Beware of A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing—Mohamed Hadid’s Polemic on His Palestine

The Ashrei is a portion of Jewish prayer: Happy are they who dwell in Your house, Safed, Israel, (photo credit Levinsky).
The Ashrei is a portion of Jewish prayer: Happy are they who dwell in Your house, Safed, Israel, (photo credit Levinsky).

Details Details

Say there was a shocking Instagram post by a man whom you don’t really know other than he is a tremendously rich celebrity, but the content of the post is so disturbing that it’s been discussed in many different news outlets. You know the one I’m talking about, it showed a caricature of an IDF soldier pressing against a Palestinian man’s neck while embracing an American cop who’s choking a black man with his knee.

That image was the impetus for learning more about the man behind the post, perhaps to understand his motivation for publishing the type of material that does nothing to promote peace and dialogue but instead, it fixates on historical revisionism that ascribes to Israel the world’s afflictions and fuels the nakba (catastrophe) narrative. It portrays Israel as a colonialist entity, an apartheid state, and Israelis into persona non-grata worldwide. The story of the Palestinian refugees and their right of return has a unique way of enlisting the most ardent of activists who embrace an all-or-nothing approach, and their hostility is especially selective – their main focus is castigating Israel and with the help of academics, students, and celebrities the lines are blurred between mainstream and extreme opinions. What is going on here? Is it really all about moral outrage over Israel’s existence?

Who Is He and Who Cares

Mohamed Hadid is an L.A. based celebrity real estate tycoon, known for developing a string of Ritz-Carlton hotels, as well as impressive buildings across the Middle East, including high-end residential homes, and the largest infinity pool in the world! He’s also the father of two famous models, Gigi and Bella Hadid. He likes to vilify Israel just as much as he enjoys building grotesquely opulent mansions for the rich and famous. He may even like the former a little more than the latter. Also, he has a lot of followers, around one million, so do his children who are often featured in his posts. Gigi Hadid has 54.8 million followers and together, this family has a vast influence on social media. Hadid’s identity politics is conflated with unrelated grievances and weaponized with intersectionality dogma – currently, an attempt to intersect the Palestinian struggle with the Blacks Lives Matter cause. The implication of that caricature was to instill the idea that Israelis teach Americans how to kill Black people through their exchange training programs, which they have named “deadly exchanges.” Just like that, Israel/Jews were dragged into Black Lives Matter as part of the problem that stands before the Black community in America.

Later, Hadid deleted the post and issued an apology, but that apology was soon deleted too. Regardless, the damage was done and he knew it because the internet is far-reaching. His posts and interviews are loaded with inconsistencies, which easily adapt themselves to the context of his grievances against Israel and imply the destruction of Palestinian identity. He’s a master of anti-Israel propaganda – the last sentence in most of his posts declares his wish for peace and harmony between Palestinians and Jews, while the content of his posts nurtures conflict. Oh, he’s good. He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing — Baaaa baaaa baaaa.

For the purpose of writing this article, I had to contextualize each one of his claims in order to present my readers with a broader approach to historical events and allow them to decide the veracity of his allegations. There was a lot of material to cover, the reason I have divided this essay into two parts. Part Two will be available to read next week.

A recent post by Hadid on Instagram featured an illustration of an Arab-Palestinian girl on a cigarette card, dating back to the early days of the British Mandate in Palestine – around the 1920s. “Palestine” is printed under the girl’s image and on the back of the card there’s a description of Palestine; it says there are 700,000 inhabitants, only 80k are Jews and the rest are Mohammedans. A couple more cards featured other illustrations of men that Hadid would like you to believe are Arabs (but Jewish attire looked very similar), and an explanation of how they greeted each other with a convivial keif halakak salutation. It doesn’t matter whether the men on the card are Jews or Arabs; the truth is that there were Arabic-speaking Jews in Palestine as well. Within the same post he added other photos showing a collection of stamps with, what else but, “Palestine” printed on top. Ahah, okay, very nice and? What’s the point?

A Love for Israel and Its History?

Um, nope – not even close. Because once I read the accompanying comment, I understood that it was another one of his fantastical depictions of His beloved, lost/stolen idyllic Palestine.  He emphasized that even the British had recognized that Palestine indeed existed. But the real message for his followers: since Arabs were illustrated on the cards, we have more proof that Arabs – not Jews – had inhabited Palestine.

Evidence to the Contrary

Unfortunately, there were also plenty of homegrown Jewish-Palestinian cigarette companies that produced tobacco at the time, but for the purpose of debunking Hadid they have been very useful. What do you know “Palestine” was also printed on Hebrew ads that promoted tobacco or cigarettes for public consumption. Let there be no mistake before 1914 there were perhaps half a million inhabitants in the region. Palestine was an underdeveloped backwater – part of the Ottoman Empire and the Arabs had no autonomous political or administrative status. Among the diverse population of the land, there were also Jews, descendants of an old Jewish community that had survived there for centuries. Jews of Safed, in particular, had an almost undisturbed presence since the time of the Maccabees. But Safed had reached its zenith during the 15th century when many Jews, including illustrious scholars, had arrived after the Spanish Inquisition. Generally, their lives were miserable; they were dhimmis, second class subjects, and over the years their numbers had dwindled due to expulsions, murderous riots, and systemic oppression that kept them destitute for centuries. When Napoleon Bonaparte was in Palestine, in 1799, he noticed the disparaging treatment of Jews. He published a proclamation that also appeared in the French Moniteur newspaper whereby he recognized the Jews’ unique position of being ousted from their own country, and for thousands of years they were subjected to foreign rule that deprived them of their land. But their name and national identity remained intact. There were many similar accounts from travelers across Palestine:

“On the way to prayer at the Western Wall of Herod’s Temple, Jews drew the spite and malice of the resident Arabs, who deliberately scattered broken glass along their path. The Wall itself (the most sacred spot of Judaism) was fouled up with urine and feces, a dumping ground for garbage and sewage” (Robert  S. Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, p. 690).

Historian David Landes said the following about the Jews of Palestine:

“Their condition in pre-Zionist Holy Land (and in Islamic lands in general) was comparable to that of Blacks in the post-Reconstruction American South” (Robert  S. Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, p. 690).

Palestinians blame Zionism for the deteriorating relations between Arabs and Jews in the region. But Arabs and Jews have always had a patchy history; you go as far back to Maimonides’ Epistle to Yemen (written in 1172) and find this:

“Remember, my coreligionists . . . the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us . . . Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they“ (Hillel Hallkin, Yehudah Halevi, P. 295).

A model of ancient Jerusalem, Israel Museum (photo credit Levinsky).

Some Days Were Easier Than Others

Similar to the Jews’ experience in the diaspora, in Palestine, there were periods of tolerance and reasonable calm that enabled the Jewish community to thrive, they also repopulated the cities of Safed, Jerusalem, Hevron, and Tiberias – the four holy cities. Under Ottoman rule (1516-1917), many local Arabs became pashas, rulers who enabled the Turks to better control their empire. One such appointment was Sheik Daher al-Omar; he was one of the good guys, and he ruled the Galilee for a stretch of time between the years 1740-1775. During that time he encouraged Jewish settlement in areas under his control, namely Safed, Haifa, and Acre. So Jews were there, all the time, and despite their status of dhimmis, and the hardship that this status entailed, they also managed to gain a few key positions in government by serving their Muslim governors. Chaim Parchi was an advisor to Ahmad al-Jazzer, a Turkish governor, but no need to applaud Ahmad’s more liberal approach towards Jews, for he also persecuted Parchi, gouged his eye and sliced the tip of his nose off. More appointments were made in 1838 when Europe began showing a renewed interest in the region and the first British Council opened its doors in Palestine – they appointed Chaim Amzaleg as the deputy British consul of Jaffa, and Mordechai Segal was vice-consul in Safed.

Hadid is careful to circumnavigate the charge of denying Jewish history by noting Sheik Omar as a benefactor of Jews – he mainly likes to emphasize his familial connection to the sheik for more prestige, no doubt, but also to help strengthen his unique rendering of historical facts. He refers to the sheik as his great-great-grandfather, though Hadid may need to recalculate since the sheik lived between the years 1690-1775. According to Hadid, on the one hand, there were Jews in Palestine, but then again by the strength of these cigarette cards, maps, and various documents, there were no Jews at all until the advent of Zionism. And if you happen to harp on the idea that Jews were there too, look around, evidence of our life in Israel is not a matter of debate, it’s everywhere you step, sit, stand, breathe, well, Hadid’s posts allude to the fact that Jews were never perceived as the true inhabitants of Palestine, not even by the British. And what do you know, this serves to strengthen his ideological agenda of promoting his claim of a displaced person and assailing Israel for infringing the rights of 5 million Palestinian refugees.

Evidence of our past in an archeological tour of Khirbet Qeiyafa, a Judean city overlooking the Elah Valley (photo credit Levinsky).

If Hadid Were To Adopt a Broader View of History

He could show images of Hebrew-language newspapers that circulated in Palestine at the time, such as Havazeleth, Halebanon, Hazvi, and Hashkafa. I wouldn’t expect this of Hadid but it’s only fair to mention the names of Jews who were involved in the development of Palestine such as Rabbi Chaim Abulafia who built the Etz Chaim synagogue and the Mashmia’ Yeshua yeshiva in Tiberius. His involvement in the development of Tiberias had led to the renewal of Jewish settlement, and Jews became the majority in Safed until the turn of the twentieth century. Hadid mentions Abulafia but only to emphasize Sheik Omar’s goodwill towards the rabbi, and credits the sheik with building the synagogue himself. No doubt that without the sheik’s help the rabbi may not have been able to encourage as many Jews to settle in Tiberias.

How about Moses Montefiore? He visited Palestine in 1838 and was appalled by the destitute state of the Jews. His life’s work involved the promotion of economic growth in Palestine; he financed the first printing press, textile factories, agricultural colonies, and built Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish settlement outside the walls of the Old City. There were many Jews who took part in the development of Palestine by erecting hospitals, clinics, factories, and schools years before the British government issued the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that publicized their support for the establishment of a national home for Jewish people in Palestine. And Arabs were privy to all of these developments and benefited from more jobs, schools, better healthcare, and transportation. Some of these enterprises were also the result of Jewish-Arab collaboration. This new infrastructure led to more Arabs immigrating to Palestine, and many choosing to live in cities like Haifa where their population had increased by eighty percent at that time period.

I have the same map hanging in my home too (photo credit Levinsky).

In another post, he showed an old map of Palestine and wrote: “Let’s start. With history 101 geography 101 world map 101 reading 101” (Instagram, July 1, 2020, accessed July 8, 2020.

I don’t think any of us are denying that the country existed and still does! But like an addict who knows that it’s best to quit, stay away/refrain because the next time you may really get hurt, I ignored the warning signs and dove right in for another look. In the following post (Instagram, June 29, 2020, accessed June 29, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CCByeyCHfJL/), Hadid featured a photo of a book titled Pressed Flowers From The Holy Land. Interesting choice for a book when trying to push for that predictive narrative – that Palestine had existed forever as an Arab-Palestinian country only.

View this post on Instagram

You can Take our land and force us out with your mighty army with the help of many mightiest of armies. you can take away our villages and destroy and cut our olive trees and send us to refugee camps but you can never ever take our history culture food and Heritage and take our Palestine off the maps stamps cigarette labels and books that are written by American with the American Consulate in Jerusalem Palastine. Before the occupation of Britain on our land Palestine. what is the name was used on all the stamps and the cigarettes oranges and olive oil came from the holy land Palastine. Annexation of More land and the Devastation of more Palestinians is not the way to peace and harmony and coexistence. In the pictures. Real pressed flowers of Palestine Collected by an American Christian Reverend who visited Palestine in 1896.. lists a whole range of native flowers of Palestine and their reference to biblical times. To my kids that I love. @mariellemama @lanzybear @gigihadid @bellahadid @anwarhadid

A post shared by Mohamedhadid. (@mohamedhadid) on

You can Take our land and force us out with your mighty army with the help of many mightiest of armies. you can take away our villages and destroy and cut our olive trees and send us to refugee camps but you can never ever take our history culture food and Heritage and take our Palestine off the maps stamps cigarette labels and books that are written by American with the American Consulate in Jerusalem Palastine. Before the occupation of Britain on our land Palestine. what is the name was used on all the stamps and the cigarettes oranges and olive oil came from the holy land Palastine. Annexation of More land and the Devastation of more Palestinians is not the way to peace and harmony and coexistence . .  .

Ripples of laughter from Jaffa to Tel Aviv (photo credit Levinsky).

Why do I get the feeling that it’s Hadid who is trying to wipe Israel off the map, and implant the notion that it was born in sin? Apart from Israel’s landscape, where every corner is saturated with Jewish history – the themes of our literature, prose, and scriptures are ingrained with images of Jerusalem, the Holy Temple, and our sages. But war, defeat, and expulsions have also pervaded our history – altogether, these details have created a compelling story of Jewish life that has become the basis from which two more religions had developed their beliefs: Christianity and Islam. The evidence of our presence in Israel is overwhelming, we have the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the Cairo geniza, the largest archival finds in history made up of sacred texts and prayers and the works of Jewish philosophers, poets, rabbinical responses, community records, legal briefings, contracts, and letters that were discovered in the 1000-year-old Ezra synagogue in Cairo (Hillel Halkin, Yehudah Halevi, p. 72). These sources have helped us thread our history into a cohesive narrative that affirms a continued Jewish presence in the Holy Land/Palestine/Israel.

Hadid is not interested in evidence of Jewish life in Palestine. In the following post (Instagram, March 30, 2020, accessed July 8, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/B-YSm_YnmG4/), he showed a photo of the Dome of the Rock with a caption that says that it’s revered as the “beating heart of Palestine”:

We are loosing our country day by day. Month by month year by year. Loosing our own food day by day naming the streets different names. Replacing Palestinian Houmous with Israeli Houmous. My heart is broken but they will never break our rights to our olive trees and our land. The world will open its eyes and see the right from wrong …they can’t kill us all we are in a different world .. you can’t keep your eyes closed for these atrocities. The world will wake up one day. But at the same time we live In the largest open prison in the world Gaza The blood seeps below the 30 feet cement wall. #gaza will stand tall.

A snippet of Jewish life in Safed, Israel (photo credit Levinsky).

Hold on Habibi, Wait a Sec

Such a load of bubkes, burekas, blinches, whichever one easily rolls off your tongue. My mom and her siblings also have Palestine written as their place of birth in their birth certificates, and such is the case with every single person who was born there prior to May 14, 1948. Their banknotes and coins had Palestine printed and engraved, everything did. In the early days, Arabs in Palestine were not referred to as Palestinians, they were Arabs. Only when the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) rose to power in the mid-’60s, the Arabs adopted “Palestinian” as their nationality. This included Arabs living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. But there was never a Palestinian-Arab nation per se because we already know that Jews had always lived in Palestine. It’s bizarre to have to explain this so many times, but Jews had resided in Palestine before the rise of Islam and during the rule of Islam. Before their national consciousness took root, Arabs of Palestine always regarded themselves as part of Greater Syria. Their precise stance towards Palestine was documented during the 1919 First Congress of Muslim-Christians Association that had met in Jerusalem in order to choose their representatives for a Paris Peace Conference. They stated that they did not differ from Syria in terms of their national or religious, linguistic, natural economic and geographical bonds.

Hadid repeatedly pushes for the idea that Israel has wiped Palestine off the map, and to prove his point he commented on a correspondence between his father and the Department of Education in Jerusalem (Instagram post dated April 14, 2020, accessed July 6, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/B–ouPBHLmV/):

These are documents from 1945 and 1946 regarding my Father, Anwar Mohamed Taleb Hadid. These documents should serve as more proof that both the state of Palestine and Palestinians existed prior to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Our history has been erased and our existence is in dire straits . . . Don’t take our culture food and dignity. And yes. I am unapologetically proud Palestinian Muslim Arab American.

Al-Bahar mosque, Jaffa, Israel, (photo credit Levinsky).

Let Me Wipe My Glasses Clean

Didn’t make a difference. He did write those words even though Palestinians have been the ones to wipe Israel out of their consciousness while Israel’s skyline is dotted with mosques, and their call to prayer, with the aid of megaphones, blasts all across Israel. If you’re the type who needs a daily siesta, double-pane windows are strongly recommended. Palestinian students learn that Israel has no right to exist and that all Jews must be expelled. In fact, many Palestinian educational programs and institutions are named after martyrs as well as Nazi collaborators. In their revised textbooks, the Jews are only mentioned up to the Roman period after which they do not exist, but most books just don’t include our history at all. Forget about Jerusalem, in their textbooks, a city built by Jews for Jews has nothing to do with Jews. How shocking that Palestinian academics also hold the belief that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a true account of history. Academics believe this perversion of history! And these are the types of academics who are then invited into university campuses all over the world to lecture about the Palestinian struggle. They also assert that the Holocaust is a malicious fabrication; we have Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who questioned the number of victims in the Holocaust in his 1982 doctoral dissertation. He said that in order to achieve greater gains after the War, Zionists had inflated the number of Holocaust victims.

An Arab boy walking his horse, Acre, Israel, (photo credit Levinsky).

Hadid’s words mimic the same widespread hostility towards Israel, albeit he employs a more “diplomatic” way to promote his ideas. He does not share an Islamist worldview in support of violence, but he lacks self-criticism and misinforms his public. All one has to do is read the comments he receives from Instagram followers to see the destructive outcome of his posts. Often he is pressured to delete an inflammatory statement like the one where he compared Israelis to Nazis, after which he issued his standard apology. But too late, damage done baaaa baaaa baaaa.

Hadid is in Great Company

Mahmoud Darwish was a modern Palestinian poet who dressed his vitriol against Israel in prose:

“get out of our land and out of our sea/Out of our wheat and out of our salt/Out of our wound out of everything/And get out of the terms of memory/Oh passers in passing words” ( Muna Abu Eid, “Mahmoud Darwish: Literature and the Politics of Palestinian Identity,” p. 140).

Similar to Darwish, Hadid would like you to believe that Palestine has always been the beating heart of the Arab world, even though a review of Arab history will show otherwise. When Jerusalem fell under Jordanian control in 1948, the city remained neglected for almost 20 years; Jews were expelled from the Jewish quarter and no Jew could pray at the Western Wall, yet just like in prior occupations not one single Arab leader regarded Jerusalem as their capital! When they pray, Muslims face the Ka’aba – a  scared cubic monument in Mecca. Why not face Jerusalem? During the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem, about 58 synagogues were destroyed, some dating back hundreds of years. Their precious religious artifacts looted, and Jewish graves that rested atop Mount Olives for over 2500 years were desecrated. By the time the Jordanians had annexed this territory, Christians were also targeted; they restricted the number of Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Bethlehem and imposed mandatory teaching of the Quran in Christian schools. Jordan proclaimed Islam as the official religion in Jerusalem.

Hadid presents his people as innocent bystanders, but nothing could be further from the truth. They launched an aggressive war against the Jews while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of the constantly expanding infrastructure that improved their everyday lives dramatically. They were also invited to take part in joint Jewish-Arab projects; those included the integration of both Arab and Jewish students, the development of the port of Jaffa, nurturing the association of Jaffa orange-growers, and drainage of the marshlands just to name a few successful collaborations. But there were plenty more. Sadly, the negative forces outweighed any good that presided between Arabs and Jews. Haj Amin al- Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and a prominent political figure in the Arab-Palestinian landscape, was known for his obsessive hatred of Jews. He played an instrumental role in instigating the Arab public and silencing anyone who opposed his goals for a pan-Arabist empire. The Arabs sustained an atmosphere of terror with the aid of irregular Arab forces from neighboring countries while the Arab Higher Committee organized strikes, mobs, and riots that destroyed commercial centers, instilled fear, disrupted Jewish life all over the country and caused much bloodshed.

We can delve deeper into history, but that doesn’t change a thing. This tug-of-war spanned many centuries; the Jews were tossed to the sidelines most of the time and lived at the behest of Muslims who took full control of every single structure around the Western Wall. Despite these hardships, Jerusalem remained at the center of Jewish hearts. Nothing could sever their bond with the Holy Land without which Judaism has no basis. So they persevered even though they were subjugated to Arabs and Islam from the time the Arabs had conquered the Levnat, but Hadid and his ilk will have you believe that Israelis are an evil imperialistic lot who are engaged in theft of their land, homes, culture, and food, and that Zionism has been an ongoing threat to their religious and national status quo. Hadid will never mention that when Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt controlled Gaza, Arab-Palestinians were not offered the right for self-determination. In fact, Egypt never offered citizenship to the residents of Gaza and kept them under oppressive military rule.

David Roberts lithograph, Jerusalem, The Golden Gate, 1839 (Levinsky collection).

Palestine before Islam

Hadid is relentless; he has revised Arab and Jewish history to such an extent that it’s impossible to know where to begin in terms of debunking his fables. He repeats the idea that by virtue of the name Palestine, theirs, is the original, true connection to the land. The facts are such that the ancient Philistines, from which the name Palestine was derived, were a seafaring nation that existed thousands of years before Palestinian nationhood evolved. They were Israel’s enemies at the time it was the Kingdom of Israel and Judah, and the coastal plains which they controlled were known as Philistia. The name stuck even when Assyrians then Babylonians took over the region consecutively. Under Roman control, the area included Syria and they called that territory Syria Palestina. When the Arabs conquered the land, the Roman appellation was adopted by them as well.

Hadid would like you to believe that Palestinians were there from biblical times, but their presence in Palestine has another explanation. Between the years 1775-1804, Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzar, the Bosnian refugee who rose to power under Ottoman rule, encouraged immigration to the Galilee; he invited Syrians and Lebanese to join him in Palestine. In 1820, Mohamed Ali, the pasha and viceroy of Egypt between the years 1805-1848, temporarily occupied Palestine. He brought with him tens of thousands of soldiers and falachim (peasants/farm workers). Today’s Gazans are probably the descendants of Ali’s soldiers and farmers, so are the Arabs of Jaffa. But Palestinians are also the descendants of different nations that had occupied Palestine over the years, people who migrated from North Africa, and the Golan. Hadid knows this very well, he just banks on the ignorance of others; it’s a matter of cognitive anchoring, you repeat something enough times and it becomes the truth.

I’m a Jew from Timbuctoo, I’m a Jew from Timbuctoo, I’m a Jew from Timbuctoo. Wait really? Am I?

Jewish history weaves through narrow alleyways, Safed, Israel, (photo credit Levinsky).

Just when you think that you have figured out Hadid’s background, you read another post or find another interview with a new rendering of his past. A very interesting facet of the Palestinian plight is that rarely does anyone dispute their particular claims, and when they are caught lying it doesn’t even matter. Such was the case with Dr. Edward W. Said – an esteemed scholar and literary critic at Columbia University, and a leading advocate of the Palestinian cause. Commentary magazine published an article about Said and the story that he promoted for decades of his tragic displacement by Israel, this became the core of his identity in America. But he lied about all of it. His family had immigrated to Cairo, Egypt, in 1935. He lied to his students, colleagues, and the rest of the intelligentsia that fawned at his feet. (Justus Reid Weiner, “My Beautiful Old House and other Fabrications by Edward Said,” September 1999). PLO chairman and president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, also lied about his family’s refugee status.

Do you think anyone has batted an eyelid over these false claims? No. Nothing more than a dismissive hand gesture, because the details don’t matter as long as they reinforce their narrative against Israel. Is it any wonder that so many other Palestinians have done the same?

Another Instagram post (June 7, 2020, accessed, July 8, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CBKX9-qnvI3/) showed Hadid sitting outside a building in Safed, Israel, with the following details:

My Family’s Home in Safad .. when we lived in Tunisia .. I asked my Father,, But why father you took a Jewish family from a boat full of refugees from Poland in Haifa, Into our Home in SAFAD Palestine? . .. I would never forget what he said .. He reminded me that Jewish people and their destiny mattered to Him.. did that mean. Jewish life Mattered to my father then in 1946 .. and his friends that took other families into there homes as guest. But we became refugees in 1948. 1949 to Syria to labanon to Tunisia To The USA. Jewish life mattered to us then .. hope one day will see the light to Have Palestinian life matters .. the day will come for coexistence In peace, respect .. Love you Babba Anwar Hadid ..

From one of his followers:

“Wait, So are you saying that your father willingly became a refugee just to give up his home to Jews?” (Aphrodisiac218).

“no not willingly.. they locked us out of our house. We couldn’t enter. We we not even allowed in to get our most private articles and or clothing” (mohamedhadid).

This post will be analyzed in-depth in Part two of this essay, but for now, keep Safed in mind as you read a quotation from N Lifestyle magazine (Emma Day, “Mohamed Hadid says his children ‘know they’re Palestinians’ in Harvard Speech” April 8, 2019):

I’m just a simple man from Nazareth, and I’ll always be a simple man from Palestine,” and he also said this about visiting his childhood home in Nazareth: “I went to the same bed I was born in, my mother was born in that bed also. Hopefully I can take the kids there one day.

The Talmud mentions that in Safed a fire was lit to announce the arrival of a new Jewish month (photo credit Levinsky).

In Regardie’s there’s a lengthy expose’ about the rise of Hadid from refugee to real estate mogul. Nazareth was mentioned as his birthplace, and at the time his father taught English at the University of Jerusalem. Two months after his birth his mom left for Damascus where they stayed with her mother, Hadid’s grandmother. While there, Israel declared its independence, and upon their return a few months later they found an empty house because his father was expelled from the country.

“My mother loaded our possessions on a donkey and walked to Damascus,” says Hadid. “She thought my father was dead” (Harry Jaffe, “Unmasking the Mysterious Mohamed Hadid,” March 1998).

But did he not tell one of his followers that they were not allowed in their home, and could not retrieve their possessions? In one post his family home is in Safed, and in another, he’s from Nazareth. In the next version of his past (Instagram, accessed July 8, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CAPboAfnYzF/), he places himself in the middle of a massacre:

Yes I was in these Trucks and donkeys and the tents. I was just few months old. We had to flee after our Polish Europeans guest locked us out out of our home .. while ( the Safad massacre (google it ) my sister was just less than two years old ..happened just outside the Hadid moslem arabs quarters .. Al sabagh family Arab Christian ..Al khoury family Arab Christian. We all got locked out ..of our homes .

A Little Bit Confused?

And for those of you who say big whoop, who cares if he’s off by a month here, a month there, or whether he’s that little baby carried out of Safed, or whether he lived in Safed, or Nazareth, or kicked out of his home by Jewish refugees that his family had saved from the Haifa shore – I say that it matters. It matters because the truth is that not all Palestinians were expelled from Israel, and even though I believe that both sides deserve to live in peace, and there needs to be an immediate solution to the Palestinians’ hardships, this does not give them a license to fabricate their history. The number of Palestinians who left by virtue of fright and flight, or were driven out by Arab leadership, or expelled by Israel ranged between 300,000-700,000 people, depending on the sources that you read. But one thing is clear, there was never a masterplan or policy to expel the Arab population from Palestine, and that can be verified by looking at archives that belonged to the Haganah, IDF, and Israeli cabinet deliberations, which are all open for review.

On November 29, 1947, the UN voted on a partition plan that divided Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. The Arabs rejected it and the Jews accepted it even though this new arrangement meant they would only receive 12% of the land that was originally promised to them.  Today, 5 million Palestinians demand the right of return. It’s complicated, and I don’t know of the creation of any other country in the world where innocent people had not been hurt in the process. One wrong does not excuse the other, but give Israel a friggin break already. Do you think that Jews who were expelled or fled from Eastern Europe or Arab lands have the right of return? Their numbers were in the millions back then – one million alone from Arab countries. And if we were to attribute to them the same mathematical equation that has numbered Palestinian refugees at 5 million, ours would be a much larger number that would include all of Israel and most other Jews in the diaspora. For years, Israel has explained that allowing these refugees the right of return would threaten the state’s existence.

Historian Flavius Josephus wrote about the Jewish soldiers in Sepph (Safed) during the war against the Romans (photo credit Levinsky).

It’s Not That I’m Persnickety

Autobiographical assertions of the past can indeed get hazy, but you decide whether Hadid employs a little bit of amnesia and hyperbole to better serve the bigger metaphor of displacement and injustices suffered by Palestinians. Words have consequences as we’ve seen in the long history of hate towards Jews; Jewishness was perceived as a hostile idea in the past and continues to be the prism in which Israel’s critics see the world. Hadid seduces his readers with impassioned iterations of personal loss and demonizes Israel at every opportunity – this resonates with a wide swath of society that sees Israel as a warmongering rogue state and an agent of Western imperialism. When Hadid invokes his familial association to Sheik Daher al-Omar, he accrues a great deal of moral authority to further help his rendering of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and bolster his crusade of redress for all Palestinian refugees. For me though, his grasp of historical events tends to obfuscate his message of a long-lasting peace between Jews and Arabs.  In EniGma magazine (Yasmine Shihata, “Mohamed Hadid The Palestinian Patriarch & Pioneer”) Hadid had this to say:

My great grandfather descended from prophet Mohamed, and just lately they sent us a  document that shows our lineage. It’s very important to understand that Palestine was there forever; they tried to take it away and they probably will succeed. Most of Palestine is now Israel and I don’t think they will ever allow a two-state solution .

Levinsky Street has an intimate market setting that features a melting pot of cuisines (photo credit Levinsky).

You know what, I’m a direct descendant of King David, so I know the frustration involved in being treated like a plebe when there is royal blood running through your veins. To date, there is even a Levinsky street, Levinsky Spice Market, and the Levinsky Teachers Seminary that carries my family name!

Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing – baaaa baaaa baaaa

*Next week, I will publish Part Two of this essay and take an in-depth look at Hadid’s portrayal of historical events in Israel, and analyze the lives of Jews and Arabs in Safed in the years leading up to the War of Independence.

About the Author
Ilana was born in London, England, and currently resides in Camarillo, California. She graduated from Manchester University with an LL.B in 1991. Her writings include the play “A Recipe for Hummus,” and her novels "The Diary of a Wrinkle" and "East End Dreams." "Age Schmage" is a little book intended to help women in their moments of doubt; "A Cookbook for the Woman Who Hates Cooking" is an honest, yet funny approach to cooking; "What if I Had a Different Name?" is a collaboration with her son Jack and it’s a fun exploration of some of the weird and fantastical names that Jack imagines as his own; "The Cloud That Covered My Head" is a whimsical story about a boy who preferred to stay in bed and dream rather than go to school, and "Rotten Tooth Ruth" brings to life T. Brush, Minty Paste, and Floss who must think of a way to befriend Ruth; "Bobby B. Sprout Meets a Bunch of Rotten Veggies" is an allegory for anyone who's felt like the "other," it's all about racism/antisemitism. Her latest work includes "My Best Friend Shadow," when no one else wants to play with Ash Shadow teaches that life can be bigger, better and fun, available for purchase on Amazon. "Diary of a Wrinkle" is her blog where she muses on the topic of aging and beauty, and @wrinklerevolution is her corresponding Instagram account. You can follow her on Instagram @soletseat for her daily culinary creations and for daily inspirational thoughts scroll through @insanelyfemale. "A Yemenite Bride" (a screenplay) tells the story of Ilana's great-grandmother Saida, and sheds light on the life of Jews in Yemen during the early 20th century.
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