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Posts Tagged ‘Golan’

Opposing Olmert On Golan Surrender: Civil Disobedience As A Legal Imperative (Second of Two Parts)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Can the Olmert government protect Israel’s citizens? After last summer’s Lebanon war, this is hardly a serious question. Further, following Iran’s continuing defiance of the international community in its illegal nuclearization, a defiance carried out with literal impunity, the consequences of Israel’s national impotence could soon be genuinely existential. Let us be candid. This is the case even before Mr. Olmert proceeds with his plan to give up the Golan.

Credo quia absurdum. Prime Minister Olmert now further endangers Israel’s survival by his openly planned acquiescence to Syrian deceptions on the Golan Heights. Not only a 1967 report by the American Joint Chiefs, but also the authoritative words of four distinguished Israeli (res.) generals, challenge the Prime Minister’s mistaken judgment: “Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights constitutes the optimal strategic balance with Syria and insurance against a massive Syrian attack,” said these Israeli strategists in 1995. “The IDF’s proximity to Damascus is also a guarantee against a Syrian missile launch into Israel’s rear. Any change in this balance would lessen Israel’s deterrent against potential Syrian aggression and jeopardize the quiet and stability that have characterized the Golan since 1974.”1

It is with precisely these grave dangers in mind that Israeli opponents of Olmert’s intended Golan surrenders will soon engage in purposeful civil disobedience. Recognizing that victimization by words2 can set the stage for subsequent victimization by force, they shall seek, perhaps desperately, to “stop the machine.” From the standpoints of both law and national survival, they will certainly be acting correctly.

To “stop the machine” is a metaphoric phrase taken directly from Henry David Thoreau’s classical explorations of civil disobedience. In his oft-quoted essay on the subject, the American transcendentalist spoke persuasively of essential opposition as an act of “counter friction.” Confronted with dreadful harms of the sort suffered and anticipated by so many Israelis, harms generated by years of now-President Peres’ “Peace Process,” and soon-to-be magnified by Prime Minister Olmert’s additional surrenders, he would urge, as he once did about policy deformations in this country: “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

This is what Israel’s citizen protestors must now seek, not to lend themselves any longer to the unforgivable wrongs of the Rabin/Peres/Netanyahu/Barak/Sharon/Olmert agreements with the PLO/PA, or to any future Golan surrender to Syria. Among these many wrongs are assorted Israeli government legitimizations of Arab terrorism, and also corollary Israeli government refusals to punish egregious terrorist crimes. Israel and the fractionated Palestinian authority have not only effectively abandoned all pertinent jurisprudential obligations to seek out and prosecute Arab terrorists, they still cooperate in releasing killers of Israeli citizens from Israeli and Arab jails. Certainly Prime Minister Olmert and President Peres will not be willing to put an end to such incontestable violations of both Jewish Law and international law. Why should they? Crouched comfortably in the bruising darkness, their truth is the delusion of Plato’s cave. They see not what is happening right before their eyes, but only the shadows of what is real.

Let us return to germane matters of law. Israel’s agreements with the PLO contravene the binding obligation to punish acts that are crimes under international law. Known formally as Nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment,” this requirement points unambiguously to the multiple acts of killing and torture ordered directly by “elected” Palestinian authorities over many years. To not only ignore this peremptory requirement, but also to further legitimize the wrongs by making these criminals a “partner for peace” has been a clear violation of Principle I of the binding Nuremberg Principles.3

Israel’s citizens, who now support and sustain the discredited Oslo/Road Map agreements, and/or Prime Minister Olmert’s intended Golan surrenders, are acting (whether expressly or tacitly) in stark violation of fundamental international law. They are also acting, of course, in violation of Israel’s national law and longstanding Jewish Law. At the same time, all those who would disobey both these suicidal agreements with terrorist gangs, and the still-intended Golan surrenders would be acting in full support of all three interrelated forms of law.

My readers in The Jewish Press will understand that these informed views of law and civil disobedience in Israel deserve a wide hearing. Now embarked upon surrender policies that threaten Israel’s very existence while they simultaneously undermine authoritative expectations of justice, the Olmert government should reasonably expect to be confronted with mounting protests. Were it not so confronted, citizens of Israel would have already consented to their own national dismemberment. International law, which is based upon a variety of higher law foundations, including Jewish Law, forms part of the law of all nations. This is the case whether or not the incorporation of international law into national law is codified, explicitly, as it is in the Supremacy Clause (Article VI) of the United States Constitution. The government of Israel is bound by settled norms of international law concerning punishment of terrorist crimes and physical survival of the state. Where this government would fail to abide by these rules, as is very much the case today, civil disobedience is not only permissible – it is required.

Jewish Law rests always upon two fundamental principles: the overriding sovereignty of G-d and the derivative sacredness of the individual person. Both principles, intertwined and interdependent, underlie the reasoned argument for civil disobedience in Israel.4 From the sacredness of the person, which stems from each individual’s resemblance to divinity, flows the freedom to choose. The failure to exercise this freedom, which is evident whenever a response to political authority is merely automatic, represents a betrayal of individual legal responsibility.5

We Jews must be reminded that Jewish law is democratic in the sense that it belongs to all of the people. This is a principle expressed in the Talmudic position that each individual can approach G-d in prayer without priestly intercessions. Hence, a primary goal of law must always be to encourage initiative, to act purposefully on behalf of improving both state and society. When this criterion is applied to impending instances of civil disobedience in Israel, it should be apparent that the protesting opponents of Olmert’s intended Golan surrender, more than any other citizens of Israel, will be acting according to the true interests of law, justice and peace. Let them now stand strong against an Israeli public authority that indefatigably patronizes itself.

Copyright ©, the Jewish Press, October 12, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israel’s security and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

* * * * *

1. Statement (1995) prepared by Major General (res.) Yehoshua Sagui; Admiral (res.) Micha Ram; Brigadier General (res.) David Hagoel; and Brigadier General (res.) Aharon Levran.

2. The Talmud instructs that victimizing people with words is a serious transgression (Talmud, Tractate Bava Metzia 58b).

3. According to Principle I: “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and is liable to punishment.”

4. On the importance of the dignity of the person to the Talmudic conception of law, see: S. Belkin, In His Image: The Jewish Philosophy Of Man As Expressed In Rabbinic Tradition (New York: 1960).

5. On the human freedom to choose good over evil, see: J.B. Soloveitchik, Thoughts And Visions: The Man Of Law (Hebrew: New York: 1944 – 45), p. 725.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Outstanding Community
   Re “Memphis, Tennessee: The Jerusalem of the South” (Contemporary Jewish Kehilla, Jan. 26):
 
   My family and I moved to Memphis after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We came with literally two days’ worth of clothing after evacuating New Orleans. The community here welcomed us, fed, and treated us like long-lost family. Our children were taken into the Margolin Hebrew Academy and have adjusted without complaint. Every resource was mobilized to assist us in adjusting. I cannot think of a better place to raise a Jewish family.
 

Norman Itkowitz

Memphis, TN

 

Pressing Israel
   Will they never learn? Some self-styled “pro-Israel” groups are now doing their best to push Israel into a diplomatic corner. Included are some of the usual suspects: Israel Policy Forum, Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom.
 
   More disturbing, a recent news report stated that “a top Reconstructionist rabbi and a top Reform rabbi, joined in a personal capacity by the executive vice president of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, have called on Secretary of State Rice “to press Israel and the Palestinians into making peace.”
 
   Can that really happen? It’s hard to imagine a less propitious time for Israeli Palestinian negotiations. So what, in fact, will these rabbis actually accomplish? Well, they’ll certainly get that press – on Israel, that is, for unwise, possibly calamitous, concessions. Is that really what they want? While undoubtedly wishing Israel well, they do it only ill. Why can’t they get that?
 

Richard D. Wilkins

Syracuse, NY

 

Hard Medicine
   Reader Brooke Rose (Letters, Feb. 2) will forgive my impertinence, but how, pray tell, does one find eyewitnesses to adultery? I read Mr. Farbstein’s letter (Jan. 26) and he certainly was not passing sentence on wayward women. Instead, he was articulating a well warranted concern that instead of following halacha, which mandates divorce in these cases, well-meaning but misguided individuals will simply direct adulterers to seek counseling as a means of resolving their inner conflicts.
 
   While I am not a posek, and neither, I assume, is Mr. Farbstein, we do know enough to aver that the woman in question must consult with competent rebbeim. If in fact they’ve crossed a point of no return, so be it. It’s far better to take one’s medicine in this world than face Divine Wrath when called before the Heavenly Tribunal.
 

Dr. Yaakov Stern

Brooklyn, NY

 

The ‘S’ Word (I)
 
   Yasher koach for publishing “Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s “The ‘S’ Word has No Place In A Religious Jew’s Vocabulary” (op-ed, Feb. 2). I find it a shanda that Jews (religious and non-religious) would use a term like “shvartza” when referring to blacks.
 
   The Torah forbids us from using names that hurt people. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names do hurt, and much worse.
 
   Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Don’t judge the book by the cover – read the contents.
 

David N. Rodgers

Hillcrest, NY

 

The ‘S’ Word (II)
 
   I suggest Rabbi Boteach consult a Yiddish dictionary and look up the term “shvartza,” which is not racist but merely a translation of “black.” Many African-Americans refer to themselves as “black.” AOL even has a “Black Voices” online category, and recently a forum of black leaders, headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, discussed “black issues” and referred to themselves as “black.”
 
   I don’t see how a translation of “black” into Yiddish or any other language can be “racist” or “offensive.” Jews have been among the greatest supporters of civil rights for blacks – in fact, Jewish civil rights activists Goodman and Schwerner gave up their lives for the cause. Why castigate Jews as “racist” simply because they use the word of their mother tongue?
 

Chaya Blitzer

Hamden, CT

 

Carter’s Challenge
   Last week C-Span aired the appearance by Jimmy Carter at Brandeis University. During the course of his presentation, Mr. Carter challenged the student body and faculty to organize a group of ten representatives to visit the West Bank, meet with the people there, and draw their own conclusions. This “commission” would report back their findings, which presumably would support Mr. Carter’s assertions as to the situation between Israelis and Palestinians.
 
   Obviously, his suggestion lacked a fundamental, absolutely necessary component – that of speaking with Israelis as well. Such a mission must also necessarily include visiting the families of terror victims, those still in hospitals and forever maimed and affected by homicide bombers, as well as Israelis on the street. Our own judicial system does not accept the word of one party without the benefit of hearing from the other side. Why would Mr. Carter propose an ill-conceived, one-sided method to evaluate such a critical, challenging situation?
 
   The student body, faculty and alumni of Brandeis should take him up on his challenge, appoint a small commission and conduct a fair assessment of the situation. Brandeis has a unique opportunity to accept this challenge and inject some reality and fair-mindedness into this critical debate.
 

Daniel Kaskel, Esq.

Boca Raton, FL

 


 

 

Listen To Your Teens

 

      Thank you for running the Missing Persons notice last week. Unfortunately, we have learned that the police have posted an update: both girls, r”n, were found dead; the scene suggested suicide. We must not allow these two teens to pass in vain. There is a vital lesson all parents must learn and apply, immediately, before it is too late – again.
 
      We don’t know the worries of these two precious girls, or whether they could be reached. Our hearts go out to their parents, families and friends. But it is evident that Rachel Crites, Rachel Smith, and too many other teens see no hope for happiness.
 
      Teenagers go through the toughest times in life. There is great pressure to conform to peers to gain their respect, and to be part of a group. It is all about self-worth. Parental pressures, in the form of control issues, compound matters, as do parents’ foolish vicarious wishes, teens’ obligations in the home, sibling rivalries, and jealousies. Combine a teen’s need for self-esteem and popularity with parents who don’t offer any and you’ve got a lethal mixture.
 
      Are parents eliciting their children’s deepest concerns? Are they sensitive enough to read their children’s faces, their moods, behaviors, and warning signs? Do they sit their child down – even against their will – swallow their roles as superiors, and play the needed role of helper? Parents must initiate conversations, or find someone with whom their teens will open to, even paying them to take on a support and mentoring role.
 
      Teens don’t have any answers, just questions and deep concerns. We must make ourselves available to them in an easy and a clearly genuine demeanor. They must have someone safe in their daily lives to turn to when life gets rough – and we see how rough it gets. For if they have no one to turn to, they turn on themselves. Many times teens are forced to either give up, or teach those who oppress them a hurtful, terminal “lesson” – the last lesson they teach anyone.
 
      We don’t know what’s best for our children simply because they have our last names. We aren’t fit parents simply because we bore these children. To help prevent similar tragedies, all parents must be educated on basics in child and teen psychology. Shuls, yeshivas, and community leaders must organize mandatory adult sessions where experienced professionals teach rules of engagement, education of teens, etc., citing cases and offering solutions.
 
      And schools must incorporate a mandatory class where students may voice social and familial issues. In such a forum, those teens with problems will feel comfort in the knowledge that others also share similar fears and worries. Feeling less ashamed, they will vocalize issues so that those issues can be learned by adults and addressed – instead of swelling to the point of implosion. And those students who don’t yet have these concerns will be educated on what they are and how to properly handle them, as they inevitably will arise.
 
      Although adults must work tirelessly as the breadwinners, children must take priority over business and social agendas. Money can always be earned, and we can always socialize at the next affair. But we cannot postpone a child’s development.
 
   Our children’s secure and happy development will happen with us. Without us, there may be no development at all.
 

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Founder, www.Mesora.org


 

 

‘Pie-In-The-Sky Hopes’

 

      Eli Chomsky writes (“For Israeli-Syrian Talks, op-ed, Jan. 26) that with Syria signaling a willingness to negotiate, President Bush should test Bashar Assad’s intentions and commence a peace process between Israel and Syria.
 
      Mr. Chomsky includes several preconditions to negotiations, including Syria’s full withdrawal from Lebanon, the closing of Syria’s border with Iraq, an end to Syria’s manufacture or acquisition of long-range missiles, and the dismantling of terror groups supported by Syria. Mr. Chomsky suggests that pursuant to a peace agreement, Israel would cede sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but that the Golan would immediately be leased back to Israel so that no Israeli withdrawal would be required.
 
      While Mr. Chomsky’s proposals sound fine on a newspaper page, the notion that Israel could retain the Golan as part of a peace agreement – or that even before negotiations commence, Syria would dismantle Hizbullah and stop its own military buildup – has no relation to reality.
 
      It is axiomatic that peace with Syria would require a complete withdrawal from the Golan, with negotiations relating to ancillary issues such as the exact location to which Israel would withdraw (particularly the international border or the less favorable 1967 border) and the timing of withdrawal. To the extent Syrian concessions concerning terror groups, demilitarization zones and Iraq can be gained, those concessions would be implemented – if ever – only upon the completion of an agreement.
 
      There may be a basis for Israeli-Syrian talks, but policies based on pie-in-the-sky hopes are exactly what has gotten Israel into a situation in which Hizbullah and Hamas are ascendant. Israel and the U.S. share a dire need not for myopic proposals but for the kind of sober and rational analysis usually submitted by Mr. Chomsky in his valuable contributions to The Jewish Press.
 

Joseph Schick

Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

Hamas has succeeded in smuggling “hundreds of tons” of weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip and is preparing for the possibility of launching a large-scale conflict with Israel, according to a report by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

The report, drafted by Fatah’s General Security Services and obtained by WorldNetDaily, states that Hamas has smuggled from the Egyptian Sinai desert between several hundred and 1,300 tons of advanced rockets; anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles; rocket propelled grenades; raw explosives; rifles; ammunition; and other heavy weaponry.

Senior terror leaders in Gaza, including militants from Abbas’s Fatah party, said Gaza is preparing for war.

“We are turning Gaza into south Lebanon,” said Abu Ahmed, northern Gaza leader for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror group. “We learned from Hizbullah’s victory that Israel can be defeated if we know how to hit them and if we are well prepared.”

Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Kassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas’s declared “resistance” department, also said his group is preparing for war against Israel.

“In the last 15 months, even though the fighters of Hamas kept the cease-fire, we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level. In the future, after Hamas is obliged to stop the cease-fire, the world shall see our new military capabilities,” said Abu Abdullah.

Abbas to Request More U.S. Weapons

Following deadly clashes the past few days between his Fatah organization and Hamas members, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is planning to request a large shipment of weapons from the United States, purportedly to arm his group against rival factions, a senior Palestinian official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Abbas has enlisted senior Egyptian and Jordanian officials to help him petition the U.S. for more weapons to arm his group, particularly Fatah security forces in Gaza, against Hamas.

The U.S. government previously sent weapons to Abbas in late May after the Palestinian leader, along with Israel, Egypt and Jordan, requested the arms to bolster Fatah’s Force 17 security forces against possible clashes with Hamas.

In June, this column broke the story of how assault rifles that were part of a cache of weapons transferred by the U.S. made its way to members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, some of whom are also officers of Force 17.

Abu Yousuf, a senior Force 17 officer who is also a Brigades leader, told WND that the U.S. and Israel facilitated the May transfer of weapons to his Force 17 unit “for its own political purposes. We are not concerned with the reasons. The weapons will not be used against our brothers, only [against] Israelis.”

Sources close to the Al Aksa Brigades said the American assault rifles were used in three separate anti-Israel shooting attacks in June, including one that targeted Israeli school girls.

Int’l RedCross to Flood Golan With Syrians?

Syrian President Bashar Assad this week issued a decree urging his citizens to move to the Golan Heights, claiming the International Committee of the Red Cross would help flood the Golan with Syrians.

Assad said the Golan Heights would soon be returned to Syria. His signed statement said Syrians who wish to move to the Golan will be granted approval by “all the relevant authorities.”

Israel officially annexed the Golan in 1981 and controls the territory, which borders Syria and Lebanon and looks down on Israeli population centers. The Red Cross has authority to operate in the Heights, purportedly to facilitate civilian crossings into and out of Syria in humanitarian cases. Israel must approve all cases of Syrian residents moving to the Golan.

The Red Cross can petition for entry for Syrian aid workers assisting its programs. The organization reportedly is building a new medical facility in the Golan.

Assad’s decree follows reports recently confirmed by Israeli intelligence that indiacte Syria is seeking to create a Hizbullah-like guerrilla organization to launch attacks against the Jewish state in hopes of prompting an Israeli retreat from the Golan.

Pope in ‘Crusader Conspiracy’ With Bush

Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting this week with a delegation of Muslim leaders and his calls for interfaith dialogue following earlier remarks about Islam are really “Crusader conspiracies” to subjugate the Islamic faith and force “Christian-Zionist” world views upon Muslims, a prominent Gaza Strip preacher told WND in an interview.

Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Gaza’s Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, which seeks to make secular Muslims more religious, called the pope a “puppet” for “that Crusader George Bush.”

The Gaza imam said the only Christian-Muslim dialogue that is acceptable is one in which “all religions agree to convert to Islam.”

“True believers know Islam must rule all relations. The only dialogue we will accept is when all other religions agree to convert to Islam,” said Abu Saqer.

The preacher was reacting to a speech last month in which Benedict quoted a 14th century scholar who lamented Islam’s spreading the faith by sword and bringing only things that are “evil and inhuman” to the world.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for  WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on America’s top radio programs.

Why Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon Is Wrong About Surrendering The Golan

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Speaking recently to Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper, Israel’s Chief of General Staff commented that withdrawal from the Golan Heights would not endanger Israel’s security. According to Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) could defend the country’s borders even if a political decision were taken to leave the 620-square mile strategic plateau. Israel formally annexed the Golan in 1981 after defeating Syrian aggression earlier, in 1967. Long very important in Jewish history, the Golan area’s population of about 35,000 is divided evenly between Israelis and Druse Arabs. Notwithstanding General Yaalon’s assurances, an Israeli Golan withdrawal, from an area less the 1 percent of Syria’s total size, could leave the northern region of Israel open to Syrian or even Iranian invasion through the Jordan Valley. (History records that more than 60 assaults on the Land of Israel west of the Jordan were launched from or through the Golan.) Such a withdrawal could also destroy and uproot 32 Golan Jewish communities and threaten fully a third of Israel’s water supply.

Yaalon’s rationale is almost certainly based on the following presumption: Without an Israel-Syria peace agreement (there is still, at Syria’s sole insistence, an official state of war between the two countries), a major war could result at any time from confrontation with Hizbullah terrorists on Israel’s northern border. And any Israeli plan to prevent such a war with Syria, which backs these terrorists in Lebanon, would require a demilitarized Golan Heights. The problem here, is that Syrian demilitarization of the Golan, which is roughly the size of New York City’s borough of Queens, would never work.

Unlike the concept of Palestinian demilitarization, which is often discussed with reference to creating a “safe” Palestinian state, the key issue here has nothing to do with “legal personality.” Rather, in the matter of Golan demilitarization, the issue concerns more traditional international obligations of “good faith” and various associated difficulties of enforcement. In essence, the problem of Golan demilitarization stems from the undeniable shortcomings of legal guarantees in a world where the very idea of an “international community” has now become self-parody.

A Golan agreement with Syria would surely permit Israel to operate its own early-warning stations, but these facilities could not be an adequate substitute for effective defense. In order to get such permission, Syria might be offered certain reciprocal ground station oppotunities. Indeed, in July 1995 then-Prime Minister Rabin even offered the Syrians stations within pre-1967 Israel as compensation.

For real security, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) must retain its positions on the Golan for constant surveillance of the Syrian army. Pre-1967 warning stations do not have a clear line of sight deep into Syrian territory. Not surprisingly, a large number of former Israeli intelligence officers, regardless of party affiliation, continue to oppose any Israeli dependence upon third parties for information concerned with national survival decisions. Even a demilitarized Golan with early warning based upon an expanded American role and on the most technologically advanced satellite systems would not be enough. In the event of a warning failure, which is always possible (e.g., the case of the Yom Kippur War in 1973), Syrian tanks could conceivably penetrate into Israel.

What can Israel hope to achieve from a so- called peace agreement with Syria? Talks between the two countries have effectively been stalled since 2000 because of Syrian intransigence. As Yaalon himself noted, Syria already has “missiles that put all of Israel in range, and chemical capabilties.” An Israeli departure from the Golan would do nothing to change this primary strategic situation. Nor would it likely reduce the prospect of an escalation to all-out war on the Lebanese front or reduce the influence of certain Palestinian terrorist factions still based securely in Damascus.

What about American troops on a demilitarized Golan, an idea still fashionable in some circles associating an Israeli withdrawal with a Syrian “peace.” Stationed in a very small area, such deployment would surely place these troops in grave danger from well-armed terrorists and from proxies of hostile regimes. More than likely, American forces would be drawn into both inter-Arab and Arab-Israeli disputes.

Further, Israel’s military dependence upon the United States could grow to unmanageable levels; and Syria might even come to see the American presence as an affront to its own sovereignty. In that event, Syria’s President could be expected to push for prompt removal of the U.S. force, a demand similar to Egypt’s 1967 demand for U.N. withdrawal from Sinai. Ironically, that demand led to the Six- Day War, which gave rise to Syria’s Golan loss in the first place.

For all these reasons a demilitarized Golan could not assure Israel’s basic security. According to an informed statement several years back by four Israeli (res.) generals (Y. Sagui; M. Ram; D. Hagoel; and A. Levran): “Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights constitutes the optimal strategic balance with Syria and insurance against a massive Syrian attack. The IDF’s proximity to Damascus is also a guarantee against a Syrian missile launch into Israel’s rear. Any change in this balance would lessen Israel’s deterrent against potential Syrian aggression and jeopardize the quiet and stability that have characterized the Golan since 1974.” As for the use of American troops: “Involving American troops on the Golan Heights, whether as ‘monitors’ or ‘peacekeepers’ or in some other role, would be a blunder.”

The Golan, which ranges up to a height of 2300 feet, dominates the Jordan Valley, the lowest point on Earth. On this strategic plateau, there are only two natural terrain bottlenecks. These choke points are defensible. But with the Golan in Syrian hands, however “demilitarized,” thousands of enemy tanks, backed up by missiles and aircraft, could still penetrate Israel.

Demilitarization of the Golan Heights can never be consistent with Israel’s security. From the standpoint of international law, such proposed Syrian demilitarization would cause great strategic and diplomatic difficulties for Israel. Recognizing this, it is now up to the government of Israel to ensure that the Golan remain firmly in Israeli hands and that Gen. Yaalon’s ill-advised recommendation be rejected.

(c) Copyright The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on international law.

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