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

Ambassador Alan Baker

Ambassador Alan Baker

Beyond semantics, what kind of practical implications can arise from this and what hopes are there that the UN will accept such a recommendation?

In a way it’s semantics, but it’s more principle. It’s acknowledgement that the land and territorial rights of Jews have existed from time immemorial and have some protection. So when the UN comes along and adopts resolutions calling upon Israel to leave the territories, we can say no, your resolution is in violation of the UN’s own declaration protecting the rights of indigenous people. This would be the ultimate aim. And we have indications that it will be very difficult for them not to accept it because nobody can claim that we are not an indigenous people.

As a veteran diplomat, what advice can you offer those who try to defend Israel against its detractors?

Go on the attack. Stress our rights. It’s called rights-based diplomacy. Look how the Arabs have succeeded. I take off my hat to them. They’ve succeeded in taking over the UN, in taking the issue of settlements off the negotiating table and pressing it in front of Obama as a precondition. We’ve got to fight it. That’s why I’m against hasbara, which has become a catchword for apology. We should not apologize. We should push our rights; explain that Israel is an economic, high-tech giant. We’ve got so many positive things we’re doing.

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


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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

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