Wednesday, May 18, 2016

PCG Radio: When Israelis Learned Hebrew (1948)

In a recent broadcast of Jeremiah Jacques' recruitment radio program, The Sun Also Rises, he encourages people to devote their free time to productive hobbies. In seeking to encourage this he cites the example of how many Israeli Jews learned modern Hebrew in the early years of the State of Israel's existence.
No matter your age you can and should be excellent at a productive habit even if it a pretty technical one like learning a second language. Just think of the example of the modern nation of Israel. It was formed in 1948 and Jewish people from all over Europe and the world immigrated there. And very few of those people spoke Hebrew before that time. But they all moved to Israel and they built a government and decided that all business and education and science and government and everything else would be conducted in the Hebrew language.

So suddenly you have people who previously spoke only Russian or German or English or Polish or French or whatever it may have been and suddenly these people are designated to be the Foreign Minister of Israel or Israel's Ambassador to Spain or all these other high ranking government positions. And they had to attend and participate in meetings that were conducted solely in Hebrew. And many of these people were sixty or seventy years old when they started learning the Hebrew language.

But if you look into this account it's really fascinating because most of them came to command the Hebrew language pretty powerfully within just six months or a year or so. And of course for them it was not a hobby. It was more of a necessity. But I think that example should dismantle a lot of our excuses and a lot of our resistance. (Jeremiah Jacques, "The Value of Hobbies," The Sun Also Rises, May 12, 2016, 13:05-14:38.) 
Israelis speak modern Hebrew. It is not the same as the Hebrew used in the Old Testament. This is due to the simple change in circumstances that since those days many words have been adopted from other languages and sometimes words signifying a particular meaning have changed.

And because those who used modern Hebrew in conversation from the 1880s onward were initially Ashkenazim Jews from Europe it bears characteristics of Yiddish and reflects European languages as opposed to the Hebrew used by Mizrachi Jews from the Middle East.

First of they did not just decide to speak Hebrew after founding the State of Israel. It was not that simple. It was used in schools in the Holy Land from 1886 onward. So by 1947 the Jewish community in Palestine were well versed in using modern Hebrew by the time the State of Israel was established in 1948. When these new immigrants arrived there from 1948 onward with previous restrictions removed there was already a well established community there to teach them modern Hebrew.

Also noteworthy is the way Jacques only mentions by name European languages (Russian, German, English, Polish, French). This ignores the fact that many Jews who lived in the Middle East also migrated to Israel. He even neglected to mention Yiddish, the language used by Ashkenazim Jews all over Europe for centuries.

This indicates that PCG's leaders have projected their own sense of whiteness onto Israeli Jews. But Judaism is a religion that dates back thousands of years long before any modern conception of a white race came to be conceived of by anyone. This suggests the predominantly white PCG leadership supports the State of Israel because they think the Israeli Jews are white like themselves.

And Jacques makes no mention of the mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1947-9. About 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from the State of Israel during the Israeli War of Independence. The expulsion of the Palestinians from Ramleh and Lydda was but a part of the mass expulsion. Naturally with so many Palestinians having been expelled there are varying estimates.
Statistics for refugee figures have been as high as 935,573 according to UNRWA registrations, to as low as 530,000 according to some Israeli sources. The British Foreign Office estimated the total number of refugees to be 810,000 in February 1949 and then issued a revised estimate of 600,000. The UNCCP Technical Office gave a figure of 760,000. The US government estimated a total refugee population of 875,000 as of 1953. [It states elsewhere that the consensus figure is now about 750,000.] (Beyond Occupation, 2011, p. 292.)
The Palestinian refugees yearned to return home but the Israeli government did not let them return.

That is a major reason so many migrated to Israel in those days. Most of the Palestinian Arabs living there had been forced to leave by Israeli forces. Some of the empty houses they had been forced to leave were inhabited by recently arrived immigrants who were approved by the newly established state. Some were left in ruins in parks. The Palestinians who remained in Israeli territory (sometimes by accident) were placed under military rule until 1966.

But PCG's leaders do not view the Palestinians as white like themselves. Could that be a reason why PCG's leaders tend to ignore them?

This anecdote reveals more than what is intended about the PCG leadership's views on this issue.

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