Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
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  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.
Comments are closed.
“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”
The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.
American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam
Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.
Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy
By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.
The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.
In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.
The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.
I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.
Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.
Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.
For nearly sixty-five years national self-definition has been the skeleton in the closet of Israeli politics and culture.
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: