For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Letter from Sweden

By Israel Shamir

The best place on earth in the summer, Scandinavia. Here, one sees flowery meadows like in the Highlands of Palestine in early spring. Rivers are full of water, a blissful sight for a man from our parched land. Sun is kind and gentle, like we have got in November. People are nice and pleasant, children run around safely, and there are no tanks in sight.

But here also the shadow of Middle Eastern conflict lays on the land. The media market is cornered, main newspapers belong to Mammonites, and they publish their usual drivel, attacking Palestinians and their own Foreign Minister, a very good and brave woman.

Last Friday the leading Swedish daily DN published an inflammatory, hate-mongering piece about Muslims and Palestinians, penned by a Polish Jew resident in Sweden, Jackie Jacubowski. I wrote the following response; it was, however, refused by the DN editors, compatriots of Mr Jacubowski. Still, the only Left-wing paper, Stockholms Fria, published my response, and I offer it to you as late-summer entertainment. The original text of Jacubowski can be found on

By Israel Shamir

(Response to Jackie Jacubowski’s The double message of Yasser Arafat (Dagens Nyheter August 9th 2002)

The medieval seafarers were notorious for delivering home rather dubious titbits from faraway lands. People with dog heads, mares impregnated by Easterly wind, ferocity of natives were reported about, and duly recorded by their land-bound contemporaries. Whenever one leafs through Isidor of Seville or Adam of Bremen, one encounters a picture of the world greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted due to innocence and ignorance of writers. Since then, we learned that one should write about things one knows first-hand. Coherent writing demands a certain expertise.

It is probably not enough to be a Swede to write intelligently about Swede root, or to have dark skin to write a leader on African affairs. Are you still with me? Then you will share my astonishment why DN decided to spare half of its Culture page to splash a piece on Middle East and peoples of Islamic world penned by Mr Jacubowski. From my personal acquaintance with Jackie, this many-gifted man knows about the Middle East as little as the next man. He speaks no Arabic, he never studied the area, he is no expert on Islam. His only connection is that Mr Jacubowski deeply loves Israel, as do many Polish Jews who preferred to come to Sweden rather than to sweat it out in our hot and beautiful country. As an Israeli, I approve and appreciate this feeling. He could write a poem full of love to Israel and/or to Jewish people, and it could be of interest to DN readers, or at least to friends of Mr Jacubowski.

Instead, he chose to write on subject he has no idea about. Jackie tells us what was preached in a Gaza mosque. How could he know? He has no language, no tools to understand what is said, and he is ten thousand miles away. The answer is simple. Careful reading shows that Mr Jacubowski lifted all his examples from a single publication by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organisation ostensibly supposed to bring westwards the Arab discourse. MEMRI sends around its sets of quotes, always hostile to Islam and Arabs, to be picked by the likes of Mr Jacubowski. How do I know it is his source? In his essay, he repeated the MEMRI line calling ar-Riyadh “the Saudi Government official newspaper”, while it is a small private-owned paper.

As the respectable British newspaper, the Guardian, reported, MEMRI is a secretive body managed by Colonel Yigal Carmon of Israeli Military Intelligence. Out of six members of MEMRI staff, three are working (or have been working) for Israeli Intelligence, another one served in the Israeli Army Northern Command, that ran the al-Khayam Torture Prison in South Lebanon.

The non-Army member of MEMRI staff, Brian Whitaker of the Guardian tells us, is an Israeli right-winger Meyrav Wurmser, from the Likud ideological warfare body in the US, the Hudson Institute. While Jackie quotes Amos Oz with sympathy, his main source, Ms Wurmser, considers “leftwing Israeli intellectuals” like Oz, - a threat to the state of Israel.

Information and disinformation coming from such biased sources has to be correctly presented to the reader with full credits to its origin: the hate-mongering right-wing elements within Israeli Intelligence. Mr Jacubowski broke this rule and misinformed the Swedish reader. By innocence or ignorance, he turned this newspaper into another conduit of Israeli propaganda.

His second major source gets full credits. It is the Islam scholar Bernard Lewis, who provides Jackie with some especially virulent conclusions. I must admit this choice shows even more the innocence, or ignorance of Mr Jacubowski. Lewis was tried and found guilty of “hate crime” in France, and was branded as a Holocaust denier. Could such a person serve as reputable source for judging one billion Muslims? Probably not without informing the reader of his very particular views. Surely, Lewis denied the Armenian holocaust, not the Jewish one, but I hope even very devoted to Israel Mr Jacubowski would not distinguish between blood and blood, genocide and genocide. Or would he?.. Astonishingly, this holocaust denier is very popular with Jewish extreme nationalists.

Jacubowski quotes words of an Egyptian preacher against peace. This preacher could compare his notes with the late Lubawitcher Rebbe, one of the most authoritative Rabbinic authorities of modern Judaism, who forbade to sign the ‘godless’ peace treaty with Egypt.

This is the ‘theological’ discourse of the Middle East; in this context Mr Jacubowski could explain to the DN readers the unpleasant sayings of our neighbours. But he preferred to quote out of context, and misled the reader.

One can understand why. It is easier to reject the medieval accusation of Jews killing Christian children, than to deal with horrible amount of real Christian and Muslim children murdered by the soldiers of the Jewish state. But for us, Israelis, it is the fact we should confront: hundreds of Palestinian children, from age of three months to sixteen years, were shot by Israeli soldiers before the first suicide bomber left his base. And we are painfully aware of it. The head of Shabak, the feared Israeli counter-intelligence, a harsh old soldier, not a soft left-wing humanist, expressed his astonishment and horror, speaking on TV News, about ease the Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian children. “Why don’t they refuse such an order?”, said Ami Ayalon. But for Jacubowski, it is preferable to speak about medieval accusations.

As in passim, Mr Jacubowski ‘explains’ to his readers what is al-Nakba. This instant expert says it is “Arabic for the Catastrophe, i.e. the foundation of Israel”. I am at loss, is it an attempt of al-Nakba denial, a disease Jackie got from the Holocaust denier Lewis, or just plain innocence, akin to dog heads in Adam of Bremen chronics? If al-Nakba, in his enlightened opinion, means “the foundation of Israel”, why we do not translate it always in such way? Naturally, al-Nakba is not “the foundation of Israel”, but the horrific ethnic cleansing perpetuated by Zionists in 1948, when 90 per cent of non-Jews (native Palestinians, Armenians, Circassians, Germans, Russians, Greeks) were forcibly expelled, and their property confiscated by the emerging Jewish state. As the publisher of Judiska Kronika, Mr Jacubowski could translate and print in the next issue one of the best known Israeli short stories, Khirbet Khize, by S. Yizhar, “the Israeli James Joyce”. There he would find a blood-curdling description of al-Nakba, never to be forgotten. Jackie thinks that the Swedish foreign minister does not understand the true meaning of Arabs. Alas, as we have seen, he understands it even worse.

However, his lack of understanding can bring grievous consequences. He, and other active “friends” of Israel reinforce the feeling of one-billion-strong Muslim world that it is not only us Israelis, but all the Jews stand against them. Publication of his biased essay entrenches the myth of omnipotent Jews who are able to print such biased stuff in important newspapers from New York to Stockholm.

Presentation of our Palestinian neighbours as “untrustworthy Arabs, full of anti-Semitic hate” is not only wrong. It implies we have no place, no future in the Middle East. A ghetto, even an extremely well armed ghetto can not survive the hostility of neighbours, while Jackie’s message reinforces the ghetto mentality of our people. We, Israelis, are not seeking a new Masada, a new Warsaw Ghetto or the nuclear holocaust. Unlike Jackie, we live there and we would like to stick around. Our Palestinian neighbours are wonderful people, not haters and monsters. Advices of Bernard Lewis and other right-wing hate-mongers already brought us to the most severe crisis of present days. We, people of the Holy Land, should turn to understanding, mutual love and respect, full equality for a Jew and Gentile, as in Sweden. Try and support it, instead of hate-mongering.