web analytics
September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post

Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Another UN Folly?

Later this month the United Nations General Assembly is likely to recognize the state of Palestine (which the United States is expected to veto in the Security Council). This diplomatic charade will ignore long forgotten, but far more consequential, international decisions.

At the San Remo Conference ninety-one years ago the victorious Allied Powers adopted a resolution incorporating the Balfour Declaration (1917) into the British Mandate. It called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The San Remo resolution was aptly identified (by British Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lord Curzon) as Israel’s “Magna Carta.” According to Chaim Weizmann, who would become the first president of Israel, “you can say that the Israeli state was born on the 25th of April [1920] in San Remo.”

The resolution, the first international guarantee of Jewish national rights in Palestine, was, according to international law scholar Howard Grief, “the pre-eminent foundation document of the State of Israel.”

In July 1922 the Council of the League of Nations approved the British Mandate for Palestine that was framed at San Remo. But “Palestine” had been redefined. British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill, a wily diplomat in pursuit of multiple diplomatic objectives, had secured a provision (Article 25) empowering the Mandatory authority (Great Britain) to “postpone or withhold” its application to “territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine.”

So, in one fell swoop, three-quarters of “Palestine” was lopped off. Bestowed upon Sheikh Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, it became the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan. East of the Jordan River, the Mandate provisions dealing with the development of a Jewish national home ceased to apply. But Article 6 of the Mandate guaranteed “close settlement by Jews” on the land west of the Jordan River (now Jordan, the West Bank, Israel and Gaza).

Another world war later, the League of Nations gave way to the United Nations. Under its Charter (Article 80), “nothing … shall be construed . . . to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.”

Known as “the Palestine clause,” Article 80 was drafted by Jewish legal representatives including the liberal Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) from the right-wing Irgun, and prominent Revisionist Ben-Zion Netanyahu (father of the current Israeli prime minister). It preserved the right of the Jewish people to “close settlement” throughout their remaining portion of Palestine west of the Jordan River.

The United Nations partition resolution of 1947, dividing western Palestine into two states, clearly violated Article 80. But once Arab states rejected it, the UN resolution was meaningless.Boundaries would be determined by war. Twenty years later, during the Six-Day War, Israel returned to its promised land in Mandatory Palestine – and, of course, to its biblical patrimony in the Land of Israel.

It is nothing less than astonishing that successive Israeli governments ever since – regardless of their political orientation – have seemed oblivious to the internationally guaranteed right of Jews, under the League of Nations as affirmed by the United Nations, to “close settlement” west of the Jordan, in biblical Judea and Samaria no less than in Tel Aviv.

Nor is the United States blameless in the relentless undermining of Jewish settlement rights. In a 1924 Convention, ratified by Congress and proclaimed by President Coolidge, it recognized all rights guaranteed to the Jewish people under the Mandate – including the right of “close settlement.” Current American opposition to Jewish settlements, Professor Grief argues, violates the legal doctrine of estoppel, which prohibits a state from denying any rights previously granted by treaty or other international obligation.

Ironically, it was Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin, negotiating the Camp David Accords with Egypt in 1978, who first agreed to future negotiations to determine the “final status” of the West Bank and Gaza. But their international legal status had already been decided in 1922 – with settlement rights vested in the Jewish people.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s willingness in the Oslo Accords to relinquish nearly all of Judea and Samaria to the PLO reaffirmed the Israeli surrender of land that under international law – to say nothing of Jewish history – belongs to the Jewish people. So, in a bizarre twist of historical irony, Israeli prime ministers have followed the British lead in sabotaging Mandatory guarantees.

How can one explain the obliviousness of successive Israeli governments to Jewish settlement rights in the biblical homeland? Settlement in the Land of Israel, after all, always defined Zionism. But the rules changed once the monopoly on settlement by secular Zionist pioneers yielded to religious Zionists after the Six-Day War.

The synthesis of Zionism and Judaism forged by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, chief rabbi of Mandatory Palestine, and taught by his son Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook to students at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem, inspired the first cohort of settlers, led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, to return to Hebron and launch the settlement movement. By now more than 300,000 Jews have followed the Mandate guarantee for “close settlement” west of the Jordan. But it threatens secular Zionism at its core.

Reviled worldwide as illegal occupiers of Palestinian land, Jewish settlers are, ironically, abiding by international legal assurances that their own governments, regardless of the party in power, still seem quite willing to relinquish.

In liberal Jewish circles, predictably, venom against Jewish settlers is the conventional wisdom. Several weeks ago New York Times columnist Roger Cohen warned that Jews, lest they become “systematic oppressors” of Palestinians, “must be vociferous in their insistence that continued colonization of Palestinians in the West Bank will increase Israel’s isolation and ultimately its vulnerability.”

To refer to Jewish settlement as “oppression” or “colonization” is to disregard ninety years of international law – to say nothing of 3,000 years of Jewish history in the Land of Israel. Jews have as much right to live in Hebron, Kiryat Arba and Ariel as they do in Bethesda, Scarsdale and Santa Monica. The embarrassment of Roger Cohen – or J Street and the New Israel Fund – at being linked to “those Jews” is their problem.

Whatever the United Nations may decide, it is powerless under international law to deny to Jews the right to settle in their homeland – all of it. UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War, called upon Israel to withdraw from “territories,” not “the territories” or “all the territories” – and only once “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” is achieved. That, it seems reasonable to say, is not imminent.

When the resolution for Palestinian statehood is introduced the UN is likely to provide good theatre for Israel-bashers. But, ironically, it is Jewish settlers, not their venomous critics, who have the law on their side.

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Brothers at War: Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena” (Quid Pro Books), published in June.

About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.

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.

2 Responses to “Another UN Folly?”

  1. Words, words, words!

  2. Outra Folly das Nações Unidas?
    Notícias dos judeus, Israel eo mundo
    No final deste mês a Assembléia Geral da ONU é provavelmente a reconhecer o Estado da Palestina (que os Estados Unidos está prevista para vetar no Conselho de Segurança). Esta charada diplomática irá ignorar há muito esquecida, mas muito mais consequentes, de decisões internacionais.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jim Bennett, zl, father of Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi party chairman Naftali Bennett.
Father of Naftali Bennett, Jim Bennett, 73, Passes Away
Latest Indepth Stories

Despite British assuring the Jews would be allowed to return “shortly” it’s only happening now

So it is critical that readers in the districts indicated come out to vote.

We urge readers to seek out upcoming rallies scheduled for times and places that work for them.

To be sure, the worst of what was directed at Mr. Nadler by some random hotheads with no real power or influence (calling him a “kapo,” for example) was over the top.

We can readily understand that it would be an embarrassment to the president were Congress to reject the deal he struck, even if that rejection would be vetoed and go nowhere.

As the First Zionist Congress was indisputably one of the seminal events in modern Jewish history, it is not surprising that it became the subject of some of the most beloved, beautiful, and rare Rosh Hashanah cards ever created.

Many in the media impart bias in place of truth; convey personal prejudice over objective facts.

Nahal Haredi is the ultimate solution, according to Branski, serving haredim from a wide variety of backgrounds – chassidish and yeshivish, Sephardi and Askenazi.

A recent study found that 54% of Jewish college students experienced/witnessed anti-Semitism in 2014

The purpose of an attack on Joseph’s Tomb is to murder Jews at prayer and destroy a Jewish holy site

A nuclear Khomenist Tehran will be a threat to Western democracies and to Jerusalem in particular

The MONSTERS of Nebi Saleh know well the damning, visceral impact of powerful, deceitful imagery.

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

More Articles from Jerold S. Auerbach

For nearly sixty-five years national self-definition has been the skeleton in the closet of Israeli politics and culture.


Times reporter Anne Barnard reported (7/15) that Israel was to blame (so her Palestinian sources asserted) for its continued “occupation” of Gaza – which, Barnard failed to note, ended nearly a decade ago.

During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.

Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.

In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.

Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.

One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/another-un-folly/2011/08/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: