Alexander Dolitsky: Setting the record straight on Israel’s history with Palestinians

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By ALEXANDER DOLITSKY

“Palestinian residents are helpless victims in attacks made by leaders,” written by Dixie Belcher and published in the Juneau Empire on Feb. 26, was a perfect and unfortunate example of how historic events and factual truth can be misconstrued by an amateur historian claiming to be an “expert” and a “leader” in the movement for world peace.

Not only did Belcher misconstrue the reality of the Israel/Gaza conflict, she also managed to convolute statistical data and historic events related to this subject.

Let me present several misleading statements from Belcher’s article:

“In 1948 the United Nations gave the country of Palestine to European Jews escaping hundreds of years of pogroms, ending with the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. These Jews were escaping hell.”

This narrative is a complete nonsense and far from the factual truth. Pogroms were brutal government-organized destruction of the Jewish settlements, mostly on the territory of the former Russian Empire (today Ukraine, Belorussia, Poland, etc.). In fact, my grandparents were victims of pogroms. The anti-Semitic practice of pogroms ended in the early 1920s under the Bolsheviks’ rulings of a newly formed Soviet Union in 1922.

In 1948, the Soviet Union and other Soviet East European countries were closed for migration and no Jews could leave those countries to Israel until 1973, after President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger negotiated with the Soviet Union a departure of the Soviet Jews to Israel and to other Western countries.

I left the former Soviet Union in 1977 under the status of a political refugee with the Israeli visa, and then detoured to the United States, arriving in Philadelphia on Feb. 1, 1978. Later, my immediate family joined me in Philadelphia in 1979.

In 1948, after Israel was re-born again under the auspices of the United Nations, most Jews that had settled in their historic homeland (Judeo/Israel) arrived from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and other Middle Eastern territories. Today, virtually no Jews left in those Middle Eastern countries. Many Soviet Jews immigrated to Israel in the 1970s and 1980s.

Belcher falsely stated that, “Gazans have the highest level of education of any other group in the world and the lowest level of illiteracy.”

Really, not Singapore, Finland, or the U.S.? Where did this peculiar data come from? Indeed, from kindergarten on, Gazans teach their children to hate and, eventually, to exterminate their nearest neighbor—Israel—and all Jews worldwide. How can anyone in the right conscious negotiate a peaceful agreement or two-state coexistence with a nation committed to this type of hateful ideology?

Here is another “beauty” from Belcher’s article: “Frustrated with the Palestinian Authority, in 2006 they [Gazans] voted in Hamas, hoping for change. There was never another election. Gazans grew to hate them—realizing that Hamas didn’t care about the lives of the Israelis or the Gazans.”

Indeed, Palestinians voted the terrorist organization, Hamas, to govern Gaza. Even today, some polls conducted by independent organizations suggested that most Gazans support Hamas’ heinous attacks on Israel; given a chance, they will attack Israel again and again, and again…. until its complete annihilation “From the river to the sea.”

Belcher continues her remarkably distorted statements: 

“The Jews, desperate for safety and a country they could call their own, forcibly expelled 750,000 Palestinians to Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries, blew up 500 villages, marching their occupants across the desert to Gaza which they surrounded with barbed wire and soldiers. Now an open-air prison of 2½ million dependent on food, clean water, medicine and fuel from their captors. Their lives have been difficult—no one I’ve met wants to be there. They long to “go home” to their villages.

This narrative is nothing based on the factual truth, and I don’t even know where to start in dismantling it. In fact, the entire Belcher’s column is full of false assertions and a complete lack of understanding of Middle Eastern and Jewish history. Belcher is not alone in her bias and uneducated assertions on this subject. The far-left media notoriously make various historical and statistical errors that lead the public to a divisive conclusion on Israel–Gaza/Hamas wars.

CREATION OF MODERN-DAY ISRAEL

The Arab-Israel conflict in the Middle East is centuries old. The conflict over land is particularly perplexing. Before the time of Christ, the Jewish people lived in their own kingdom; a Jewish-ruled state was located where Israel is today. In 586 B.C., however, the Babylonian Empire defeated Israel.

As a result, many Jews were brought to Babylonian as slaves. Returning to their homeland after years of captivity, the Jewish people constructed a new state, only to then be incorporated into the Roman Empire. Then, in 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. From this time until 1948, Jews had no state.

During the intervening centuries prior to 1948, Palestinian Arabs and the Islamic religion predominated in the territory where Israel had been. The Palestinians, like the Jews, claimed the territory as their own. Thus, at one time or another, Palestinian Arabs and Jews both owned the land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.

This leads to a question, “Whose land is it?” Unfortunately, there is no simple, universally accepted answer.

In 1948, the United Nations proposed that Palestine be partitioned, with Jewish state being created along the Mediterranean coast and Palestinian state inland. It was not a perfect solution, and few people, least of all the Arabs, were pleased with it. But, at least, it was a solution, and both superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, were behind it.

ISRAEL-GAZA/HAMAS WAR

Far-left media and activists accuse Israel of excessive and disproportionate use of force against Gaza/Hamas in defending itself in today’s war initiated by Gaza. Historically, there have never been proportionate wars. None.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including eight battleships.

In response, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, the United States detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 Japanese respectively, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict.

The allied bombing of Germany from 1942-1945 almost completely ruined several major cities (Dresden, Berlin, Cologne), in bombing essential infrastructure and, in the process, killing thousands of civilians. Nearly 27 million Soviets were killed during the war, including some of my relatives in Kiev, compared to nearly 9 million civilian and military Germans killed by allied forces during the war.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the Arab terrorists attacked and killed 2,977 people and injured thousands at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in Somerset County, Penn.

In response, the United States and its allies invaded two countries — Iraq and Afghanistan — and, in the process, disproportionately killed and wounded tens of thousands of civilians and military personnel.

The causes of the Oct. 7, 2023, heinous Hamas attack on Israel are deeply rooted in multi-faceted historic, religious and ethnic issues of global terrorism. Historically, terrorism has always been a complex problem for humanity and for peace-seeking nations. Only united will we win against anti-Semitism and world terrorism.

Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He received an M.A. in history from Kiev Pedagogical Institute, Ukraine, in 1976; an M.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Brown University in 1983; and was enroled in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer in the Russian Center. In the U.S.S.R., he was a social studies teacher for three years, and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he settled in the United States. Dolitsky visited Alaska for the first time in 1981, while conducting field research for graduate school at Brown. He lived first in Sitka in 1985 and then settled in Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987, he was a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and social scientist. He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast from 1985 to 1999; Social Studies Instructor at the Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and has been the Director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. He has conducted about 30 field studies in various areas of the former Soviet Union (including Siberia), Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the United States (including Alaska). Dolitsky has been a lecturer on the World Discoverer, Spirit of Oceanus, andClipper Odyssey vessels in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. He was the Project Manager for the WWII Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease Memorial, which was erected in Fairbanks in 2006. He has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography. His more recent publications include Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi, Ancient Tales of Kamchatka; Tales and Legends of the Yupik Eskimos of Siberia; Old Russia in Modern America: Russian Old Believers in Alaska; Allies in Wartime: The Alaska-Siberia Airway During WWII; Spirit of the Siberian Tiger: Folktales of the Russian Far East; Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends from Chukotka and Alaska; Pipeline to Russia; The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in WWII; and Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers; Ancient Tales of Chukotka, and Ancient Tales of Kamchatka.

Read: Russian Old Believers in Alaska live lives reflecting bygone centuries

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Read: Duke Ellington and the effects of Cold War in Soviet Union on intellectual curiosity

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Read: For American schools to succeed, they need this ingredient

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Read: Beware of activists who manipulate history for their own agenda

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23 COMMENTS

    • Dixie Belcher must have attended the UAF and majored in History under the tutorship of Terrence Cole. What a wonderful place to be mentored and taught the fine art of propoganda, complete fabrication and revisionism. These are the tools of the lefties and Democrats in their pursuit of spoiling the truth in favor of gaining political stripes from the institution that taught them. Mr. Cole was my professor (he’s deceased now) and he religiously practiced the dark art of
      Indoctrinating his students with falsehoods and total BS. This is how Democrats teach their young. Ms. Belcher should consider burping out true facts instead of the propoganda she learned from college history courses.

  1. So this recounting of history makes clear the Bolshevists favoritism. Can we hear a historical account of Trotsky now? How about the Cheka/NKVD and their religious leanings? What was it that happened in the Ukraine in 1932-1933 (what group was persecuted and what group did the persecuting). Are we looking at religious persecution here?

    Why had these pogroms been instituted in the first place? Could it really have started as, and just been a bunch of ENTIRELY innocent people being unjustly persecuted? What could it have been that precipitated that sort of reality? Just to get out ahead of it, it is not anti-semitic to wonder about these things.

    Why skip over Lord Balfour and his declaration? “Balfour, who had known Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann since 1906, opposed Russian mistreatment of Jews and increasingly supported Zionism as a program for European Jews to settle in Palestine. On November 2, 1917, Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild affirming the government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” on the understanding that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” This became known as the Balfour Declaration.” Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/arthur-balfour

    It certainly is complex, and I don’t profess to know the answers. That said, I think this commentary falls far short of “setting the record straight”.

    • North,
      I hope and trust you realize antisemitism, pogroms, and Zionism outdate Trotsky and the Balfour Declaration.

      It’s certainly not antisemitic to wonder about such things, I don’t see anyone here suggesting otherwise nor have I ever seen anyone suggest such. But going into the question with the express idea of blaming Jews for the actions of others against them…well that’s a different story.

      • Steve-O,
        Considering your above conclusion, it occurs to me that you have hit on what this all about. It is the sacrosanct blamelessness of the Jews which you strive mightily to defend here on MRAK, and which is so often insisted upon and bullied onto anyone who dares to question with the slur that they are ‘antisemitic’. Is it not apparent to you that there are many Palestinians who are being blamed for the actions of others against them? EXACTLY what you said here. This vicious double standard stands out like a sore thumb. Here, in this article/commentary, and everywhere.

        There are good and bad in all groups of people. There is not one group of people that is blameless. It is not a good look when any one group insists they are and denigrates anyone who calls it out.

    • To North: I responded to Belcher’s statement, “In 1948 the United Nations gave the country of Palestine to European Jews escaping hundreds of years of “pogroms”…”

      As you know, the government-organized anti-Semitic practice of “pogroms” ended in the early 1920s under the Bolsheviks’ (Soviet regime if you wish) rulings of a newly formed Soviet Union in 1922. It is a chronological impossibility for East European Jews of the 1920s to settle in Israel of 1948, or until the early 1970s (when I left the Soviet Union). I made this point very clearly in my article. Of course, anti-Semitism and other ethnic authorities continued in Europe up to the present time.

  2. Also for the historical record … the very first law the Red Terror aka Bolshevik party passed after murdering the royal family was to make “anti-semitism” a crime punishable by death. Because the Red Terror was Most definitely a Jewish movement.

    • Karl Marx, the founder of communism, was also a noted antisemite.

      The thing about antisemites is that Jews are always too communist, too capitalist, too pacifist, too warmongering, too powerful, too weak, too rich, too poor. The Jew, to the antisemite, is always just too Jewish.

    • Xlnt point. Waste of time though as Dolitsky’s blinded by his own subjective allegiance.

      Here’s a beauty: “This leads to a question, “Whose land is it?” Unfortunately, there is no simple, universally accepted answer”.

      Ah but there is a simple answer and it is that there is no DNA link between modern jews and biblical jews. An inventive and largely disliked pseudo religious group won for themselves expulsion from more countries than all other religious nutters combined and for that they were rewarded with land that belonged to someone else. In an odd twist, the land was given to them by people that didn’t actually own it. Modern jews are fake hebrews w/ no link to the jews of Abraham’s day. That statement of course requires that you accept the nonsensical religious BS that revolves around miracles, slavery, a hero that could’ve easily been written better and oh yeah, divine intervention. Wonder who could’ve invented, penned and sold such dreck?

      ‘https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expulsions_and_exoduses_of_Jews

      Don’t believe me? Consider the hubbub surrounding Netanyahu’s kid’s DNA and the BS effort dear old dad’s undertaken in order to obfuscate matters further.

      Watch for more of Dolitsky’s support of ethnic cleansing and expect him to play the victim, all while blathering in support of his cult of choice.

      Just to be clear; I view this similarly to Rudd. I don’t have any preference for which side wins as neither dog is mine however, it’s crazy to provide either dog advantage when ethnic cleansing is either’s goal. Ask Slobodan Milošević, Ratko Mladic or Radovan Karadžić; this is genocide in a yarmulke.

  3. Al, I’ve met Jews from Israel whose families spoke an ancient form of Spainish.
    Turns out that after AD 70 many jews fled to the Iberian Peninisula, only to be driven back to Israel during the Spanish inquisition of the 1500’s by Tomas de Torquemada .
    I say this because it occurs to me that Jews have occupied their homeland for much longer than just 1948.

    • Absolutely correct. They’ve lived there all along, with the overall population of residence at any given time being composed of fluctuating proportions that were Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, etc. The original UN plan was for a two state solution. At that time the Arab people calling themselves “Palestinians” (Palestine being a derogatory Roman word for Philistine, the hated and ancient foe of Israel) had a country. It was called Trans-Jordan and a sizeable chunk of land adjacent to Egypt. The poor wittle Palestians tried to overthrow the government in Trans-Jordan and were booted from the country (which later became Jordan). Both those guys and the troglodytes in Gaza tried to rub out the Israelis over and over since 1948 and have kept losing land. For much of that time the two state solution was on the table, but the poor wittle Palestinians refused to be content with it. In the early 2000s the Israelis decided to give the two state solution another shot and turned Gaza and the West Bank over to the Arabs, calling themselves Palestinians. Israel has never broken the peace since 1948, they only defend themselves. I have a lot of trouble feeling the faintest hint of sympathy for people who repeatedly and intentionally violate treaties, break their word, and engage in unprovoked attacks on their neighbors. What’s being found out now is that almost every house in Gaza has tunnels under it, or weapons caches. The Palestinians also drove out or killed any non-Muslims living in the area. As far as I’m concerned, Israel should do whatever they feel necessary to end this threat to their people once and for all. Since nothing else has worked since 1948, the only viable solution on the table is complete and total elimination of the threat.

  4. Thank you Alexander! A little resereach in the history books proves Belcher wrong on so maany facts. So the conclusion is there must be an agenda behind this fabrication..

  5. Alexander, I wish you would write about the displacement of “Palestinians” referenced in Belcher’s article, perhaps including why the never returned to their villages. You could also add a bit about 600,000 or so Jews expelled from their homelands during various Arab and attacks on Israel. It would be enlightening, particularly for Ms. Belcher.

  6. Israel was given to the Jewish people over 3000 years ago. It was called Israel until AD 70 when emperor Hadrian renamed it Palestina after the phillistines who were the sworn enemies of the Jews just to stick it to them. Palestine (palestina) was never its own country, never had a government of its own nor a currency. Palestine is an area and considered so until the 40s. Most of the people who live in Gaza are from surrounding countries not indigenous to Israel. If you want to blame Israel for what’s going on in the world, you might want to educate yourself by reading From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters. She set out on a venture to prove Jews did not own israel but found out through her research that in fact Israel has belonged to the Jews for millennia.

    • That gift came from Almighty God, whom also sent forth Ten Commandments for their guidance. On the scale of creation, in no great amount of time an infidelity of the people of Israel, which is to say Jacob’s people, resulted in God’s favor being withdrawn, and foreign nations given the opportunity, and some might say the divinely supported ability to conquer Israel. Babylon’s foray spoken of by Mr. Dolitsky in his article was but one of these instances. It is difficult to understand or appreciate the assertion that ownership of any thing remains once one has been dispossessed of it for not just generations, but centuries. Does she explain exactly how that works?

      Also, conflating a statement that no one is blameless with a desire to blame Israel is deceptive.

      Goliath was a Philistine. One stone, a little skillful work with his own sword, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the field were left the cleanup. The history reveals that David was imperfect. Solomon was also imperfect. It went downhill pretty quick from there. None of them were blameless, they all needed to repent and seek forgiveness, and on a relatively regular basis. Whether or not they did turned out to matter immensely. Difficult to imagine any other methodology working out to well.

      Ultimately, it is the United States of America that I care about. Foreign affairs such as these should be beyond our concern, particularly given the increasingly grave state of things over the past century or so. Let us repent and seek forgiveness, that our land may be healed.

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