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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Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

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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


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Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

Consider this scenario:

There are three houses on a street in Silwan in eastern Jerusalem, two for sale. One is purchased by an Israeli Arab from Haifa and another by an Israeli Jew from Tel Aviv. The third is owned by an Arab who decides to finally take Israeli citizenship, an offer that had been outstanding for decades.

  • The Palestinian Authority welcomes the Arab purchase, but will sentence to death the person who sold the house to the Jew. It will ignore the Arab who became an Israeli.
  • The United Nations has no issue with the Arab’s purchase or taking Israeli citizenship, but considers the Jew’s purchase illegal.
  • The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement appreciates that the Arab purchase maintains the “Arab character” of Silwan, put demonizes the Jew’s purchase as an obstacle to peace. No opinion about the Arab become an Israeli.
  • Airbnb will list the homes of the new Arab owner and the Israeli Arab on its website but will donate any profit from the Jewish owner’s listing.

Those blatant antisemitic actions are the not only reality today, but are celebrated by Islamic extremists and are being mainstreamed by the alt-left. Rather than loudly calling out the vile Jew-hatred, people are loudly calling for more.


The neighborhood of Silwan in eastern Jerusalem,
founded by Yemenite Jews in the late 19th century

(photo: First.One.Through)

After the Jordanians attacked Israel in 1948 and ethnically cleansed all Jews from the west bank of the Jordan River and eastern Jerusalem, the Arab world celebrated. The Jordanians annexed the region in a move not accepted by almost every country on the world and then granted citizenship to anyone who wasn’t a Jew in 1954.

When B.D.S supporters call out for the “good old days,” this is what they seek to reestablish – those Jew-free days between 1949 and 1967. That’s the reality which the United Nations wants to recreate when it makes statements that every Jew has no rights to live east of the Green Line.

How has it not occurred to people that the statement that “settlements are an obstacle to peace,” stems from the noxious antisemitism of Palestinians demanding a Jew-free country?


Does Airbnb believe that coexistence means condoning Palestinian Authority’s laws
which call for killing people who sell homes to Jews?


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No Jews Allowed in Palestine

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Heritage, Property and Sovereignty in the Holy Land

This land is my land, this land is your land. Whose land is this anyway?

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Silwan in the eastern half of Jerusalem
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Events over the past few weeks both in Israel and at the United Nations warrant a review of three distinct concepts that seem to be alternatively ignored, refuted and merged: heritage, property and sovereignty in the holy land. They are each distinct concepts.

Heritage

Jews have a connection to the holy land that not only surpasses any other people in regards to that land, it surpasses other people’s ties to their homelands, as the Jewish connection combines both history and religion.

History: While Italian-Americans may feel a connection to Italy as their ancestors came from there some generations ago, there are very few people on the planet that have a widely accepted history in a land that extends back 3700 years.

Starting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and extending for 1800 years, the majority of Jews on the planet lived in the holy land. During different periods they were self-governing while in others they were ruled by foreign powers that had control of the region as part of a broader kingdom. Only the Jews ruled the holy land as a distinct entity.

Religion: While some religions have holy sites like the Vatican, or a holy city like Medina, only the Jews have a holy LAND, in which the entirety of the land is viewed as a divine promise from God. For the last 2000 years, wherever Jews were in the world, they prayed facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Yet despite the glaringly obvious ties of Jews to the entirety of the holy land, various entities – including many Arab countries and the United Nations – have sought to distance Jews from the holy land. The Arabs have declared themselves as the true indigenous people in the land, even though the introduction of Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula occurred 2000 years after the Jews were in the land. Further, many of today’s “Palestinian Arabs” arrived from elsewhere in the Middle East like Iraq and Egypt during the 1920s and 1930s, after the start of the British Mandate.

The arguments that the Jews do not have a deep connection to the entirety of the holy land is an absurdity and insulting. And it does nothing to advance peace.

Property

While Jews around the world are deeply connected to the holy land, such bonds do not give them title to any property. Should someone – Jew or non-Jew – want to own land, they can go through the process of taking out a checkbook and buying a home. This is the same basic rule that applies anywhere in the world, such as an Italian-American owning property in Rome.

Despite the clear and obvious distinction between property ownership and heritage, some people in Israel have felt no compunction in seizing lands that are owned by Arabs east of the Green Line (EGL)/West Bank, on the premise that the land was promised to the Jews. That’s an absurdity.

While international law in the San Remo Agreement (1920) and the Palestine Mandate (1922) clearly recognized the Jewish heritage in the holy land, it only sought to give Jews priority to settle in STATE LANDS, not private property. That is why new communities in EGL like Maale Adumim are completely legitimate, since none of the city was built on private property. However, legalizing the theft of private property in outposts has no legal or moral basis.

Sovereignty

A third distinction is sovereignty – that is, what country rules the land. An individual Arab can own a house in Beer Sheva which is ruled by the Jewish State, and a Jew should be able to own a home in EGL, even if it becomes part of a new Palestinian State. The government that administers the land should be completely distinct from who lives in the land.

Unfortunately, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), that is principally only true for Israel.

Most of the countries in MENA are almost completely Muslim and/or Arab. There is little tolerance in those countries for non-Muslims and non-Arabs.

The trend of creating Arab and Muslim-only areas has continued with Israel’s acquiescence, as demonstrated by the Jewish State’s removal of all Jews from the Sinai Peninsula (1982) and the Gaza Strip (2005). This has led to a presumption that Jews would once again be removed from EGL in a future peace deal. Should such an anti-Semitic condition be part of a peace deal, the notion that there is actually peace between the parties is laughable.


Jews have a connection to the holy land that surpasses any other people, and it is a major motivation for millions of Jews moving there, including both to Israel and EGL/West Bank. The UN and Arab countries are completely wrong in challenging the Jewish ties to their holy land.

Arabs that have demonstrated property rights must be respected as neighbors. Israel is wrong to take land that is privately owned, unless it is for a clear defensive purpose.

And the ultimate sovereignty of the disputed EGL/West Bank is a matter for the two sides to work out. Neither Jewish heritage nor Arab and Jewish property rights should be the defining considerations in determing sovereignty, but a thoughtful approach designed to improve the chance of a lasting peace for the people in the holy land.


Related First.One.Through articles:

“Settlements” Crossing the Line

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

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Obama’s Select Religious Compassion

A “Viable” Palestinian State

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Samantha Power Breakthrough: Violence Erodes the Prospects for Peace

“1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;”

US Security Council Resolution 2334

On December 23, 2016, the United States opted to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution that allowed the body to condemn all Israeli “settlements” living east of the 1949 Armistice Lines/ the Green Line as illegal.  Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations addressed the council after the vote to explain her reasons.

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
December 23, 2016

Ms. Power began her speech by underscoring “the United States’ deep and long-standing commitment to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”  But her rationale really took aim with the goal of two states, not a comprehensive peace.

The Israeli Actions

She claimed that the “United States’ long-standing position that Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967:

  • undermines Israel’s security,
  • harms the viability of a negotiated two-state outcome, and
  • erodes prospects for peace and stability in the region.”

Each point is deeply flawed.

Israel is the tiniest and most isolated country in the Middle East and much of the world. It is only 15km across (without the West Bank) around its most densely populated areas.  The capital sits on the border of the West Bank, a situation that is impossible from a security perspective, especially considering the country has been in a state of war with its neighbors for virtually the entirety of its existence. To state that enlarging its narrow borders undermines its security is obviously false.

The second comment that the settlements harm the viability of a Palestinian State is ridiculous. Annexing portions of Area C of the West Bank such as E1 and Maale Adumim would make a Palestinian State in the West Bank 15km across at a single narrow place- not for many kilometers as is the case for Israel. The argument that a Palestinian state cannot be viable if it is 15km narrow at a single point underscores that Israel should annex the entire middle of the land.

Ms. Power reserved her comment about peace – theoretically what most concerned her – for the very end.  Because the connection to settlements it is nonsensical.  How can Jews in a new Palestinian State undermine peace? Doesn’t peace mean getting along?

Not for the Obama administration.

Power clarified that: “One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two-state solution that would end the conflict. One has to make a choice between settlements and separation.

If that is indeed the US position that peace can only be achieved by completely separating the parties, ensuring that no Jews be allowed to live east of the Green Line, then it would stand to reason that the US must be promoting the notion that all Arabs be expelled from Israel. How can Israel incorporate over 1 million Arabs if separation is the key to peace?

The essence of Power’s comments is that Israel thinks about peace the wrong way. It isn’t about coexistence, trade and commerce. It’s about distinct existences. Israel is looking for normalization while the Arabs are in divorce proceedings.

Palestinian Actions

The Obama administration pulled their world-view together when Power addressed the problems stemming from the actions of Palestinian Arabs:

“For Palestinian leaders, that means recognizing the obvious: that in addition to taking innocent lives – the incitement to violence, the glorification of terrorists, and the growth of violent extremism erodes prospects for peace, as this resolution makes crystal clear.

The comment that violent extremism and the murder of innocents “erodes the prospects for peace,” is not stating the obvious; it NEGATES the obvious by destroying its very definition. Killing someone doesn’t undermine the prospects for living, it ENDS living.

  • When acting-President of the Palestinian Authority names schools, squares and soccer tournaments after terrorists who killed civilians, it CONTRADICTS peace.
  • When Abbas takes to the loudspeakers asking for martyrs to converge on Jerusalem, he NEGATES peace.
  • When Palestinian Arabs vote the terrorist group Hamas – which has the most anti-Semitic charter in the world which calls for the complete destruction of Israel and murder of Jews – to a whopping 58% of the parliament, they DESTROY peace.
  • When 93% of Palestinian Arabs are anti-Semites, they NULLIFY peace.
  • When the UN Secretary General says that he supports the integration of Hamas into a Palestinian unity government, the global body UNDERMINES peace.

Power conflated the “prospects for peace” and a new Palestinian state.  She essentially argued that Palestinian Arabs are only killing now to get a new state, and will stop when they get independence.  Such approach willfully ignored the inconvenient fact that Hamas launched three wars from Gaza since Israel withdrew from the region.

Power recognized the threat of violence; she just felt that enough military hardware would make the inconvenient violence manageable:

“Israelis are rightfully concerned about making sure there is not a new terrorist haven next door. President Obama and this administration have shown an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security because that is what we believe in.”

While Power argued that the United States would supply enough military equipment to ensure a viable and secure Israel, even in narrow borders, she stated the armament was intended to combat “a new terrorist haven.”  She seemed to have missed the point that the terrorists are not new. They are part of the established elected Palestinian government itself, and supported by the world body that just condemned Israel.

lose-hope


When Power opened her remarks at the UNSC discussing a “comprehensive and lasting peace,” she was only addressing the Israelis.  Only the Israelis are seeking peace; the Palestinian Arabs are seeking a state.

The notion that Palestinian Arab violence undermines the “prospects for peace” is wishful thinking that the violence will stop once a Palestinian State is created. The violence that is incited and celebrated by Palestinian leadership is pure evil, and undermines the rationale of allowing such a state to come into being at all. While all people deserve freedom and self-determination, should the United Nations actively endorse the creation of a violent and anti-Semitic regime as a pathway towards peace and stability?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

An Inconvenient Truth: Palestinian Polls

Stabbing the Palestinian “Right of Return”

“Peace” According to Palestinian “Moderates”

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“Settlements” Crossing the Line

Jews living in various parts of the Holy Land is problematic for some people. Different statements and actions in the fall of 2016 brought various matters to the public attention, but few people understand which “settlements” actually “crossed the line.”

 

Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem
(Not over the Green Line and not Crossing the Line)

President-elect Donald Trump made statements after his election victory, that he planned on moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Israel has long designated as its capital. Today, it is not nearly as controversial as it once was.

The initial controversy of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital stemmed from the 1947 UN Partition Plan which allocated Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem into a “corpus separatum,” an international zone called the “Holy Basin.” While the Jews accepted the proposal, the Arabs rejected it and launched a war to eliminate the Jewish State. At war’s end, Israel controlled the western part of Jerusalem, while the Arabs took all of Greater Bethlehem and the eastern part of Jerusalem. Jordan expelled all of the Jews from the region, granted citizenship to all of the Arabs (specifically excluding Jews) and annexed the region, in a move never recognized by any country in the world.

1947plan jerusalem
1947 UN Proposal for the Holy Basin including
Greater Bethlehem and Greater Jerusalem

While the western half of Jerusalem has been always been inside of the 1949 Armistice Lines / the Green Line, many countries still did not want to move their embassies to Jerusalem in the expectation that some solution would evolve to create a two state solution, which would also settle the question of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  After Jordan attacked Israel in 1967 and lost all of the land east of the Green Line (EGL) including Bethlehem and the eastern part of Jerusalem, a solution appeared even more distant.

Indeed, things did change.

  • In 1980, Israel extended the borders of Jerusalem and declared that the city, “complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
  • In 1988, Jordan gave up all claims to the EGL lands, and in 1994, it signed a peace agreement with Israel. The peace agreement acknowledged Jordan’s special role on the Jewish Temple Mount, but did not give Jordan any sovereignty in Jerusalem whatsoever.
  • In 1993 and then in 1995, the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs signed the Oslo I and Oslo II Accords, respectively.  As part of those agreements, the Palestinian Authority (PA) effectively agreed that Israel has sovereignty over the western part of Jerusalem. And as part of that agreement, Israel handed control to the PA of half of the Holy Basin, the city of Bethlehem.

Today, the only part of the Holy Basin that remains disputed is the eastern half of Jerusalem. (Granted there are terrorist groups like Hamas that refuse to acknowledge Israel’s rights over the western part of the Jerusalem, but for that matter, Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist at all.) As of today, the only countries that do not recognize that the western part of Jerusalem is part of Israel are the same countries that do not believe in Israel’s right to exist.

As such, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is no longer controversial, any more than recognizing the Jewish State.  Congress voted to approve moving the embassy in October 1995, at the time of Oslo II. However, US presidents have withheld executing the move as the broader Israeli-Arab peace has still not been realized.

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US Consulate in Jerusalem is not an embassy
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem does nothing to alter the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs that want to make peace. Withholding the move simply rewards entities like Hamas that are at war with Israel.

Jews in Apartments in the Eastern Part of Jerusalem
(Over the Green Line, but not Crossing the Line)

After Jews reunified the city of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, they moved back into the eastern half of their holiest city. Not only did they return to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, but to other sections outside of the Old City walls, like Silwan, which was founded in the second half of the 19th century by Yemenite Jews.

Jews returning to the area was viewed as controversial by Arabs, who had banned Jews from the region while they controlled the area from 1949 to 1967.  However, international law clearly stated that “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” (Mandate of Palestine, Article 15).

Yet US President Obama preferred to endorse the anti-Semitic agenda of the Palestinian Authority in condemning Jews for moving into apartments that they legally purchased in Silwan. In October 2014, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said The US condemns the recent occupation of residential buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan by people whose agenda provokes tensions.”

The scenario was hard to fathom. The first black president in US history condemned people for moving into a neighborhood because such action was viewed with hostility by the current residents. Would Obama have sided with white racists in the 1950s in Selma, GA that were against blacks moving into the neighborhood?

The apartments which Jews had purchased were in existing buildings in their holiest city. To characterize the actions as a “occupation of residential buildings” made the action sound like a military maneuver against Arabs, rather than a normalization of people coexisting.

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Silwan, in the eastern part of Jerusalem
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

While the apartments were over the invisible Green Line (which was clearly defined as not a permanent border in the 1949 Armistice Agreement), the Obama administration was completely wrong that such actions crossed the line of appropriate behavior.

 

Settlements on Private Palestinian Arab Land
(Over the Line and Crossing the Line)

On November 15, 2016, the Israeli Knesset voted to legalize Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria that were built on private Palestinian Arab land.

That was wrong.

International law gave Jews the right live anywhere in Palestine, as described in Article 6 of the Mandate of Palestine “shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”  But private property is not state land.  The introduction of Article 6 states “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced…”  It is unjust and immoral to seize an individual’s private property unless there are extenuating circumstances.

This does not appear to be one of those cases.


There is a broad movement to delegitimize Jews who are living anywhere in the Holy Land. That is wrong and anti-Semitic. However, those disgusting calls to expel and ban Jews from living in homes they have every legal and moral right to inhabit, should not override the rights of Arabs to live on their private property as well.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

The Arguments over Jerusalem

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

“East Jerusalem” – the 0.5% Molehill

“Extremist” or “Courageous”

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

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While Joe Biden Passionately Defends Israel, He Ignores Jewish Rights and the History of the Jewish State

Vice President Joe Biden addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2016. He spoke passionately about the importance of the security of Israel and America’s commitment to defend Israel.

At roughly the 29 minute mark of the speech, he said that “One thing is certain: the United States will constantly and forever have Israel’s back….no administration has done more to advance the security of Israel than we [this administration] have. Our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge is unquestionable; it will not change.” Putting aside the enormity of the pending threat of Iran from the JCPOA, the statement strikes many people in the Israeli government as accurate.

Biden_at_AIPAC

Vice President Joe Biden at AIPAC, March 20, 2016

However passionately Biden spoke about the importance of Israel’s security and America’s commitment to such, he confused the cause of safety, with the contours of  the basic history of the Jewish State. At three different occasions Biden spoke about the Holocaust and the current anti-Semitism in Europe. He stated that Israel needs to exist “as the ultimate guarantor of security for Jewish people around the world…Never, never, never again! And without Israel, there is no guarantee.”

The pro-Israel crowd rose to its feet in a standing ovation (video 33:30).

I was sad.

  1. “Never Again” is universal. It is the moral, ethical and primary responsibility of every government to protect each and every one of its citizens. It is true that many countries throughout history have turned on the Jews. But in 2016, I expect the Vice President of the United States of America to stand a foot taller and declare twice as loud as the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls who saidif 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
    ”Never Again” should not just be a slogan inside of Israel; it must be the slogan of every country in the world. How could a leader of the greatest country in the world pawn off the security of Jews to Israel alone?
  2. Modern Israel is the Third Jewish State. Israel was not created as a reaction to the Holocaust in World War II. It was not made as the United Nations’ pen for holding people out of harm’s way. That is a mischaracterization that President Obama has made repeatedly over his term. In his interview in The Atlantic in 2015, Obama compared the security of Jews to American blacks when he said “There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law. These things are indivisible in my mind.
    Nope.
    Israel was established in international law as the homeland of the Jewish people in 1920 in the San Remo Agreement, well before World War II. The 1922 British Mandate for Palestine clearly stated that the reason for the Jewish homeland in Palestine was specifically because of “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” The mandate facilitated Jews to move there, acquire property and citizenship once again.

Does the myopic view of Vice President Biden seeing and describing Israel solely as a safe haven for Jews matter?

You bet.

Without an understanding of Jewish history that dates back more than 3000 years in the land, and the international law that gives Jews the option of living throughout the land, Jews have no real rights.  They are interlopers and recent arrivals in “Arab lands,” rather than the indigenous people.  They are only entitled to security – and that security could be in an arbitrary, very small part of the holy land.

That is why the Obama administration calls Jewish homes east of the Green Line (EGL) as “illegitimate.”  That is why the administration could propose “settlement freezes.”  It leads to a view that Jerusalem, the holiest city to only one religion (Judaism), that has been the capital city of only one people in history (Jews), could be subject to negotiation and division.

When Biden said (video 20:45-22:45) that settlements hurt the chance for peace with Palestinian Arabs, he wasn’t just advocating splitting the land; he was segmenting his logic and ignoring facts.  To him, Israel has no inherent rights and Jews have no freedom to live where they want.  Israel and Jews are only entitled “to exist” with security.

For their part, the Democratic administration argues that Palestinians are entitled to “dignity and self-determination.”  And if that “dignity” means anti-Semitic laws, banning Jews and squashing the freedoms and rights of Jews, this administration will support it – as long as Israel has security.

Such a view destroys there ever being peace between Israel and Arabs.

The underlying reason preventing peace is the Arabs’ refusal to recognize the basic and fundamental rights Jews have for living in the land – regardless of whether it is under an Israeli flag, a Jordanian flag or a future Palestinian flag.  Sadly, the Obama administration holds the same position.

Perhaps, sadder still, is watching a pro-Israel community applaud.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Narrative that Prevents Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The Invisible Anti-Semitism in Obama’s 2016 State of the Union

Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

The Arguments over Jerusalem

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The Illogic of Land Swaps

The argument that using the “1967 lines” as the basis for the borders of Israel and Palestine in a two-state solution is flawed at the outset.  “Land swaps” simply underscore that absurdity of the argument.

Obama on Israel-Palestine Borders

In May 2011, US President Barack Obama shared his thoughts on the contours of the ultimate borders of Israel and Palestine in a two-state solution: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.

The comment infuriated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-Israel advocates. Obama clarified his comments before a pro-Israel group a few days later: “By definition, it means that the parties themselves, Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967… it allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years…. Including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”

Obama’s second statement moved away from his comments about “1967 lines.” By stating that the border would be arrived at through mutual negotiations and look “different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama made the comment about the 1967 lines moot.  If the parties agree to an entirely new construct for borders, than that would be acceptable too.  There is no reason to even mention the “1967 lines” or land swaps.

obama aipac
President Barack Obama at AIPAC May 2011

But the left-wing group J Street was much more aggressive than Obama on the contours of Israel, and lobbied the US government about the 1967 lines and land swaps.

J Street on Israel-Palestine Borders

J Street clearly calls for a two-state solution to be based on the 1967 lines with land swaps as detailed on its site: “This border will be based on the pre-1967 Green Line, with equivalent swaps of land…  land of equivalent quantity and quality will be swapped from within the pre-1967 Green Line.

The group also urged the US government and Jewish groups to strongly condemn any Jews living east of the Green Line (EGL/West Bank).  More specificaly, J Street stated:

J Street is deeply concerned that the pre-1967 Green Line separating Israel and the occupied territory is being effectively erased both on the ground and in the consciousness of Israelis, Jews and others around the world.

The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require establishing a border through negotiations between Israel and the new state of Palestine – based, as noted previously, on the pre-1967 Green Line with adjustments. Until that border is negotiated, the Green Line remains the internationally-recognized separation between the state of Israel and the territory won in the Six Day War in 1967.

A disturbing and growing lack of awareness of the Green Line is partially responsible for the 47-year occupation fading from the consciousness of the Israeli and international Jewish publics. Efforts to erase the Green Line from maps and from public awareness serve the interests only of those who seek to establish control over all the territory to the Jordan River.

One step American community groups, businesses, schools and governments could take to foster memory of the distinction between pre-1967 Israel and the subsequently occupied territory would be to use only maps that include the pre-1967 Green Line – a visual reminder of the Green Line and its significance.”

j street bookmark

All of J Street’s arguments: negotiations based on 1967 lines; equivalent swaps of land; and using equivalent “quality” are all illogical.  The desire to push the US government to punish Israel was demonic.

The Illogic of “Land Swaps”

There are a number of issues regarding using the 1967 lines and subsequent land swaps as envisioned by J Street.

The 1967 Lines Rewards Aggression.  Using the 1967 lines as a starting point for negotiations rewards aggression.  When Israel declared itself as an independent state in 1948, it was immediately attacked by five Arab armies from Egypt; Jordan; Syria; Lebanon; and Iraq.  The 1967 lines were the Armistice Lines where the warring parties stopped fighting in 1949.

Imagine that in 1948-9, Egypt conquered the entire southern part of Israel, all of the way up until Bethlehem, and Jordan conquered the entire eastern part of the country, leaving Israel as a narrow sliver of coastline from Tel Aviv to Rosh Hanikra. Consequently, imagine that it is this small state that becomes recognized by the United Nations in 1949, within Armistice Lines with Egypt and Jordan.

Further consider that history played out precisely as it did: in 1967 the Arab armies once again threatened to destroy Israel, so Israel pre-emptively attacked Egypt and Syria and then Jordan attacked Israel. Egypt and Jordan lost all of the territory that it took from the 1922 Palestine Mandate for a Jewish homeland in the war.

How would the world react?  Would the world demand that Israel needs to return to a stub of a state and give Egypt and Jordan all of the land past the 1949 Armistice Lines? Even if Egypt and Jordan ultimately relinquished their claims to the lands they seized in favor of Palestinian Arabs, would those borders somehow be considered the appropriate borders for Israel and Palestine?

Of course not.

Pushing Israel to accept the borders that the UN endorsed in 1949 would be rewarding the five Arab armies assault on Israel. The areas within the Jewish homeland mandate that are some refer to as “Arab land,” are simply lands that were seized by Arab aggression.  Using such 1967 lines/ the 1949 Armistice Lines, is a direct reward to an aggressive war to destroy the Jewish State.

Land Swaps Acknowledges that 1967 Lines are not Borders.  Those parties that suggest that land swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian state, inherently admit that the 1967 lines have no merit.  How could anyone suggest that a sovereign nation (Israel) give up some of its own land?  How could a country annex land of another country (Palestine)?  It can do so, if the two parties both acknowledge that the lines are not borders.

This was clearly spelled out in the Armistice Agreement with Egypt that stated “[t]he Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary.” Similarly, the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan which stated “The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.

While J Street urges Israel and Jewish groups to “know its boundaries,” the actual suggestion to engage in land swaps undermines the J Street argument that the 1967 lines have any real significance.  If there is any doubt, the Armistice Agreements that created those specific Armistice Lines stated those lines were not borders.

Land Swaps Undermine a call to limit Jewish “Settlements.” J Street and other groups that suggest that no Jewish Israelis should be allowed to live east of the Green Line (EGL/ West Bank), undermine their own argument when they suggest that there should be land swaps.  If Israel should give over some of its land west of the Green Line to a future Palestinian State, that would mean that Jews should also be prohibited from living in those border areas in Israel too.  Swapping land means that those Jewish communities in Israel would be considered a similar threat towards peace as the “settlements” in EGL/West Bank.

If people really believe that Jewish communities threaten the viability of a Palestinian State, the same parties that argue for banning Israelis in EGL/West Bank should argue similarly argue against Jewish communities in Israel that threaten the ability to effectively conclude land swaps.

That suggestion is clearly absurd.

Therefore if it is not a problem for Jews to move into communities that are west of the Green Line, than it is not an issue for Jews to move east of the Green Line.

Phantom Size.  The suggestion that the exact number of square kilometers of the “West Bank” and Gaza that were created by the 1949 Armistice Lines is somehow a sacred amount is ridiculuous.  As described above, the “West Bank” was an artifice created by a war of Arab aggression against Israel in 1948.  There is/was nothing inherently special about where the warring parties stopped fighting.

It is therefore non-sensical to suggest that the “equivalent quantity”of land be exchanged between the parties.  The Armistice Lines were arbitrary, non-permanent lines, and therefore the amount of land on either side of those lines are also arbitrary.

Further Absurdity of “Equivalent Quality.” J Street outdid itself in promoting a concept that went beyond the illogical suggestions of the 1967 lines land swaps.  It proposed that the land swaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be based on land of “equivalent quality.”  In other words, J Street did not only propose that there be a swap of 50 square km on one side of the Green Line for 50km on the other side.  J Street introduced the concept of “quality.”  The far left-wing group argued that desert land would not be equivalent to an aquifer.  Holy land would not be equivalent to non-Holy land.

What is the conversion factor between the different types of land? Who knows!  Just add some subjective requirements to simplify negotiations that are already going nowhere for decades and are illogical at the start.  That should speed things up!

 benami-J Street
J Street leader Jeremy Ben Ami

When people pick on Obama for being anti-Israel, they should consider his rather moderate stance compared to the advice he receives from J Street.


Related First.One.Through articles:

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

The Legal Israeli Settlements

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

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J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

The BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel and Israeli companies has been going on for several years.  According to Professor Eugene Kontorovich, the movement focuses on three main areas: campuses; companies and countries.  He notes that the college campus activities get a lot of attention, but have little practical impact.  The BDS of specific Israeli companies have more direct financial ramifications on the targeted companies (like Sodastream), while actions by countries can have the most severe impact on the Jewish State.

In that light, it is interesting to note the actions of J Street, which describes itself as a “Pro-Israel” group.

benami-J Street
J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben Ami
(photo: JTA/ J Street)

There is no question that the country with the largest economic and security relationship with Israel is the United States.  As detailed in “International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu,” the US is by far Israel’s largest trading partner.  Further, Israel relies on the US not only for $3 billion in military aid each year, but protection at the United Nations Security Council.

Therefore, the threat of the United States government putting pressure on Israel is many magnitudes more significant than a group of angry anthropologists on college campuses.  Such US pressure could cripple Israel both on a financial front and the security of its people.

And that is exactly what J Street proposes.

January 2011: “[I]f the [UN] Resolution [condemning Israeli settlements] does come to a vote, we urge the Obama administration to work to craft language, particularly around Jerusalem, that it can support condemning settlement activity and promoting a two-state solution.

While we hope never to see the state of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations, we cannot support a U.S. veto of a Resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy.”

J Street advocated that the United States abandon Israel at the UN Security Council, a place where the US is often the only voice of support.  The statement above was so reprehensible to many, that even devout liberal politician Gary Ackerman (D-NY) condemned the group and stated that he would have nothing to do with it.

J Street continued:

In September 2014: “J Street urges the United States government to undertake a thorough review of its policy toward Israeli settlements and to announce the steps it will take if Israel goes forward with this decision. As a first step, it should declare now that it is the view of the United States that settlements are not merely “unhelpful” or “illegitimate” but illegal under international law as laid out in the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

There are many leading international authorities (as well as the government of Israel itself) that clearly lay out why the settlements are neither illegal, nor counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, it was the Jordanian annexation of the “West Bank” in 1950 and the expulsion of all of the Jews from the area that was clearly counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Not only does J Street not side with the Israeli government in this regard, it “urges the United States government” to penalize Israel at the United Nations security council and elsewhere.

These official policy statements of J Street have implications well beyond angry annoying voices at universities.  They put Israel directly at risk.

J Street may make proclamations that they do not support BDS, but their voices and lobbying efforts are actually much more dangerous to the security of Israel.


Related First One Through articles:

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

Adalah, Dismantling Zionism

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The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

The world has a long established track record of telling Jews where they can and cannot live. It is a phenomenon that uniquely relates to Jews which continues to this day in the holy land.

Pluralistic World, Narrowly Defined

The “Western World” likes to think of itself as modern and “progressive.” Its leaders believe they have largely overcome rampant bigotry in their societies. For example, western leaders would never suggest that black people be only allowed to live in certain cities, or declare that gays be confined to ghettos. Even during this wave of radical Islamic terrorism, no leader would ever say that all Muslims should be expelled from the country. Modern civilized society would never tolerate such positions.

The “Western” pluralistic approach is not confined to opinions within its own borders. Wherever there is ethnic strife, western officials promote parties getting along.  In northern Cyprus, Christians and Muslims are urged to reconcile.  In Myanmar, the US calls for Muslims and Buddhists to try to live together in peace.

However, the attitudes change when it comes to Jews in the Middle East. Pluralism is passé east of the Green Line.

Jews are Treated Differently

Today, it has become all too common for Europeans to protest in the streets chanting “Free Palestine” in calls for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. University professors give legitimacy to Hamas, a terrorist group, which openly calls for killing Jews and destroying Israel. The leaders of the European Union call for Jews to be expelled from Judea and Samaria. And the President of the United States, Barack Obama, condemned Jews living in apartments they legally purchased in eastern Jerusalem.

While pluralism is an embraced ideal, the open tent does not cover Israel.  The western world that prides itself on fraternity, believes that Jews should be banned from living in predominantly Arab neighborhoods.  The modern culture that seeks a global community, wants to deny Jews the right to live in their homes. The progressive left which advocates for human rights, condemns Jews rather than Palestinian Arabs who fight for a Jew-free state.

Ideally, everyone should be able live anywhere.  Except for Jews who should be banned from living east of the invisible Green Line.

It should not surprise people that the Jewish State is treated differently. These same “progressive” countries have a long history of forcing Jews into ghettos and expelling them from their homes.  Dictating where Jews are allowed to live is second nature. It’s the Jewish “Pen Policy.”

Here is a list of the Pen Policy in action, after the Crusades. This list ignores the brutal slaughter of millions of Jews over that time.  There is no comparable treatment of any other ethnic or religious minority.

History of Expelling Jews

Many governments expelled all of their Jewish inhabitants, both on the local city level and on the national level.

Austria: Jews expelled from Vienna in 1670.

Brazil: Jews expelled from Recife in 1654.

Czech Republic: Jews expelled from Prague in 1745.

England: Expelled all of the Jews in 1290. Jews could not live in England for another 360 years.

Egypt: Jews expelled in 1956.
Israel removes Jews from Sinai in peace deal with Egypt in 1982.

France: 100,000 Jews expelled in 1306 and then again in 1322.
Charles VI expelled the Jews in 1394.
In 1420, the Jews were expelled from Lyons.

Germany: Jews expelled from Brandenburg in 1510.
In 1593, Jews expelled from Bavaria.
In 1614, Jews expelled from Frankfurt.

Hungary: Marie Theresa (still an all-time favorite leader among Hungarians) expelled all Jews from Hungary and Bohemia in 1744.

Italy: Jews expelled from Southern Italy in 1288.
In 1491, Jews expelled from Ravenna.
In 1492, Jews expelled from Sicily and Sardinia.
In 1494, Jews expelled from Florence and Tuscany.
In 1510, Jews expelled from southern Rome.
In 1541, last Jews evicted from Naples.
In 1550, Jews expelled from Genoa.
In 1558, Jews expelled from Recanati.
In 1569, all Jews forced out of Papal states by decree of Pope Pius V.
In 1571, Venice decides to evict all remaining Jews, but does not carry it out.
In 1593, Pope Clement VIII evicts Jews from all papal states, except Rome.
In 1597, almost all of the Jews of Milan are expelled.

Lithuania: Jews expelled in 1495.

Martinique: King Louis XIV ordered all Jews expelled from French colonies in the New World in 1683.

Netherlands: Jews banned from Utrecht in 1444.

Palestinian Authority: After massacre of 69 Jews by local Arabs, British forces remove remaining Jewish community of Hebron in 1929.
In 1949, after attacking Israel when it declared independence, Jordanians expel all Jews from Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem which they illegally annex.
In 2005, Israel removes all Jews from Gaza Strip.

Poland: Jews expelled from Warsaw in 1483.

Portugal: Some Jews expelled in 1483.
In 1497, choice of conversion or expulsion of all Jews.

Spain: Jews expelled from Seville in 1483.
All 200,000 Jews expelled from country in 1492.

Switzerland: Jews expelled from Basel in 1349.

Tunisia: Jews expelled or massacred in 1535.

Ghettos

Some governments did not expel their Jews, but forced them to live in concentrated areas. Street signs can still be found in European cities named “Street of the Jews.”

Austria: Vienna’s Leopoldstadt goes back hundreds of years.

Czech Republic: Prague has one of the most famous Jewish Quarters, which was created as a restrictive ghetto.

Italy: Venice instituted the first ghetto by papal decree in Europe in 1516.  Others were developed in Ferrara (1624) and Rome (1555).

Germany: Created over 1000 in Germany and Poland during World War II, including the infamous Warsaw Ghetto.

Russia: Jews were confined to the “Pale of Settlements” in 1791.  Jews were forbidden to live in 75% of Russia.

DSC_0121
“Jew Street” in Obernai, France
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

The world has grown very comfortable dictating where Jews may live. It is well past time for Europeans to condemn the racist Jew-free attitudes of Jordanians (1949-1967) and Palestinian Arabs today, and adopt a pluralistic and welcoming approach towards Jews in Judea and Samaria.

In November 2015, in a speech about attitudes towards Muslims, US President Barack Obama said, “we don’t have religious tests for our compassion… We don’t discriminate against people because of their faith.” If only he and others held such feelings about Jews as well.


Related First.One.Through articles and videos:

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

Video: Judea and Samaria (Foo Fighters)

Video: The “1967 Borders” (The Kinks)

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