idea that Jews had a temple around 2000 years ago - and another one before that - and that he and his fellow Palestinians agree that they are not really Palestinians, hand you the keys to the Temple Mount and proceed to pack their bags and leave these parts?  
What is it for the other side? That David, whose family has been dreaming of returning to the Holy Land for 2000 years will agree that he is not really Jewish, but a colonizing occupier, that his rights here have expired long ago - and then proceed to move back wherever his parents of grandparents came from?

Honestly, it is depressingly sad to see so many intelligent minds, who could spend their time improving this country that has so many other problems - wasting it on these decade-old silly debates and attempts to win an argument.

The simple fact is that both sides feel a deep connection to this land and both sides have a right to feel it. So all those intelligent minds should get busy and develop concepts for peaceful coexistence. Those who do - and there are people here who have worked on that for decades despite all the frustrations - have my respect. The others - well - I (and I think Sarah does the same) am trying to convince them to stop being part of the problem - and become part of the solution.
Indigeneity, of course, is not about "the silly game of 'who was here first?'"

Indigeneity refers to the roots of a culture and the people who comprise that culture in all of its branches... even including New York Jews who live in California.

The Jewish people are the indigenous people to the Land of Israel because that is the place where our ancestors forged the beginnings of a multivariant culture and cultivated the Hebrew language and the Jewish religion and those other aspects that bring us together as one.

From a practical standpoint, however, this scholar asked an important question:
What is the desired end-result of these debates?
The desired result cannot be to convince Arabs that they should respect Israel as the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people.

I agree, that this is simply not going to happen... history or no history, because the "Palestinian narrative" will not permit.

However, we can stop equivocating in the face of the enemies of the Jewish people, and their congresses and parliaments and advocates... yes, including even restauranteurs like Reem Assil in my town of Oakland who venerate ideological Jew Murderers.

The truth, of course, is that the "Palestinian narrative" of pristine victimhood is nonsense.

The Jewish people are a people who remain under siege within the very home of our ancestry.

What we can do is bang that truth into the skulls of the European Union, the United Nations, the Democratic Party, and, at long last, the US Department of State.

Until we stand up for ourselves, no one else is going to do so.


  1. "We are not killers, we are not thieves. We don’t want to hurt you"

    BS. LOTS of you do. Almost everyday, one of you proves it with a knife, a car, a speech, a school lesson, a TV show etc. Satan is the Prince of lies; you guys are a close second and gaining on him every day.

    1. Doodad, do you think that this man was knowingly lying?

    2. Yes Mike. Or in denial which is the same thing. The proof is abundant that plenty of Palestinians want to hurt Jews.

      "When asked what should happen next, just 26% percent of Palestinians chose the option of a peace deal, a staggering decline from 45% last June. Thirty-eight percent supported armed struggle, up from just 21% in the previous survey."

      "a July 2017 survey by Palestinian Center of Policy and Survey Research, headed by well-known Palestinian pollster, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, found: “an almost total consensus rejects pressure on the PA to terminate payments to Palestinian security prisoners i.e. convicted terrorists” and “91% are opposed to the suspension of PA payments to Palestinian security prisoners."

  2. Around 2,800 years ago, the Jewish prophet Zachariah (chapter 14, verse 2) predicted that [soon before the arrival of the messiah], all the nations of the world will attack Israel, and capture Jerusalem.

    Though not explicitly stated in the text, it seems likely to me that their goal will be to take HALF of Jerusalem from the Jews, based on the end of that verse, which states that HALF the city will flee into exile, while the rest of the inhabitants will remain where they are.

    Note that before year 1948 CE, Jerusalem was NEVER a divided city; only since 1948 has Jerusalem been thought of a being divided into two halves.

    In our times, the overwhelming majority of members of the United Nations Organization (UN) agree that HALF of Jerusalem should be taken away from Jews and made into to capital of a Palestinian State.

    So how far away are we from Zachariah, chapter 14, verse 2?

    Verse 14 of that chapter states that even [some] Jews will be on the side of the international force that will take HALF of Jerusalem from Israel.
    Does that sound like any Jews who are alive today?

    So how far away are we from Zachariah, chapter 14, verse 2?

    Last but not least, the Jewish prophet Jeremiah (end of chapter 17) warned that Jewish control of Jerusalem is conditional, based on whether-or-not Jews observe Shabbat. Only when Jews observe Shabbat, are they worthy to control of Jerusalem. Since most Jew alive today do not observe Shabbat, we are at-risk for losing control of Jerusalem [may G_d have mercy on the Jewish people].

    How Shabbat-desecration harms Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem:

    Shabbat Praised by Famous Gentile Actress:

    How Alan Dershowitz's Great-Grandfather Decided to Observe Shabbat:

    Derech Eretz for the Shabbat-Table:

    New York Times Editor Takes Sabbath Rest From Social Media:

    1. Mr. Cohen,

      I have to tell you - sometimes to my astonishment - I do get the sense that Biblical prophecy may have more credence than agnostics such as myself give it credit for.

      None of us know what the future holds.

      But the Jews have returned to the Holy Land and muscular powers surround it with malice.

      Peace to you, please.

  3. I own a couple of houses. I am the first and only owner and resident of one of them. Anyone else who ever tries to live there should be... what?

  4. Tougher "tough love." The last Israeli stabbed and killed this weekend was done in by a Palestinian permit holder. Stop issuing them; totally. That will eliminate about 90% of the perps. That restaurant guy? Jews should boycott his business. Boycott all the businesses of guys like him; they don't deserve a single Jewish penny.

    Look at what Trump's tough love has wrought. Almost no support for the days of rage. Other Arab nations are telling Abbas to accept Trump's plan. This is almost unprecedented. It works. Strong horse and all that.


      Arabs/Muslims respect strength and despise weakness.

      Donald Trump = strength

      Barack Hussein Obama = weakness

    2. Obama and pretty much all other presidents empowered the murderous creeps giving in to their demands, extracting NO revenge for their killing of Americans etc. Trump (and Nikki) aren't like that.The pedal is finally meeting the metal. Israel needs to take advantage of it before it changes back.

  5. Yes, Jews are indigenous to the Land, as you say, even if not an indigenous people, any more than French are an indigenous people in France.

    To be indigenous requires a people to be unique, in language, cultural, attachment to land, customs, culture, etc. Let the Palestinians prove they are unique in this regard, not just other Arabs, with whom they share so much. Even if other Arabs differentiate Palestinian nationality, does that create indigeneity? What is Palestinian culture anyway?

  6. Know who your friends are(n't)

    "Several black activist groups are holding a protest on Monday in defense of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a notorious anti-Semite and racist revealed to have close ties to prominent Democratic politicians and activists.

    Black Lives Matter, the New Black Panther Party and the National Action Network are among the groups spearheading the protest, the organizers said in a press release....Rev. Al Sharpton has been NAN’s president since he founded the group in 1991."

    1. Am I allowed to say I hope Farrakhan drops dead from syphilis?
      Nothing says credibility, scholarship and kumbaya like having Farrakhan and Sharpton on your team. Brotherly love, but only for the brothers.

  7. And BTW. Will you Jews stop controlling the weather please?

    "Dem D.C. Lawmaker Says The ‘Rothschilds’ Are ‘Controlling The Climate’"

    Or, if you are gonna keep doing it please send some sunshine and warmth my way. I'm freakin freezing up here. Brrrrrr.

    1. We're a little backed up right now. Give us 50 or 60 days. We'll throw in some flowers, green lawns and leafy trees for free! Thanks for your patience.

      The Satanic Weather Team

    2. LOL! Thanks guys.


  9. John Bolton to replace McMaster. Israel wins again.

  10. OT
    MLB opening day is almost here.

    1. Jeff, ayup.

      Y'know, we'll probably see the Giants once or twice at AT&T Park and the A's a few times at the Coliseum.

      I like both fields for different reasons.

      I like AT&T because it is specifically a baseball park.

      And, hell, it's San Francisco so you can get sushi there.

      The place is cute but, from my NY background, people are too polite in the stands.

      There are very few fights.

      Not so the coliseum.

      The coliseum is rowdy and loud and cheap and bunker-like.

      No sushi to be had, but the people are much more fun.

  11. Is it just me or is there something inherently creepy about parading out kids to lecture and threaten adults?

    1. Doodad, it is definitely not just you.

      To my thinking there are three points.

      1) This is not a student-led movement.

      2) It fails to articulate specific goals.

      3) It is engaging in a witch hunt.

    2. Using kids is just wrong. Terrorists do it. American adults should not.It's despicable and probably, in the long run, harmful. How many of these kids will experience severe depression when their sensationalized "power," comes to nothing. These are dangerous times in a teenagers life. Putting that kind of burden on them (and you could see it in their eyes and demeanor) is just cruel.

    3. Who knows. Maybe Malcolm-in-the-Middle there will end up being a Democratic Party politician in Florida and get filthy rich.

      I don't doubt that from his perspective, or that of the semi-bald girl, that they are acting from sincerety and intelligence.

      But I know a thing or two about student movements and what I can say with considerable confidence is that this not a student movement.

      Student movements are led, as you know, by students.

      Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), of 1960s fame, was not funded and supported by the Democratic Party or the major media or elements of corporate America.

      It was a student-led movement... which, incidentally, split in their 1969 convention between the moderates who opposed Nixon and the war and the radicals, like the Weathermen Underground, who wanted to fight in the streets at home.

      But, in any case, this is no student-led movement.

      What it actually is is a Democratic Party action against the NRA.

      I don't have a problem with that, necessarily.

      I just want honesty and hate to see intelligent people fall for blatant stupidity because it suits their political agenda.

    4. Well you are right about that. The Dems and the media are driving the movement so obviously it is painful. And make no mistake; when the students are no longer useful those two will drop 'em like hot potatoes. Saw a report that the average age of the marchers was 49. hmmmmm

      Hogg is really creepy.

    5. Intelligent people constantly fall for blatant stupidity. It's not so much a question of intelligence (although it is one factor), but rather orientation.
      California neo-Nazi Tom Metzger said back in the 1970's that if you gave him a child he could make him into a Nazi. (OK, tell us something we don't already know.) Well, if you give any malevolent, fucked up do-gooder a child he/she can turn the child into almost anything. Give them classrooms filled with children and they can destroy a society in the interest of improving all that imperfection in the lint in their navels. Jordan Peterson had something interesting to say, in fact several things, regarding destroying reasonably well running complex systems in the name of improving them, i.e., how hard it is to make actual improvements and how easy it is to destroy systems that work reasonably well.
      As for me, I am throughly disenchanted with the Democratic Party and whatever the F it is they think they're doing. They get an F. An F also for a news and culture media that is simply FUBAR. I wouldn't trust them to clean my toilet. I saw a snippet yesterday of the BIG Stormy interview with Anderson Cooper. I was embarrassed for him. I was embarrassed for us - one prostitute asking questions to another prostitute on behalf of an industry of prostitutes.
      The question is not why do gun rights advocates not care about high schoolers, it's why doesn't the Democratic Party, the media and "activists" care about them. I went to high school, you went to high school, we all went to high school, and we had zero expectation of being shot in high school, even though more people had guns than now. I thought radical meant getting to the route of a problem. You want to have a debate about gun control, then have one. But that screwed up kid, one of their own, was made in the image of those who wanted to improve the system, i.e., the product of a dysfunctional family created in a dysfunctional system in turn created with good intentions of the soft sciences built some bullshit ideological assumptions with results that speak for themselves.
      Using a bunch of kids as fodder in an ideological campaign to simply acquire power is about as low as you can go. It's the bottom.

    6. Democrats, especially Democrat politicians are the best and brightest this country has to offer. Witness Susan Rice joining Netflix board old of directors. After making millions as a dedicated public servant, she's on to making tens of millions in the private!

    7. Not sure it's only Democrats going for the money, but it is a telltale sign of things going bad. Compare to Harry Truman.

      P.S. re: may previous post, I am not at all into guns, I just happen to think gun rights is not the primary driver causing kids to shoot up schools.

  12. James Kirchick on the racist, antisemitic Farrakhan and his too cool for school enablers:

  13. "Israeli Technology Able to Make Water From Thin Air"

    But why not destroy Israel, eh? We don't need no stinking water.

    1. Kim Stanley Robinson talks about these things in "Red Mars", Book 1 of his Mars Trilogy. Moreover, the technology sort of exists today to be able to suck molecules out of the air to manufacture simple organic compounds.