Jews, Judaism and Israel

There are many debates being waged around the world about whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, how it is possible that some Jews may be against Israel, and why some Jews who do not believe in either God or religion are still considered Jews. This article will not tackle all of those issues but will seek to define, segment and size the nature of Jews, Judaism and Israel to better frame discussions on those topics.

Judaism

Judaism is a religion that takes the source of its teachings from the Five Books of Moses. Biblical scholars over thousands of years have interpreted the various events and commandments found in the Old Testament to frame how a Jewish person should act and live. The approaches changed over the millenia, with some sects like Sadducees, Essens and Karaites fading away while the Pharisees survived with the publication of the Talmud.

Over the last few hundred years, newer religious denominations came about including Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism. Each adopted different approaches as to whether the Bible was written by God or was simply divinely-inspired, and how to translate the ancient stories into relevant lessons for today.

Jews

Jews are most often defined by their lineage. Abraham, the father of monotheism, is considered the first Jew in Judaism. His grandchild Jacob became known as Israel and Jacob’s sons were the basis for the twelve tribes and the nation of Israel. Jews consider themselves direct descendants of these biblical characters.

According to the Orthodox and Conservative streams of Judaism, a person’s religion is decided by matrilineal descent (the religion of the mother), while the Reform and Reconstructionist groups have a broader allowance, in that they include patrilineal descent as well. Converts are also welcomed as Jews (although they are not encouraged) and tradition maintains that the new Jews do not only take upon themselves the religion, but the ancestry of Jews as well.

Israel

Judaism is a unique religion in that it has ties to a specific piece of land. The Bible clearly relays to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the descendants afterwards that the land of Canaan is their inheritance. The Bible describes specific commandments that can only be kept in Israel, and to this day, every Jew around the world prays facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jews have always lived in the LAND of Israel. Indeed, they were the only religious group to move to the holy land throughout the 19th century and Jews have been a majority in the city of Jerusalem since the 1860’s, BEFORE the push for Jewish sovereignty and advent of Modern Zionism.

Jews, Judaism and Israel

Despite the intersection of Jews, Judaism and Israel, not every Jew follows the religion nor lives in Israel.

Religion and Zionism In Israel

There are roughly 14.2 million Jews alive in the world today. Of that total, roughly 6.7 million live in the Jewish State of Israel. There are another 2.3 million non-Jews that live in Israel, with a population that now exceed 9 million.

  • Religious Jews 3.4 million
  • Secular Jews 3.3 million
  • Non-Jews 2.3 million
    • Total 9.0 million people in Israel

The Pew Forum estimates that Haredi and Orthodox Jews account for 10% and 12% of Israeli Jews, respectively, with Conservatives and Secular Jews accounting for 28% and 49% of the Israeli Jewish population, respectively. Using a Venn diagram, one can plot the 3.3 million Secular Israelis as being Jews connected to the land of Israel (People + Land) but not to the Religion.

Among the religiously-affiliated Israeli Jews, the Haredi Jews are the least Zionistic, while most of the other streams are very passionate about Israel having Jewish sovereignty. The black hat/ Haredi community is less enamored with the Modern Jewish State as it is not based on Orthodox religious law and many believe that such a state should only come into being with the arrival of the Messiah.

Denomination Population% Total Zionist% Total
Haredi 10% 0.7 10%            0.1
Orthodox 12% 0.8 100%            0.8
Conservative 28% 1.9 95%            1.8
Secular 49% 3.3 90%            3.0
Total in millions 6.7 5.7

If one were to assume that only 10% of the Haredi population are Zionists and almost all of the other denominations are Zionists, roughly 1 million Jews in Israel today would not be considered ardent Zionists.

This is not an oxymoron, and goes to the nature of the confusion of different people’s opinions about Zionism. Many Jews living in Israel are against the GOVERNMENT, not the idea of Jews living in the land. Haredi Jews consider themselves anti-Zionist because they think a secular Jewish state has no legitimacy in the Jewish holy land. However, they believe very strongly that the land is the Jewish holy land and they have the right to live Israel. This is in sharp contrast to Muslim anti-Zionism around the world which believes both that the Israeli government should be destroyed and that Jews should be expelled from the land.

Diaspora Jewry on Israel and Judaism

A little more than half of world Jewry lives outside of Israel, roughly 7.5 million people. The vast majority of diaspora Jews live in the United States (over 5 million) with France, Canada and the United Kingdom accounting for over 1 million more.

The United States is a bit of an anomaly compared to Jews around the world, with strong Conservative and Reform movements. In much of the rest of the world, Jews are either Orthodox or secular. In considering the breakdown of Jews in the Venn diagram, assumptions are made for the 5.3 million Jews in the U.S. and then for the rest of the world.

America Population% Total Zionist %  Total 
Orthodox 10% 0.5 50%            0.3
Conservative 18% 1.0 70%            0.7
Reform 35% 1.9 40%            0.7
Unaffiliated 37% 2.0 20%            0.4
Total in millions 5.3 2.1

The Pew Forum estimated the breakdown of Jewish denominations in the United States and the percentages for people who consider themselves Zionists are educated guesses. The Conservative denomination is assumed to be the most pro-Israel, as the Orthodox group includes Anti-Zionist Haredi factions. Using these figures would suggest less than 40% of American Jewry is pro-Israel.

Different percentages are used in making estimates in the rest of the world, below:

ROW Population% Total Zionist %  Total 
Orthodox 25% 0.6 60%            0.3
Conservative 10% 0.2 70%            0.2
Reform 30% 0.7 40%            0.3
Unaffiliated 35% 0.8 40%            0.3
Total in millions 2.2 1.1

The figures for the 2.2 million Jews in the rest of the world are broad estimates. In some countries like France, 60% of the population is Sephardic which almost always considers itself Orthodox, even when not actively practicing Judaism. In general, the unaffiliated/ Reform account for a majority of the population.

Among the diaspora Jews outside of the U.S., Israel holds a more significant role as they suffer more discrimination and are much more likely to emigrate to the Jewish State. Using these figures – which are arguably low – approximately half of the Jews in the rest of the world would be considered active Zionists, 10% more than American Jewry.

Laying out these figures in the Venn diagram above shows that there are about 5.6 million affiliated Jews, of which roughly three-quarters are pro-Israel. This compares to approximately 8.5 million unaffiliated Jews of which only 45% are pro-Israel.

**This breakdown might be viewed by many as unfair. For example, according to Pew, 87% of American Reform Jews consider themselves only Jews through Peoplehood and not religion, while 50% of Unaffiliated Jews felt the same way. This would suggest 4.0 million Affiliated American Jews (both People and Religion) as opposed to the 1.5 million used in the chart above.**

However, the concept remains the same. There are Jews who consider themselves only Jews in the notion of peoplehood, those who consider themselves both Jews by peoplehood and religion, and further, those within each camp who consider themselves tied to Israel (whether they live there or not) and those who do not. The warring factions within the Jewish people of Zionist/anti-Zionist and Jewish anti-Semites often breakdown among these categories.


Jews, Judaism and Israel are all deeply connected yet are distinct at the same time. Before delving into the nuances related to antisemitism and anti-Zionism, it is important to understand the important interrelationship of land-government, people and religion while also acknowledging the varied preferences among Jews in how they define themselves and convey their passions.


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The Anti-Israel Community in a Jewish House of Worship

On November 26, 2019, a progressive Reform Temple in Westchester County, New York brought together a collection of people from the far-left and anti-Israel community to talk about the situation in “Israel/Palestine.” The discussion was civil and disappointing.

The Israel Action Committee of the Temple Israel of New Rochelle put together the event with “Friends of Mossawa,” an organization based in Tarrytown, NY which claims to fight for equality in Israel, and the United Nations, an organization which claims to be a unifying agency for people all over the world. As the evening demonstrated, what unites these parties is their strong distaste for Israel.

The speakers included Laura Wharton, a left-wing, anti-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu member of Jerusalem’s City Council; Rana Abu Farha, a host on the Palestinian run Ma’an 24 news show; and Hanan Al Sanah, a representative of an NGO in the Negev which advocates for Bedouin women. It was moderated by Paul Warhit, President of the Westchester Jewish Council.

Hanan Al Sanah, Rana Abu Farha, Laura Wharton and Paul Warhit at TINR
November 26, 2019
From the outset, the tone of the two hour evening discussion was clearly not going to follow the script as laid out in the invitationThe Lived Reality in Israel and the Palestinian Territory: Current Political Developments and the Prospects for a Peaceful Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The members of the TINR clergy and Israel Action Committee who welcomed the fifty-person audience repeatedly referred to “Israel/Palestine,” and not the “Palestinian Territory,” upgrading the PA-ruled lands to an actual country. They also noted that one of the evenings invited speakers, Ali Ghaith, an “activist and freelance journalist” was not able to attend as he had recently written a negative piece about Netanyahu and was therefore not able to get a travel visa from Israel. Various people in the audience booed Israel’s actions.

The Left-Wing Israeli Politician

Wharton began the discussion stating that she has “complete solidarity with the Palestinian people” and would state later that she is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. Her comments during the evening really only proved the latter.

Even though she serves as a member of the Jerusalem’s City Council, she was woefully ignorant of the city’s composition stating that only about 2,000 Jews live in “East Jerusalem,” even though the actual number is over 200,000 in the eastern part of the city.

Wharton was particularly worried about mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. She said that it was “worrisome that more Israelis are moving into Palestinian neighborhoods,” especially right-wing Israelis. She said that Jerusalem will ultimately need to be divided as part of a peace agreement and the Jewish presence among the Palestinians made that separation harder. She voiced her belief that the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall should remain in Israeli hands, but the balance of East Jerusalem should be part of Palestine, with Christian holy places under the jurisdiction of the United Nations.

Wharton believed that the problems in Jerusalem paled relative to the West Bank. She commented that the settlements are illegal by international law and many are also illegal under Israeli law. She believed that all of the settlements complicated matters significantly by placing Jewish towns alongside Arab towns. Neither she nor the moderator chose to mention how Jews and Arabs get along just fine in Haifa, the headquarters of Mossawa.

Wharton ended her remarks by stating that she supported the B.D.S. movement of Israeli goods made in the West Bank but urged people in the audience to not boycott Israel in its entirety, as it silenced the voices of the dovish Israelis like herself and gave ammunition to the right-wing.

The Anti-Israel Palestinian Newscaster

Rana made Laura’s pro-B.D.S. comments look tame.

She decried the “occupation” throughout her remarks, stating that the over 130 Israeli settlements consisting of 1 million Jews pushed 2.5 million Palestinians to live in “ghettos.” (The actual number of Jews in the West Bank is half that number). She said that Netanyahu went to war in Gaza the other week because he feared he was losing the election so thought it would help to kill Arab civilians to excite the Israeli public. She added that the entire notion that Israel is democratic is a joke, and that it just holds election as a marketing ploy to the western world that it shares democratic ideals when it is really just a racist colonial occupier. The moderator chose not to push back aggressively on these libels.

The Palestinian newscaster went on that she thought that every single settler must leave the West Bank and that all 6 million Palestinian refugees (there are actually 5.5 million registered with UNRWA) should be allowed to move to Israel. When asked by Warhit how Israel could possibly allow 6 million Arabs into the country to overwhelm the Jews, she simply stated that “it’s their land so it’s their choice.” The members of the UN and Friends of Mossawa who sat in the audience grunted their approval. Warhit could only summon that he appreciated her position about getting rid of the settlements but could not imagine Israel allowing 6 million Arabs into the country. The TINR organizer of the event admonished Warhit to not share his opinion and just get the panel talking.

The Bedouin Arab

Compared to the other people on stage, Hanan was actually quite good, even while her English was the weakest. She said that she considered herself an Israeli but was frustrated by the country’s lack of investment in the Bedouin community and Israel’s refusal to allow them to live in their traditional lifestyle. At the same time, she acknowledged that she was also frustrated by her own Bedouin traditional lifestyle that kept women illiterate and as second-class citizens. She was advocating for change in the Bedouin culture to empower women, but for more of the traditional status quo from the Israelis to not force them to move into conventional cities.

End Points

The Q&A at the end of the panel discussion was mostly a repeat of prior comments. When asked about the Palestinian and left-wing Israeli poll in the summer of 2018 that showed that almost all Israeli Arabs were in favor of capping the number of refugees coming to Israel and in favor of Israel’s Nation State Law, the denials began to flow.

The questioner was first directed by the panelists to call Israeli Arabs as “Palestinian Citizens of Israel” and told that the poll figures must be wrong. Both Laura and Rana mentioned the huge protests in the streets after the Knesset passed the law which undermined the poll’s statistics. Wharton considered the poll’s point of Israeli Arabs wanting to cap refugees as perhaps stemming from Palestinian Arab viewpoint of Israeli Arabs as collaborators with Israel while they suffered in refugee camps. Rana effectively ignored the question and repeated that all of the Palestinians have a natural right to return to their homes (or more accurately, grandparents’ homes).

At program’s end, when Rana was asked how many Jews she thought could live in a Palestinian State, she repeated that every settlement had to be removed. Pushed further if she would accept a situation in which every Israeli soldier left the land, and every Jewish civilian in the West Bank opted to become a Palestinian citizen, she reiterated her stance that no settlers could remain. When challenged as to why she would take such an antisemitic stance to forbid any Jew from living in a Palestinian State, the organizer of the event from TINR jumped in and said “don’t put words in her mouth” and then tried to escort her out of the room.


Temple Israel of New Rochelle is proud of its progressive bona fides. Its rabbi serves on the board of J Street (a left-wing Israel advocacy group), Planned Parenthood, and Rabbis for Human Rights. It was therefore not surprising to see such a progressive organization give a warm welcome to people advocating for a boycott of Jews in the West Bank, expulsion of all the Jews living there, and changing Israel into a bi-national state. Such is the state of progressive views about Israel today.


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The Fourth ‘No’ of the Khartoum Resolution: No Return of Palestinian Refugees

In the aftermath of the Arabs humiliating defeat in the June 1967 war with Israel, the leaders of eight Arab countries assembled in Khartoum, Sudan to proclaim their unity with each other and the cause against Israel which had just taken the Sinai from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. They published the Khartoum Resolution which, among other matters, proclaimed the infamous ‘three No’s’ regarding Israel:

“3. The Arab Heads of State have agreed to unite their political efforts at the international and diplomatic level to eliminate the effects of the aggression and to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the aggression of June 5. This will be done within the framework of the main principles by which the Arab States abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country.”

The comedy of classic clowns might be lost on the listeners of later generations, but the Arab heads of state made the subject of Palestinians having their “own country” a new priority, after 18 years of occupying the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967, and making no effort whatsoever to create an independent Palestinian state.

What’s more, the no peace/ recognition/ negotiations with Israel not only prevented any pathway to peace for all the Arab actors with Israel, it slammed the door shut on Palestinian refugees having any chance of returning to homes in Israel.

As stated in the 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution 194, item 11, “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property.” The 1967 Khartoum Resolution made clear that there would be no peace with Israel, and consequently, no return for any refugees.

This was not a new or novel issue for the Arab world.

In October 1950, not long after the end of Israel’s War of Independence, the United Nations sought a method of handling the displaced Arabs who had left Israel. The UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine noted the opinion of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion about the status of the Arab refugees:

“Mr. Ben Gurion’s view this passage [Resolution 194] made the possibility of a return of the refugees to their homes contingent, so to speak, on the establishment of peace: so long as the Arab States refused to make peace with the State of Israel, it was evident that Israel could not fully rely upon the declaration that Arab refugees might make concerning their intention to live at peace with their neighbours. Mr. Ben Gurion did not exclude the possibility of acceptance for repatriation of a limited number of Arab refugees, but he made it clear that the Government of Israel considered that a real solution of the major part of the refugee question lay in the resettlement of the refugees in Arab States. On the other hand, Mr. Ben Gurion fully recognized the humanitarian aspect of the problem and on several occasions declared that, when the time came, the Government of Israel would be ready to take part in the efforts necessary for its solution and that it would do this in a sincere spirit of co-operation. Mr. Ben Gurion told the Commission, however, that the Government of Israel considered the refugee question as one of those which should be examined and solved during the general negotiations for the establishment of peace in Palestine.”

Arab states rejected the existence of the Jewish State at its founding in 1948 and dug in deeper after the loss of territory that belonged to THEM (as opposed to local Palestinians) in 1967. While Egypt and Jordan did sign peace agreements with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively, the remainder of the Arab world still has not. Thirty Arab and Muslim states still refuse to acknowledge the basic existence of Israel.

So while the number of Palestinian “refugees” stood at roughly 1 million in 1967, that number ballooned to over 5.5 million in 2019. Bringing that many Arabs into Israel would completely alter the demographic composition and character of Israel, a point which the United Nations abhors when it comes to Jews living in the West Bank as it stated in the 2016 UNSC Resolution 2334: “Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.” If the desired Arab state cannot handle a 5% Jewish population, how can anyone possibly consider that the Jewish State, which already has a 20% Arab population, take in an additional 5 million Arabs?


Arab women entering the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem, Israel
(photo: First.One.Through)

The Arab world declared three No’s to Israel in 1967, and also effectively sealed the fate of Palestinian refugees, that they would never move to houses in Israel.


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Considering Carter’s 1978 Letter Claiming Settlements Are Illegal

The November 18, 2019 announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Israeli “settlements” are not illegal reverses the conclusion of a lawyer advising President Jimmy Carter’s State Department in 1978. A First One Through (FOT) deconstruction of that opinion follows.

The letter was compiled by Herbet Hansell, a lawyer from Jones Day who provided occasional legal consulting services to the State Department. His letter of April 21, 1978 set the framework for Carter to label the settlements as “illegal,” an opinion not shared by any other U.S. president before or since.

“Dear Chairmen Fraser and Hamilton:

Secretary Vance has asked me to reply to your request for a statement of legal considerations underlying the United States view that the establishment of the Israeli civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel is inconsistent with international law. Accordingly, I am approving the following in response to that request:”

FOT COMMENT: It is important to note that the conclusion was already given to Hansell, that the “United States view that the establishment of the Israeli civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel is inconsistent with international law.” Any good lawyer trained at arguing either side of a case can find a rationale to give his employer the backup required. Hansell did his best in the letter.

“The Territories Involved

The Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights were ruled by the Ottoman Empire before World War I. Following World War I, Sinai was part of Egypt; the Gaza strip and the West Bank (as well as the area east of the Jordan) were part of the British Mandate for Palestine; and the Golan Heights were part of the French Mandate for Syria. Syria and Jordan later became independent. The
West Bank and Gaza continued under British Mandate until May 1948.”

FOT: All of these statements are true to some extent. The issue is that these parcels of land like the “West Bank” were non-entities at the end of World War I. The definition of what they were to become were artifices of war and armistice lines.

Further, there is no discussion of the purpose of the British Mandate of Palestine. There was no mention that the Mandate specifically stated in Article 4 that it “shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land,” nor Article 15 that “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” The Mandate not only considered Jews living in Gaza and what would become the “West Bank” as legal, it ENCOURAGED Jews living throughout the land.

In 1947, the United Nations recommended a plan of partition, never effectuated, that allocated some territory to a Jewish state and other territory (including the West Bank and Gaza) to an Arab state. On 14 May 1948, immediately prior to British termination of the Mandate, a provisional government of Israel proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish state in the areas allocated to it under the Jewish plan. The Arab League rejected partition and commenced hostilities. When the hostilities ceased, Egypt occupied Gaza, and Jordan occupied the West Bank. These territorial lines of demarcation were incorporated, with minor changes, in the armistice agreements concluded in 1949. The armistice agreements expressly denied political significance to the new lines, but they were de facto boundaries until June 1967.”

FOT: The summary of the 1947 partition plan leaves out the principle that Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem were designed to be a “corpus separatum” and internationally-administered. Its legal position is completely unique and distinct from the “West Bank,” a horrible omission by Hansell.

Another shortcoming is that Hansell’s observation that the UN “recommended a plan of partition, never effectuated,” never enters his calculus for the remainder of his letter. If the UN simply “recommended” the partition, it had no legal validity. Therefore, when Israel declared itself an independent state at the end of the British Mandate, its borders would be set as the FULL territory, including Gaza and what would become the “West Bank” under international law known as Uti possidetis juris.

The reason that partition was never effectuated, was that the Arabs rejected it completely, as they considered the entirety of the land to be Arab with no space for a Jewish state. This makes the issue one about a civil war over a single tract of land, not one between two autonomous countries. Therefore the only international laws which would pertain would be regarding rules of war and protecting civilians, not laws dealing with incursions into foreign territory.

Even if one were to look past these failures and try to see Hansell’s point of view, the historic background still falls flat. Jordan did not simply “occupy” the West Bank; it evicted all of the Jews in 1949, annexed the territory in 1950 and then granted all non-Jews citizenship in 1954. The Arabs ethnically cleansed Judea and Samaria and then renamed the area east of the 1949 Armistice Lines the “west bank of the Jordan River,” which, over time, was shortened to the commonly used term “West Bank.” Such racist and antisemitic behavior – coming just a few years after the Holocaust no less! – should never be embraced.

Additionally, Israel secured additional land in the 1948-9 war beyond what was proposed for the Jewish State in the 1947 Partition Plan. The world accepted this additional territory both because Israel acquired the land in a defensive battle and that the Armistice Lines were expressly viewed as subject to change by both parties (the Arabs assumed Israel would shrink and the Zionists believed Israel sovereignty would expand). The principle of acquiring more land in a defensive battle in 1967 similarly applies.

Lastly, not only did the Palestinians not declare an independent Arab state, there was no more land to even consider as independent, as Egypt assumed control of Gaza and Jordan annexed the West Bank. When Hansell considers the Israeli counter-party in 1978, is he thinking about the Jordanians? Palestinians (who had accepted Jordanian citizenship)?

“During the June 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Egypt regained some territory in Sinai during the October 1973 war and in subsequent disengagement agreements, but Israeli control of the other occupied territories was not affected, except for minor changes on the Golan Heights through a disengagement agreement with Syria.”

FOT: Completely absent from the narrative is the not-inconsequential point that Israel was the DEFENSIVE PARTY during the June 1967 war. While it is a matter of debate whether Israel’s preemptive attack on Syria and Egypt which had threatened to attack Israel and amassed troops on the border was defensive, there is no question that Jordan attacked Israel first. Just as Israel acquired additional land in a defensive battle in 1949 which was endorsed by the world, so too was Israel’s acquisition of the West Bank.

The Settlements
Some seventy-five Israeli settlements have been established in the above territories (excluding military camps on the West Bank into which small groups of civilians have recently moved). Israel established its first settlements in the occupied territories in 1967 as para-military ‘nahals’. A number of ‘nahals’ have
become civilian settlements as they have become economically viable.

“Israel began establishing civilian settlements in 1968. Civilian settlements are supported by the government, and also by non-governmental settlement movements affiliated in most cases with political parties. Most are reportedly built on public lands outside the boundaries of any municipality, but some are built on private or municipal lands expropriated for the purpose.”

FOT: Stating that settlements are “supported” by the Israeli government is misleading. Israel “supports” all civilians in the West Bank – including Arab towns – with various services ranging from protection to electricity and water. Hansell’s caveat that most settlements are “reportedly” built on public lands seems peculiar, as though he doubted the veracity of the report to add that “some are built on private or municipal lands.”

Legal Considerations
1. As noted above, the Israeli armed forces entered Gaza, the West Bank, Sinai and the Golan Heights in June 1967, in the course of an armed conflict. Those areas had not previously been part of Israel’s sovereign territory nor otherwise under its administration. By reason of such entry of its armed forces, Israel established control and began to exercise authority over these territories; and under international law, Israel became a belligerent occupant of these territories.”

FOT: Hansell now delves into the legal analysis of the settlements, but his omissions in the background now become toxic to the analysis.

  • There is no factual mention that Israel was without question the defensive party regarding Jordan in the West Bank, yet Hansell declares that Israel was the “belligerent” party.
  • Hansell noted that the 1949 Armistice Lines had no “political significance.” Therefore, the area one foot to the right or left of the the armistice lines was only theoretically Israel and Jordan. While the world recognized the sovereignty of Israel to the west of the line, the entirety of the UN (except Pakistan and the UK) did not acknowledge Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank. These Arabs also never declared an independent state as noted above.
  • In short, Israel entered into a disputed territory which was an integral part of the Palestine Mandate from which Jews were expelled in a defensive war 18 years earlier in a defensive maneuver.

Hansell continued:

“Territory coming under the control of a belligerent occupant does not thereby become its sovereign territory. International law confers upon the occupying State authority to undertake interim military administration over the territory and its inhabitants; that authority is not unlimited. The governing rules are designed to permit pursuit of its military needs by the occupying power, to protect the security of the occupying forces, to provide for orderly government, to protect the rights and interests of the inhabitants, and to reserve questions of territorial change and sovereignty to a later stage when the war is ended. See L. Oppenheim, 2 International Law 432-438 (7th ed., H. Lauterpacht ed., 1952); E. Feilchenfield, The International Economic Law of Belligerent Occupation 4-5, 11-12, 15-17, 87 (1942); M. McDougal & F. Feliciano, Law and Minimum World Public Order 734-46, 751-7 (1961); Regulations annexed to the 1907 Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Articles 42-56, 1 Bevans 643; Department of the Army, The Law of Land Warfare, Chapter 6 (1956) (FM-27-10).

‘In positive terms, and broadly stated, the Occupant’s powers are (1) to continue orderly government, (2) to exercise control over and utilize the resources of the country so far as necessary for that purpose and to meet his own military needs. He may thus, under the latter head, apply its resources to his own military objects, claim services from the inhabitants, use, requisition, seize or destroy their property, within the limits of what is required for the army of occupation and the needs of the local population.”

FOT: Even while Hansell labels Israel as a “belligerent occupant” as if Israel aggressively attacked and entered a sovereign nation’s territory, he comments that such party has the authority to manage the security of the territory and “provide for orderly government” and oversee the inhabitants until “the war is ended.” Has the war ended? It certainly had not by 1978 when this letter was drafted. Jordan only made peace with Israel in 1994, and abandoned all claim to the West Bank in 1988, ten years after this opinion letter was drafted. As such, according to Hansell, Israel’s role in the West Bank is undisputed.

“But beyond the limits of quality, quantum and duration thus implied, the Occupant’s acts will not have legal effect, although they may in fact be unchallengeable until the territory is liberated. He is not entitled to treat the country as his own territory or its inhabitants as his own subjects…, and over a wide range of public property, he can confer rights only as against himself, and within his own limited period of de facto rule. J. Stone, Legal Controls of International Conflict, 697 (1959).”

FOT: Hansell himself comments that the “Occupant” is in charge of orderly government and security until it is “liberated.” Was the West Bank to be “liberated” to the Jordanians who illegally annexed the land? Liberated to the British who ran the Mandate until the Jordanians invaded? Liberated to the Ottoman Empire who ruled the land until the end of World War I? In 1978, the “Palestinians” of the West Bank were all Jordanians, citizens of the invading army which had ethnically cleansed the region of its Jews. It is arguable that the land was liberated from Jordan back to Israel. Yet the fact that Israel did not immediately annex the land in 1967 and put it under its full sovereignty also suggests that Israel viewed the land as disputed.

Hansell stated that the Occupant must not treat the “inhabitants as his own subjects.” A curiosity, as today people complain that Palestinian Arabs have no right to vote in Israeli elections, but that’s the desired result according to Hansell.

“On the basis of the available information, the civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel do not appear to be consistent with these limits on Israel’s authority as belligerent occupant in that they do not seem intended to be of limited duration or established to provide orderly government of the territories and, though some may serve incidental security purposes, they do not appear to be required to meet military needs during the occupation.”

FOT: Hansell was very unsure of himself, using couched language throughout his conclusion. He noted that the civilian settlements do not “appear” consistent with the limits as the “belligerent occupant.” Of course, that also doesn’t mean that it is illegal. It just means that his first line of consideration did not touch upon Israeli civilians. However, it did make clear that Israel has security responsibility for the entire land and that the inhabitants should not be considered citizens of the Occupant, therefore only subject to military rule with no rights to vote.

“2. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949, 6 UST 3516, provides, in paragraph 6: ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies’.

Paragraph 6 appears to apply by its terms to any transfer by an occupying power of parts of its civilian population, whatever the objective and whether involuntary or voluntary. It seems clearly to reach such involvements of the occupying power as determining the location of the settlements, making land available and financing of settlements, as well as other kinds of assistance and participation in their creation. And the paragraph appears applicable whether or not harm is done by a particular transfer. The language and history of the provision lead to the conclusion that transfers of a belligerent occupant’s civilian population into occupied territory are broadly proscribed as beyond the scope of interim military administration.”

FOT: Hansell uses a very broad interpretation of the word “transfer,” well beyond its definition.

The law states that the government cannot “deport or transfer” its own citizens. The word “deport” means to expel, sort of the way Turkey has invaded Syria and is deporting thousands of its unwanted refugees into Syria (of course, there has been no UN Security Council resolution of Turkey’s slaughter of the Syrian Kurds and dumping unwanteds, but that’s another story). The deported people have no right to return to the original Occupant’s land. This is in contrast to “transfer” in which the civilians remain citizens of the Occupant’s country.

Because the transferred people maintain citizenship rights, Hansell seems to argue that it covers voluntary movement of civilians. However, that interpretation has nothing to do with the definition of “transfer.” Arguing that Israel is enticing its citizens to move to the West Bank because it plans the towns still does not mean the government is moving (“transferring”) anybody. It is simply providing an orderly government in the land which it is obligated to do as discussed above.

Further, Hansell’s concluding point is that the very essence of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention has to do with situations which are inherently short-term in nature. The Civil War between the Jews and Arabs for the holy land started in the 1920’s and began raging in full force in 1936 and is still going strong as evidenced by three wars, the Second Intifada and Stabbing Intifada, in just the last twenty years. The Article in question is not designed or equipped to deal with a civil war, let alone one which has been going on for decades.

“The view has been advanced that a transfer is prohibited under paragraph 6 only to the extent that it involves the displacement of the local population. Although one respected authority, Lauterpacht, evidently took this view, it is otherwise unsupported in the literature, in the rules of international law or in the language and negotiating history of the Convention, and it seems clearly not correct.
Displacement of protected persons is dealt with separately in the Convention and paragraph 6 would seem redundant if limited to cases of displacement. Another view of paragraph 6 is that it is directed against mass population transfers such as occurred in World War II for political, racial or colonization ends; but there is no apparent support or reason for limiting its application to such cases.

The Israeli civilian settlements thus appear to constitute a ‘transfer of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies’ within the scope of paragraph 6.”

FOT: Having stretched the definition of “transfer” well beyond its intent, Hansell argues against a straw man whether the impact or quantity of people has any impact on his definition of “transfer.” It’s a foolish point and does not buttress his argument for reinterpreting the definition of “transfer.”

“3. Under Art. 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, paragraph 6 of Article 49 would cease to be applicable to Israel in the territories occupied by it if and when it discontinues the exercise of governmental functions in those territories. The laws of belligerent occupation generally would continue to apply with respect to particular occupied territory until Israel leaves it or the war ends between Israel and its neighbours concerned with the particular territory. The war can end in many ways, including by express agreement or by de facto acceptance of the status quo by the belligerent.”

FOT: Hansell’s argument is that Israel remains bound to the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention as long as it remains in the territory or the war ends. While the parties were still fighting in 1978, Israel and Jordan subsequently signed a peace agreement in 1994 therefore implying an end to the applicability of this law. Some might note that Jordan gave up all claims to the West Bank in 1988 and effectively handed such claim to the Palestinians whom Jordan began to strip of Jordanian citizenship. But such arguments fall flat. Jordan had no rights to the West Bank in any form to relinquish them to the Palestinians; the West Bank was land being fought over in a civil war between the Zionists and the local Arabs.

4. It has been suggested that the principles of belligerent occupation, including Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention, may not apply in the West Bank and Gaza because Jordan and Egypt were not the respective legitimate sovereigns of these territories. However, those principles appear applicable whether or not Jordan and Egypt possessed legitimate sovereign rights in respect of those territories. Protecting the reversionary interest of an ousted sovereign is not their sole or essential purpose; the paramount purposes are protecting the civilian population of an occupied territory and reserving permanent territorial changes, if any, until settlement of the conflict. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel, Egypt and Jordan are parties, binds signatories with respect to their territories and the territories of other contracting parties, and “in all circumstances” (Article 1), and in ‘all cases’ of armed conflict among them (Article 2) and with respect to all persons who ‘in any manner whatsoever’ find themselves under the control of a party of which they are not nationals (Article 4).”

FOT: Hansell continued to point out that the relevant parties regarding the Geneva Convention are not the Palestinians (which makes sense as those living in the West Bank were all Jordanian in 1978) but Israel, Egypt and Jordan. As Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994, the Geneva Convention no longer applies so the Trump Administration can easily state that Israeli civilians living in the West Bank are not illegal.

“Conclusion
While Israel may undertake, in the occupied territories, actions necessary to meet its military needs and to provide for orderly government during the occupation, for reasons indicated above the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law.”

FOT: Hansell’s arguments were extremely weak and inherently flawed in 1978 and are not relevant today as Israel has peace agreements with both Egypt and Jordan. The Trump administration’s recognition of this fact is welcome and was overdue.

Jews and Arabs are coexisting in Israel and are building a thriving country together in the midst of mayhem all around them. While it is desirable for the stateless Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank to have citizenship in some country, such goal has no relevance on the legality of Israeli Jews living in the West Bank.

Jewish homes in Psagot, Judea and Samaria/ the West Bank
(photo: First.One.Through)


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The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

The Many Lies of Jimmy Carter

Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

Israel Has Much Higher Claims to The West Bank Than Golan Heights

Republicans Do Not Believe There is Any “Occupation”

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Trump Reverses the Carter and Obama Anti-Israel UN Resolutions

The United Nations is a group of 193 countries of various sizes, races, religions and political philosophies. From the time the UN was created in 1945 as an outgrowth of the League of Nations until today, the total number of member countries has swelled, mostly with monarchies, dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. As such, votes in the UN General Assembly are often at odds with decency and freedom, such as the 1975 “Zionism is Racism” resolution.

To counteract the world circus, the UN established the UN Security Council which was chaired by world powers to “lead” in matters of security. Regrettably, the makeup of the council’s five permanent representatives from the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom already included two non-Democratic countries. Depending on the makeup of the additional five rotating members in the UNSC, it was often left for the United States to be the sole voice of logic, reason and empathy.

Those voices of reason and decency were absent when the two most left-wing US presidents sat in office: Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) and Barack Obama (2009-2017).

Anti-Jewish Jerusalem Resolutions Under Carter

While anti-rational anti-Israel UNGA resolutions started soon after Israel took lands in its defensive war in June 1967, the anti-Jewish nature of the UNSC resolutions gained credibility and momentum in 1980 under the watch of President Carter.

As Israel prepared to annex the eastern part of Jerusalem which had been illegally annexed by Jordan in 1950, and declare the city Israel’s undivided capital on July 30, 1980, the UN Security Council began to pass resolutions attacking the move in harsh language.

The March 1, 1980 UNSC Resolution 465 stated (incorrectly) that:

  • the Fourth Geneva Convention related to Israelis moving into Jerusalem. It was nothing of the sort. Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem since the 1860’s and were expelled from the eastern part of the city by the invading Jordanians. Jerusalem was designated by the UN in 1947 to be an internationally-administered city, a “corpus separatum,” not part of another country to which the Geneva Convention applies.
  • As noted above, Jerusalem was neither a Palestinian nor Arab territory as “deplored” in the UNSC resolution.
  • The comment that the UN cared about Jerusalem’s “need for protection and preservation of the unique spiritual and religious dimension of the Holy Places in the city,” when it did nothing about the Jordanian expulsion of the Jews, annexation of the city and refusal to allow Jews to enter, pray or live in the city was insulting, disgusting and reeked of Jew-hatred.
  • Further calling for all Jews to be evicted from Jerusalem to reestablish the “demographic composition” of the purely Arab Old City which the Jordanians had created and enforced, blessed the Muslim antisemitism.

And the United States under Carter let such vile resolution pass, as it did a few months later on June 30 when the UNSC passed Resolution 476 which called on the entire world to join in on the antisemitic edict as it sought to enforce its ban on Jews in the city.

On December 6, 2017 President Trump marked the United States objection to and rejection of the UNSC resolutions and recognized the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and soon moved the US embassy to the city.

Anti-Jewish Judea and Samaria Resolution Under Obama

In the waning days of the Obama administration, the anti-Israel voices inside the White House and the United Nations pulled together anti-fact anti-Israel UN Security Resolution 2334.

  • The UN resolution’s use of the term “Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” is interesting nomenclature. The UN does not recognize Palestine as an official country. Does the resolution refer to Armistice Lines that Israel agreed to with Jordan (not Palestine)? Does it refer to incremental land that Israel took beyond the 1947 Partition Plan up to those Armistice Lines?
  • The resolution again “condemned” the shift in the “demographic composition” of that “Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem.” Too many Jews. Too many Jews. Too many Jews. Too cynical? Do you think that the resolution was concerned that the Arab population grew four-fold from 1967 to 2017? I don’t think so.
  • The presence of those Jews was deemed a threat to “the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines.” While past resolutions were only concerned about arriving at a peace agreement, now the contours of the peace agreement which was theoretically to be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs themselves, now had a predetermined outcome. So why negotiate at all?
  • If the presence of Jews threatened the existence of an Palestinian state, does the presence of Arabs threaten Israel? If so, the UN’s declaration that Palestinian refugees should be moved into Israel is a direct threat to the viability and existence of a member state of the UN, a war crime.
  • The resolution declared definitively that any place in which an Israeli Jew lives beyond the June 4, 1967 lines has “no legal validity
  • Significantly called on the entire world to actively “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” in a move not seen in any disputed territory around the world.

This last statement enabled the UN to compile a “blacklist” of companies operating in the Israeli territory of Area C (which was agreed to by the Palestinian Authority in the Oslo Accords). So on November 12, 2019, the European Union declared that labeling products made in Area C had to have a distinct label than items produced in Israel.

Not a week later, it was time for the Trump Administration to respond in kind.

On November 18, 2019 the Trump Administration marked the United States objection to UNSC Resolution 2334 and stated that Israeli civilian settlements are NOT illegal and do NOT hamper peace.

President Trump has sought to reverse the terrible damage done by the Carter and Obama administrations at the United Nations with its overtly anti-Jewish resolutions, by standing proudly and defending the Jewish State. Hopefully other countries will follow.


President Trump visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem,
the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site, in May 2017


Related First.One.Through articles:

President Herod

The Legal Israeli Settlements

When You Understand Israel’s May 1948 Borders, You Understand There is No “Occupation”

Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

Republicans Do Not Believe There is Any “Occupation”

The Arguments over Jerusalem

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President Herod

There once was a mad king who lived in Judea in the first century BCE who was one of the greatest builders in the holy land. His second coming may be here.

U.S. President Donald Trump has never been shy about taking claim for accomplishments. In his remarks about the trade war with China, he referred to himself as “the chosen one,” which many people thought was akin to anointing himself as the Messiah, as the Jews are commonly known as “the chosen people.” A more apt comparison might be to a particular king in Judea from 2,000 years ago.

Like King Herod (73 – 4 BCE), Trump is an accomplished builder. Herod built the expanded Temple Mount to enable better flow of thousands of Jews to the Second Temple in Jerusalem, aqueducts in Caesarea, the large edifice atop the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron and many other buildings across the holy land. For his part, Trump has built numerous buildings in New York City and around the world. In addition to those buildings which he financed, there are many others which bear his name.

In addition to their real estate bona fides and reaching political stardom, both Herod and Trump have been characterized as paranoid madmen. Herod had many people close to him killed, including his wife and her sons; Trump has preferred to off people on Twitter who do not show complete loyalty.

But more than anything else, Donald Trump may earn the title of President Herod for continuing to fortify Jewish permanence in their holy land.

Just as Herod was able to secure more lands for Judea from his patrons in Rome, Trump has recognized Israel’s capital in Jerusalem, its rule in the Golan Heights, and on November 18, 2019, the natural and acceptable existence of Jewish homes throughout Judea and Samaria, in contrast to the United Nations which labeled them as illegal (with the tacit nod from former President Obama).


President Trump visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem,
the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site, in May 2017

For those people excited about the various efforts of Trump on behalf of the Jewish State, history shows that celebrations can be short-lived. The Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, only seven years after the Temple Mount complex was completed. Just sixty-five years later after the failed Bar Kochba revolt, the Romans expelled the Jews and renamed Judea as Syria Palestina, thoroughly weakening the Jewish people and their presence in their homeland. Herod’s glorious buildings remained, but were assumed by pagan and Arab interlopers over the following centuries.

Donald Trump knows that to make an enduring mark in history, he can forge a peace agreement in Israel when so many others have failed, and/or he can further help build the Jewish State. While he hopes to achieve both, he is not waiting on the latter and is actively supporting America’s ally.

Trump may have picked the “chosen one” moniker for himself, but others may begin to refer to him as President Donald Herod.


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There is No Jewish Temple Mount for The New York Times

The New York Times has earned and re-earned its anti-Israel bona fides over many years. It seems to want to burnish its anti-Jewish credentials as well.

In a November 11, 2019 article called “Jordan Reclaims Lands in 1994 Accord,” the Times wrote about a parcel of land which Israeli farmers had been working in the Jordan Valley which was recently reclaimed by Jordan. The Times framed the article that the land was legally Jordanian, and that the Jordanians had allowed the Israelis to work there for decades but how now reclaimed it as a matter of course in line with the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan struck in 1994.

The article continued to work a similar pattern, of Israelis living in lands which were rightfully Jordanian:

“Israeli-Jordanian tensions have flared periodically because of disputes with the Israelis over the handling of security at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, a hotly contested holy site over which Jordan has official custodianship.”

The article continued that Jordan had no choice to cancel the Jordan Valley land lease over “Israel’s repeated violations and actions… which were extremely provocative,” including placing metal detectors “at the mosque compound.

Note that the Times chose to only call the site by the Islamic name, the “Al Aqsa Mosque compound” and not also refer to it by the Jewish name, the “Temple Mount.” It is the holiest site in the world for Jews, and were forbidden to enter when Jordan illegally controlled the site from 1949 to 1967.

When Israel reunited Jerusalem in 1967, it allowed the Jordanian Waqf to have administrative control of the site, while Israel controlled all security matters. The Times neglected to tell readers that part of the equation, opting to make it appear that Jordan has “official custodianship” on all matters.

Additionally, the placing of metal detectors at the Temple Mount entrances were done in reaction to Arab terrorists killing Israelis at the site in 2017, another fact omitted by the Times.

Further, in an article which highlighted the 1994 Peace Accord, the paper could have mentioned that the treaty said in Article 9.2 that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.” Israel gave space for Jordan as it related to MUSLIM holy sites only, but not Jewish ones.

But the narrative of the Times distorted the entire picture.

The Times painted a picture that Jordan is the rightful owner and administrator of the Jordan Valley and the Al Aqsa Compound. It described these as purely Arab and Muslim sites in which they accommodated the Israeli Jews. These are #AlternativeFacts.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in the world only for Jews, and Israel has maintained full security control over the site for over fifty years. It is Israel that has accommodated the Jordanians, not the other way around, as Israel has given full access to Judaism’s holiest site to Muslims as they revere the location as well. But the Arabs have harassed and killed Israelis on the site, necessitating more aggressive security measures by the Israelis who are responsible for such matters.

The New York Times has no patience to educate its audience about the history of Jews nor the rights of Israelis, as it morphs its newspaper into Al Jazeera’s opinion section describing the Jewish state as illegal invaders of Arab lands.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

When You Understand Israel’s May 1948 Borders, You Understand There is No “Occupation”

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

Al Jazeera’s Lies Call for Jihad Against the Jewish State

It is Time to Insert “Jewish” into the Names of the Holy Sites

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

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Jizyah for Jews in Jerusalem

The predominantly Christian town of Jifna in Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A of the West Bank was an opening scene from a horror movie in late April 2019. Members of Fatah, the major political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, stormed into the town firing guns into the air and demanded that the Christian Arabs be forced to pay jizyah, an annual fee which non-Muslims pay to be allowed to live in Muslim-majority lands.


Town of Jifna

The incident is a continuation of the assault on the Christian population in Palestinian Authority-controlled towns and cities since Israel handed some lands to the PA.

Unfortunately, many well known Christian cities in the holy land are no longer Christian.

Nazareth, a city which was once majority-Christian, is now 70% Muslim. The Islamic influence changed things large and small, such as at Mary’s Well, the site where the angel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary according to Catholic tradition. Until the year 2000, there was a large sign describing the name and Catholic views of the site. The Muslims removed the sign and renamed the location ‘Nazareth Stream’ to remove any Christian orientation.

A similar story played out in Bethlehem, where the Christian population has dropped from around 86 percent in 1950 to just 2 percent today. In Gaza, a rapid Christian exodus is happening post the Hamas takeover, with a decline from 5,000 Christians in 2006 to only 1,100 today.

Meanwhile, in Israel, the Christian population has remained relatively constant at around 2 percent of the overall population, about 165,000 people.

If the Palestinian Authority is given more Israeli territory, what will that mean for the non-Muslim populations? Will Jews and Christians be forced to evacuate their homes either be direct order or discriminatory policies?

What is the going jizyah rate, and when would it be forced upon the Jews and Christians in a PA-controlled Jerusalem?


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25,000 Jews Remaining

Covering Racism

Al Jazeera’s Lies Call for Jihad Against the Jewish State

Palestinian Jews and a Judenrein Palestine

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Will the 2020 Democratic Platform Trash Israel?

In the aftermath of Israel barring entry of two far left-wing anti-Israel members of Congress, Democratic politicians began to worry that Israel was becoming a wedge issue rather than an issue with bipartisan support. Staunch pro-Israel Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) saidrefusing entry to members of Congress looks like Israel [is] closing itself off to criticism and dialogue. This decision will only strengthen the anti-Israel movements and arguments many of us find so troubling, further politicize support for Israel in the United States and ultimately play right into the hands of Israel’s enemies.

Engel has been a member of Congress since 1989 and knows better. He has seen his own Democratic party moving away from Israel since President Barack Obama made deliberate efforts to create daylight between Israel and the United States in his outreach to the Muslim world.

If one were to look at the 2008 Democratic Platform, it would be hard to see much of a difference from the Republican Platform regarding Israel. Both parties considered Israel a strong ally and backed Israeli positions.

But Obama made a strategic pivot away from Israel running as an incumbent in 2012. With the blessing of left-wing groups like J Street, the Democratic Party officially changed course on several key issues:

  • Refugees. Until 2012, the Democrats agreed with Republicans that Palestinian refugees would find a home in a new state of Palestine, not Israel.
  • Hamas. Until 2012, Democrats agreed that Hamas should be isolated until it renounced terror and recognized Israel’s basic right to exist.
  • Borders. Until Obama, Democrats agreed with Republicans that a new Palestinian state would NOT be established along the 1949 Armistice Lines, but reflect current realities and need to ensure Israel’s security.
  • Jerusalem. Until Obama, the Democrats and Republicans agreed that Jerusalem would remain a united city and the capital of Israel.

Those points – with the exception of Jerusalem which was bitterly contested on the convention floor – would disappear from the 2012 Democratic platform.

Years before Donald Trump considered running for president and the rise of the alt-left, the Democratic Party pulled back from supporting Israel’s position regarding establishing peace with the Arab world.

The pro-Arab camp would gather steam with the presidential aspirations of Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election season. In an effort to placate the Sanders camp when Hillary Clinton became the official party nominee, the Democrats allowed the Sanders team to help craft the official platform. Sanders chose anti-Israel figures to help draft the language, including Cornel West who calls Israel an “apartheid state,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and James Zogby who back the boycott of Israel movement.

In the end, the Clinton camp killed the Sanders’ team proposed languageaimed at criticizing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, demanding ‘an end to illegal settlements’ and supporting the re-building of the Gaza Strip.” But the anti-Israel movement inside the Democratic party had taken yet another step, moving from pro-Israel (until 2012) to neutral (2012) to critical (almost in 2016).

The 2020 presidential race is underway, and three of the four top Democratic candidates are deep in the far-left fringe of the party, including Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). With the rise and remarkable defense of the anti-Israel ‘Freshmen Squad,‘ one can expect the ‘Senior Squad’ will likely draft an official party platform that will actively attack Israel on issues which once had strong bipartisan support.

Trump has not made Israel a wedge issue in politics; the Democrats have been actively doing that themselves since Obama.


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Palestineism is Toxic Racism

Racism is a form of hatred which believes that all members of a particular group are inferior and/or evil. In itself, it is ugly but not dangerous, a localized noxious belief system based on bigotry. Racism becomes toxic when it spreads and obtains power.

Such is the state of Palestineism, the effort to weaken, shrink and destroy Israel because it is a Jewish State, as well as to vilify Jews and deny their rights, history and dignity in the Jewish holy land.

The Arab World

Palestineism has been present in the Arab and Muslim world for a hundred years.

Denying Jews and the Jewish State has been at the forefront of the Palestineism. Even before Jews reestablished Jewish sovereignty in their holy land in 1948, Arabs rioted and killed Jews throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, and petitioned the British who oversaw the Palestine Mandate to bar and limit the entry of Jews during the Holocaust in Europe. When Israel declared itself a Jewish state, the armies of five neighboring Arab Muslim countries invaded with the stated desire to destroy it completely. The Arabs evicted Jews from all lands they seized and specifically forbade Jews from obtaining citizenship (Article 3). Fellow Arab and Muslim nations followed suit, with ten Arab and Muslim countries expelling one million Jews after Israel was founded, irrespective of whether their fellow Jewish countrymen were Zionists.

To this very day, there are 30 Arab and Muslim countries which refuse to acknowledge the basic existence of the only Jewish country despite 20% of Israel’s population being Muslim, even while they recognize other countries including Myanmar which actively persecutes Muslims. The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas continues to refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, an acknowledgement which would have no impact on creating a new state of Palestine.

The Arab world’s objection to Israel is specifically that it is that is it Jewish.

The Palestinians elected Hamas to 58 percent of the Palestinian parliament in 2006 with this antisemitic jihadist charter full of sinister conspiracy theories about Jews (Articles 17, 22 and 30, among others).

The institutionalized Arab hatred of the Jews has developed into a full-blown vile ideology, as it attempts to validate its desire to wipe out Jews from the region.

  • The foundational document of the Palestinian Arabs claims that Jews have no history in Palestine, erasing the history and essence of the Jewish people (Article 18).
  • Throughout the Muslim world, Jews are actively dehumanized and stripped of their dignity, referred to as the “sons of apes and pigs.” It is a doctrine of racial superiority which is morally condemnable.
  • Mahmoud Abbas said that Jews have been hated for centuries because “of their function,” which is why they are always massacred. He continued his screed that in recent history, the “imperialist powers” tossed those unwanted Jews out of their countries into the Middle East, poisoning Palestinian land with the wretched people. It is blame-the-victim approach worthy of a sickening governing body which excuses honor killings of women.

The fabric of Palestineism is that Jews are disgusting foreign invaders who have no rights nor claims to Arab land.

This immoral Palestineism ideology manifests itself in many ways:

  • The Palestinian Authority has a law which calls for the death penalty for any Arab who sells land to a Jew.
  • The PA gives lifetime stipends to Arabs who murder Jews.
  • The Palestinians refuse to allow Jews to step foot on Arab college campuses in the West Bank, even journalists who loudly condemn Israel.
  • When Muslims ruled Hebron, they refused to allow Jews from entering their second holiest place, the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs.
  • Muslim Arabs continue to refuse to let the Jews pray at their holiest location, the Jewish Temple Mount.

The list goes on.

Palestineism, in its very essence, is about the repression of the dignity and integrity of Jews as human beings, with full rights to live and worship freely in their holy land. The toxicity has spread from the leadership and the state-controlled media to infuse the people who are the most anti-Semitic in the world.

Palestineism in The Rest of the World

Palestineism was built on Jew-hatred and conspiracy theories. The calls that Jews are “colonialists” and invaders of “Arab land” has been picked up by others, including leaders in the western world.

In Great Britain, Jeremy Corbyn is a member of the Labour Party who adopted Palestineism early in his career, often comparing Israelis to Nazis. He was once an outlier, but the toxicity infected the rest of the party when he was elected the party leader in September 2015 and began replacing senior party people with like-minded racists. Jews began to leave the Labour party in droves – including members of parliament – finding the antisemitism intolerable.

In the United States, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) were elected to congress in November 2018, and accused Jews of having dual loyalty and buying off members of the government to support Israel, racist tropes which the two Muslim women have not made about Irish-Americans, Mexican Americans or any other group. They contend that the most liberal nation in the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is an apartheid state, inverting the root cause of racism in the region, deflecting Muslim antisemitism. Meanwhile, these same members of Congress believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran which hangs gays by cranes in the streets and is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism, should not only not be boycotted, but given a legal pathway to nuclear weapons. Iran has called for the destruction of Israel – coincidence?

Palestineism is employing the boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) Israel, the sole Jewish state as a tool in its jihad. Corbyn, Omar and Tlaib are pushing for economic warfare against Israel, supposedly in the name of giving Palestinian Arabs a state.

The European Union is considering unique labels for products manufactured by Jews in the Israeli territory of Area C in the West Bank, but not those manufactured by non-Jews. It is the very definition of racism in suppressing the dignity of one human being over another. Will it label products made by Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir differently? By Christians and Muslims in Cyprus?

The toxicity of racism embedded in the Palestineism is not just spreading, it is being mainstreamed and defended by political leaders outside of the Muslim and Arab world. Denying Jewish history and repressing Jewish dignity are no longer viewed as morally condemnable and socially unjust, but essential ingredients to the creation of a Palestinian state, because those sentiments are demanded by the Arab world and Palestinian leadership. As it is considered improper to malign the “marginalized” in liberal circles, the alt-left is parroting the Palestineism propaganda, rather than condemning the racism.

So, schools in the Palestinian territories named for terrorists get European funding. Textbooks which deny the humanity and history of Jews are disseminated by the United Nations. Monies which flow to the murderers of Jews are reimbursed by Arab and non-Arab countries alike.

It is the very embodiment of toxic racism.

Palestinian Arabs could achieve sovereignty and statehood in Gaza and Areas A and B tomorrow, but Palestineism has more malicious demands: that Israel not be a Jewish State; that Jews be forbidden from living anywhere in Palestine; and that Jews be denied access and rights to their holy sites. It is Palestineism that is the roadblock to creating a state of Palestine and an enduring peace in the region, nothing else.


Palestineism is a sinister jihad, a direct antisemitic assault on the humanity, dignity and integrity of Jews, Judaism and the Jewish State and the polar opposite of coexistence and decency. It must be condemned loudly, clearly and often by everyone.


Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), advocate for boycotting Israel,
upon being sworn in as a new member of the US Congress


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Palestinian State I Oppose

Rep. Ilhan Omar and The 2001 Durban Racism Conference

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

Squeezing Zionism

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

Time to Define Banning Jews From Living Somewhere as Antisemitic

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