web analytics
July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



‘Israel’s Supporters Need To Go On The Attack’: An Interview With Ambassador Alan Baker

Ambassador Alan Baker

Ambassador Alan Baker

As a former Israeli ambassador to Canada and an expert in international law, Alan Baker has been involved in the negotiation and drafting of agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians.

Last year Baker was thrust into the spotlight when he was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the three-member committee chaired by former justice Edmund Levy to examine the legal aspects of land ownership in the West Bank. That produced the highly publicized Levy Report.

The Jewish Press: Your history is an interesting blend of diaspora and Israeli influences. How has that contributed to your political outlook?

Baker: I’m from a traditional Jewish family in England. As a student I was very much involved in Jewish student organizations and was elected chairman of the Organization of Jewish Students of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That was the time that the New Left came up, during the Six-Day War. There were huge battles on campuses then, and I found myself taking part in debates on Israel’s right to exist, its right to defend itself, and the right of the Jewish community to shechitah, many of the issues that are still around.

Being very much involved in politics and feeling the anti-Semitism among the British people, I decided the place for Jews is in Israel and made aliyah when I was twenty-three. I married an Israeli, got a master’s degree in international law at Hebrew University and went to the army. During the Yom Kippur War I was stranded in an Israeli outpost on the Suez Canal and had to fight my way out. Three of our men were killed. It was a very difficult time. All these things mold your personality.

Has your legal background affected your decision-making regarding Israeli policies?

Strangely enough, I’m not involved in Israeli politics. I’ve always been a civil servant. I’ve worked for virtually every Israeli foreign minister since Moshe Dayan, and the prime ministers. As a legal adviser my job is to give advice, which can either be taken or not. But I never really came out with my own political position.

However, as an Israeli I have three sons who served in the army, and that influences your whole outlook and makes you very conscious of the fact that you must do everything and anything to try to achieve peace. I also served as a military prosecutor in the Gaza Strip at the time Ariel Sharon headed the Southern Command and there was a huge wave of terrorism. And I served as senior legal adviser on issues of international law in the Israeli army headquarters.

I saw the shallowness of politics, the way the Arabs manipulate the international community against Israel by lying and undermining a lot of the accepted norms. You have to find ways of responding to it, which is what I developed over thirty-odd years.

You’ve had ample opportunity to observe the evolution of world opinion toward Israel and the Jewish community at large. Why has it changed over the years?

What has happened over the years is that the Arabs have enhanced their influence in the UN and their capability of neutralizing it, much more so now than twenty years ago. I certainly feel the difference. When you walk along the corridors of the UN and your best friends walk past you and don’t look at you because they’re afraid the Arabs might see them talking to you, it’s not a pleasant feeling. I think it’s clear that there is an element of anti-Semitism and resentment in the international community to the achievements of Israel, to the fact that we are a superpower in the field of high technology. It’s much easier for me to deal with Arabs and Palestinians because they’re up front. They say what they think.

As one of three appointees to the Levy Committee, you concluded in the Levy Report that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not occupation and that the Israeli settlements are legal under international law. Can you explain how you arrived at that conclusion?

This was nothing new. This has always been Israel’s position, from the day after the entry into the West Bank. Meir Shamgar, who became chief justice and then military advocate general, wrote in 1967-68 that this cannot be considered occupation because we haven’t occupied it from a sovereign country. Jordan was there illegally.

About the Author: Sara Lehmann, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, was formerly an editor at a major New York publishing house.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

5 Responses to “‘Israel’s Supporters Need To Go On The Attack’: An Interview With Ambassador Alan Baker

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    While I am an aggressive defender of Israel on most matters on left wing sites such as dailykos.com where I have at times even been threatened with a ban, I cannot endorse the Israeli government position on settlements. The entire rest of the world — starting with the United States in 1968 — does consider them to be violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Now, the Oslo Accords call for their status to be ultimately resolved through negotiations rather than by unilateral action. So while I certainly don't advocate another unilateral "disengagement" — and I also absolutely object to boycotts, divestment, or sanctions — Israel's supporters should understand the massive damage that this issue has caused to Israel's standing in the world.

    I say this even as I regularly complain about the Palestinian Authority's stated intention to make the entirety of Judea and Samaria Judenrein (and in fact I was told that if I ever used that word again on dailykos I would be banned — I have to use synonyms). To be fair, Salam Fayyad has opposed this policy, but his political movement unfortunately has little support among Palestinians.

  2. Yossie Bloch says:

    That being said, I live in a settlement.

  3. Myra Estelle says:

    "The UN has recently recognized the rights of indigenous people, who are thereby entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of such people in their land." So our rights as Jews have to be recognized after all!

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    I think Jews should be able to live anywhere in the world! The problem is the Medinat Yisrael government's past policy of pushing its citizens to move to an area that isn't part of Medinat Yisrael. (The same problem would exist if it tried to move Arab citizens.)

  5. Charlie, I wouldn't say the "entire world" considers settlements a violation of the 4th GC. And of course anyone with even half a brain realizes that using the 4th GC against the settlements is complete perversion of its intent, ie to prevent population transfers such what the Nazis did to the Jews.

    The settlements are a political issue and as such you certainly can make the rest of your argument, but please don't give in to the "legal" idiocy.

    http://www.jewishjournal.com/david_suissa/article/this_just_in_settlements_are_legal

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Children run into a shelter during a Code Red siren warning of incoming rockets fired from Gaza in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.
IDF Retaliates for Ashkelon’s Morning Rocket Fire
Latest Indepth Stories
kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

More Articles from Sara Lehmann

Like all patriotic Americans, I cheered implementation of the Bush Doctrine to preemptively protect American lives from the perceived threat of WMD.

Though the school district eventually pulled the assignment after coming under pressure, the fact that an American school would ask its students to debate whether the Holocaust was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain” is both astounding and frightening.

It is not the role of schools or government to make people feel good about themselves. Self-esteem comes with productivity, not in the absence of it.

Despite the exodus thousands of years ago and our break from the ghettos hundreds of years ago, the slave mentality follows us like a long shadow.

While Brooklyn College is famed for its plethora of Jewish professors and students, it is not a Jewish institution. The 92nd Street Y is. According to its own mission and history statement, it’s “a proudly Jewish institution since its inception.”

In a recent tirade on a public radio station in Albany, Governor Cuomo lambasted New York conservatives in one broad stroke. While lashing out against New Yorkers who oppose his SAFE Act, a draconian gun-control bill rammed through the New York legislature soon after the Newtown massacre, Cuomo targeted all Republicans and conservatives as the enemy.

Proud as I am of my daughter’s enthusiasm and her proclivity for outreach, I somehow can’t shake a niggling regret that it had to be in Germany. As the daughter of a Hungarian mother who escaped deportation by running with her family from the Nazis and the daughter-in-law of a Dutch Jewish man whose parents were shot by the Nazis and who was liberated from Bergen Belsen at the age of 12, I am one generation closer to the Holocaust than my daughter. And one degree closer to the idea of shunning anything and everything German.

Only 26 years ago, 250,000 Jews demonstrated on the National Mall in Washington. It was an unprecedented display of solidarity with Soviet Jewry and played a significant role in facilitating the release of Soviet Jews. The demonstrators were Jews of all stripes and from all across America, Orthodox and non-Orthodox. I know, because as a young student I was there.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/israels-supporters-need-to-go-on-the-attack-an-interview-with-ambassador-alan-baker/2013/03/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: