Archive for May, 2011

Whose land is it, anyway?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Who do the territories belong to?

In Hebrew, with English subtitles. Definitely worth your 6 minutes.

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Lawyers, experts: unilateral declaration of ‘Palestine’ is illegal

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Are you tired of hearing nonsense like “settlements are illegal under international law,” something which seems to accompany every BBC story?

Do you think Barack Obama was talking through his hat when he demanded that Israel pay the Palestinian Arabs with land from pre-1967 Israel for every square centimeter of land it keeps beyond the armistice lines?

Do you wonder, in the light of the Arab plan to unilaterally declare a state, if the San Remo Resolution, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Oslo Accords and even the Roadmap are chopped liver?

Are you bothered by the demands of the Palestinians, with the acquiescence of Barack Obama, to replay the 1948 ethnic cleansing of eastern Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria?

Well, if that’s what’s bothering you, you are in the competent company of numerous attorneys and experts in international law — the real international law, not the made-up one that’s quoted by the BBC and anti-Israel NGOs — who wrote the following letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last week:

His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations,
1st Avenue & 44th St., New York, NY 10017
May 25, 2011


Re: The proposed General Assembly resolution to recognize a Palestinian State “within 1967 borders” — an illegal action

We, the undersigned, attorneys from across the world who are involved in general matters of international law, as well as being closely concerned with the Israeli- Palestinian dispute, appeal to you to use your influence and authority among the member states of the UN, with a view to preventing the adoption of the resolution that the Palestinian delegation intends to table at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, to recognize a Palestinian state “within the 1967 borders”.

By all standards and criteria, such a resolution, if adopted, would be in stark violation of all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as contravening UN Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973) and those other resolutions based thereon. Our reasoning is as follows:

1. The legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel was the resolution unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel. This included the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, and close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed by both houses of the US Congress.

2. Article 80 of the UN Charter determines the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). Accordingly the above-noted League resolution remains valid, and the 650,000 Jews presently resident in the areas of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, reside there legitimately.

3. “The 1967 borders” do not exist, and have never existed. The 1949 Armistice Agreements entered into by Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing the Armistice Demarcation Lines, clearly stated that these lines “are without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto”. Accordingly they cannot be accepted or declared to be the international boundaries of a Palestinian state.

4. UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) called upon the parties to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and specifically stressed the need to negotiate in order to achieve “secure and recognized boundaries”.

5. The Palestinian proposal, in attempting to unilaterally change the status of the territory and determine the “1967 borders” as its recognized borders, in addition to running squarely against resolutions 242 and 338, would be a fundamental breach of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in which the parties undertook to negotiate the issue of borders and not act to change the status of the territories pending outcome of the permanent status negotiations.

6. The Palestinians entered into the various agreements constituting what is known as the “Oslo Accords” in the full knowledge that Israel’s settlements existed in the areas, and that settlements would be one of the issues to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations.  Furthermore, the Oslo Accords impose no limitation on Israel’s settlement activity in those areas that the Palestinians agreed would continue to be under Israel’s jurisdiction and control pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations.

7. While the Interim Agreement was signed by Israel and the PLO, it was witnessed by the UN together with the EU, the Russian Federation , the US, Egypt and Norway. It is thus inconceivable that such witnesses, including first and foremost the UN, would now give license to a measure in the UN aimed at violating this agreement and undermining major resolutions of the Security Council.

8. While the UN has maintained a persistent policy of non-recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem pending a negotiated solution, despite Israel’s historic rights to the city, it is inconceivable that the UN would now recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, the borders of which would include eastern Jerusalem. This would represent the ultimate in hypocrisy, double standards and discrimination, as well as an
utter disregard of the rights of Israel and the Jewish People.

9. Such unilateral action by the Palestinians could give rise to reciprocal initiatives in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) which could include proposed legislation to declare Israel’s sovereignty over extensive parts of Judea and Samaria, if and when the Palestinians carry out their unilateral action.


It appears to be patently clear to all that the Palestinian exercise, aimed at advancing their political claims, represents a cynical abuse of the UN Organization and of the members of the General Assembly. Its aim is to by-pass the negotiation process called-for by the Security Council.

Regrettably this abuse of the UN and its integrity, in addition to undermining international law, has the potential to derail the Middle-East peace process.

We trust that you will use your authority to protect the UN and its integrity from this abuse, and act to prevent any affirmation or recognition of this dangerous Palestinian initiative.


Ambassador (Ret) Attorney Baker Alan, Ambassador (Ret) Dr. Rosenne Meir, Dr. Arnon Harel, Adv., Prof. Einhorn Talia, Prof. Shochetman Eliav, Abu Lior, Adv., Asraf Shlomo, Adv. (LL.B, LL.M), Baba-Nahary Merav, Adv., Benjamin Aryeh N., Adv. LL.M, Ben-Shahar Meir, Adv. LL.B, LL.M, Bulshtein Ariel, Adv., Burstyn Yitzhak Adv. LL.M, Carmi Anat, Adv., Cohen Hila, Adv., Daniely Mirit, Adv., David Liat, Adv. (LL.B, LL.M), Dermer Yossi, Adv., Eagle Shira, Adv., Eisenberg M., Adv., Elad Cohen, Adv., Elkalay Shimrit, Adv., Friedman Shlomo, Adv., Fuchs Yossi ,Adv., Ganan Yuval, Adv., Goelman Avinoam, Adv., Goldman Ezra Adv., Guggenheim Chanania U. Adv., Hacohen Itay, Adv., Harshoshanim Ariel, Adv., Hershkovitz David, Adv. LL.M, Jarden Elon, Adv., Kavatz Gad, Adv., Koslowe Avital Adv. (LL.B, LL.M), Lapidot Harel, Adv., Lapidot Ohad Ziv, Adv., Levy Yechezkel, Adv. LL.M., Magen Alon, Adv. LL.B, Meiri Eddy, Esq., Morginstin Philip B., Adv. Nadel Gill, Adv., Naor Avi, Adv., Nimni Eliyahu, Adv., Nir-Tzvi Doron, Adv., Orbach Nir, Adv., Peretz Yitzhak, Adv. (LLB, Hons.), Rotenberg Zvi E., Adv., Shaya Dotan, Adv., Shimon Yehuda Arye, Adv., Shmuelyan Eli, Adv., Tamari Amir, Adv., Tamari Ilana, Adv., Teplow Michael I., J.D adv., Vaknin Emanuel, Adv., Weistuch Elad, Adv., Wiseman Gabriel, Adv., Yamin Uri, Adv., Zell Mark, Adv.

I can’t resist adding a few points about the moral case to the legal one above:

The Arabs’ stated goal in 1967 was to destroy Israel and massacre its inhabitants. They lost the war. If Israel in 1973 had not had the strategic depth provided by the territory it captured, that war would probably have ended with thousands of Israeli civilians dead. Why is it considered just to reverse the outcome of Israel’s successful self-defense?

Hamas is an unrepentantly antisemitic organization with genocidal goals. Fatah is the same, although it presents a more moderate face in English. Hamas and Fatah are now full partners. If Nazi Germany wanted to be a UN member, would it be allowed to join?

There is no ‘Palestine’ today because the Palestinian Arabs have never accepted any of the partition proposals since 1937, since they refuse to admit that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state. They’ve made it clear that they will continue to ‘resist the occupation’ of the rest of Israel even after they get a state. Why should the world validate their self-definition as a aggressor nation?

Shouldn’t there be some kind of downside for them as a result of their years of terrorism and murder? Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israeli cities as I write. Don’t they have to stop making war before they are granted statehood?

The Hamas/Fatah Palestinian Authority has been holding Gilad Shalit incommunicado for five years, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Both Hamas and Fatah seem to think they have a right to do so. Don’t they have to stop committing war crimes before they are granted statehood?

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Israel needs a plan, but it’s not what some think

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Rabbi Eric Yoffie (the outgoing president of the Union for Reform Judaism) writes about a discussion he’s had with his Israeli friend ‘Shmuel’:

Shmuel, echoing Netanyahu, told me again that the Palestinians are responsible for the absence of peace. I responded, as I have before, that he is absolutely right. The leaders of Israel, at different times, have offered terms that any sane Palestinian leader should have enthusiastically embraced. This happened in 2000 and again in 2008. But the Palestinians have never had the courage to do what needs to be done. And, with Hamas in their coalition, it is hard to believe that this will change.

I then asked Shmuel, as I have a thousand times before: What happens now? Yes, I tell him, you are right. The Palestinians are at fault, but so what? A UN resolution will pass at the General Assembly in September, recognizing a Palestinian state. Israel’s international position is deteriorating. Economic sanctions might follow. And worse yet, elements of Palestinian leadership are already proposing a one-state solution—a single Jewish/Arab state in Palestine, with equal rights for all. If the proposal is accepted, Jews will become a minority in the new state; if it is rejected, Israel will be portrayed to the world as an apartheid state.

So, I ask, what is the plan? Even if we are completely right and the Palestinians are completely wrong, what do we do now to head off these very real dangers?

I disagree with some of Yoffie’s formulations — it isn’t “courage” the Palestinians have lacked, it’s desire — but I agree that Israel needs a plan. So what kind of plan will it be? Yoffie doesn’t say precisely:

These conversations always end the same way. Shmuel and I both love Israel and believe that the Palestinian rejection of the Jewish state is the heart of the problem. But he stubbornly refuses to see that current realities in the real world require Israel to make some tough choices, and even though he is not a very religious man, he prefers to leave things in the hands of God. As for me, I believe that the outlook at the moment is rather grim, that continuing on the current course will lead to disaster, and that what Israel needs right now is a plan.

Yoffie is on the left side of the ideological spectrum, so I can guess that the “tough choices” that would comprise his plan would involve further Israeli concessions to the Palestinians in order to preempt the diplomatic attack planned for September.

This is the position we invariably hear from the moderate Left — the situation is unsustainable, Israel has to ‘take risks’ — in other words, make concessions damaging to its security — to change it, otherwise bad things will happen.

Israel does have to make tough choices, but they are not in the direction that Rabbi Yoffie seems to think. Here are some undeniable facts:

  • The Fatah/Hamas Palestinian Authority will not make peace on receipt of even all the post-1967 territories. The most ‘moderate’ elements in the coalition have made it clear that they will not recognize pre-1967 Israel as a Jewish state, they will press for ‘right of return’ and for ‘de-Zionization’ to ensure ‘national rights’ for the Arab population within Israel. So concessions will weaken Israel from a strategic standpoint without ending the conflict.
  • Neither the Palestinians nor the European Union and anti-Israel elements in the Obama Administration will be happy with anything less than a near-complete reversal of the 1967 war. So no practical concessions will satisfy even their immediate demands.
  • No Israeli concessions will have any effect on the plans of Iranian proxy Hizballah to attack Israel in the near term with its massive missile force (built up since 2006 under the nose of the same UN that is demanding Israeli withdrawal).
  • No concessions will cause Hamas, soon to be supported by Egypt, to give up its plan to attack southern Israel with rockets and cross-border terrorism.
  • No concessions will cause Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons.

The Arabs have a guaranteed majority in the UN General Assembly, so they will pass whatever resolutions they want to in September. Since the only concession that could satisfy them would be a massive airlift of Israel’s Jewish population to Poland, the idea of heading off the diplomatic assault by preemptively surrendering is a bad one.

So what is the plan? What are the “tough choices?”

My thought is that they should be changes in the direction of increasing security, not decreasing it. The Deputy Speaker of Israel’s Knesset, Danny Danon, suggests that the “tough choices” should include annexing parts of the post-1967 territories.

Certainly that would anger the Palestinians, the Obama Administration, and the EU. But they are already doing all they can to weaken Israel.

Keep in mind the virtual certainty of war with at least Hizballah and possibly Hamas as well within the next year. Strategic depth will be critical. The last thing Israel needs is an additional front a few miles from Tel Aviv.

Rabbi Yoffie is a Zionist, but he appears to be locked into the the ancient mode of Diaspora thinking: the Jews can get the antisemites to stop trying to kill them if they, the Jews, will just give them what they want. But what they want is no more Jews, so it really isn’t possible to solve the problem this way.

By the way, even the liberal Rabbi Yoffie is apparently too pro-Israel for the leadership of the Reform movement. They propose to replace him with someone from the other side.

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From HST to BHO

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

On May 14, 1948, the day the state of Israel was declared, President Harry S. Truman extended de facto recognition to the Jewish government, making the US the first country to recognize Israel.

Over the years the relationship has waxed and waned, but it’s safe to say that since 1967 the US has been Israel’s closest ally, the address that Israel has turned to in times of trouble. And Israel has done plenty for the US as well, much of it not generally known.

Despite what the antisemites say, US policy has not always been aligned with Israel’s. But until recently it was true that US policy honestly favored Israel’s survival as a Jewish state. Now I’m not sure it’s still possible to say that.

President Obama has supported the Palestinian Arabs in their drive for unilateral statehood. Yes, I know he says he opposes it, but he torpedoed negotiations with Israel twice — once by introducing construction freezes in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem as preconditions, and now by doing the same for the pre-1967 lines. He’s blamed Israel for the lack of negotiations, thus clearing the unilateral path for the Fatah-Hamas Palestinian authority.

His administration has indicated that it does not plan to keep the promises made by the previous administration in regard to settlement blocs and Arab refugees. These promises were made in order to encourage Ariel Sharon to withdraw from Gaza. Israel withdrew in 2005, and in 2009 war followed. The incoming Obama Administration ordered Israel to exit Gaza before the inauguration.

Obama helped push out the Mubarak regime, which while not exactly pro-Israel was certainly an enemy of Israel’s enemies. At the same time he is reticent about applying pressure against Syrian dictator Assad, an ally of Iran and deadly enemy of Israel. The US also stood aside as the Iranian proxy Hizballah took almost complete control of Lebanon, and went easy on the vicious Iranian regime itself.

Obama makes no effort to hide his dislike for Israel’s Prime Minister, once deliberately humiliating him by making him wait while he went to dinner. His recent policy initiative was only disclosed to Netanyahu hours before he was about to get on a plane to come to the US. This is not the way to treat a close ally.

Obama visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt in 2009 — he made his notorious ‘Cairo speech’ then, in which he compared the Holocaust to Palestinian suffering “in pursuit of a homeland” — but has not visited Israel as President.

Many of Obama’s closest advisers, like Samantha Power, hold anti-Israel positions, and are allowed to float disturbingly hostile trial balloons in friendly places like the New York Times.

In his relations with the Jewish community, he’s elevated the phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby J Street, which almost invariably takes positions against the Jewish state while — like Obama — proclaiming its pro-Israelness. One of his first actions as President was to hold a meeting at the White House for “Jewish leaders” — naturally he invited Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street while snubbing the oldest pro-Israel group of all, the Zionist Organization of America, as well as the Orthodox and Zionist National Council of Young Israel.

Time and again it’s been demonstrated that the American people and the Congress that represents them support Israel far more than the President and his advisers. The 29 standing ovations PM Netanyahu received during his recent speech (more than Obama got in his State of the Union) are evidence of this.

Obama often sugar-coats his poison pills for Israel by saying that the US commitment to Israel’s security in ‘unshakeable’. But we know that in 2008 he spoke at a dinner for his friend, Palestinian academic Rashid Khalidi, and — although a videotape of that talk is locked up in the vaults of the LA Times — his actual position may not be as pro-Israel as he says:

The extraordinary thing about [the LA Times story about the event] “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama” is that in it, Obama’s supporters say that in claiming to be pro-Israel, he is hiding his true views from the public. Having observed his personal associations, his open political alliances, his public statements, and his private remarks, Obama’s Palestinian allies steadfastly maintain that Obama’s private views are far more pro-Palestinian than he lets on.

I’ll bet that the editors of the LA Times could talk all day about ‘the public’s right to know’. And if, as Obama says, he’s a true friend of Israel, he has nothing to hide.

This is far more important than a birth certificate — come on, LA Times, let’s see that tape.

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The neurotic ‘peace’ movement

Friday, May 27th, 2011

So you think Israel’s “peace movement” should be allowed out to play unsupervised?

In an op-ed piece for Ma’ariv, Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer called Netanyahu’s behavior “unprecedented.”

It was no coincidence, he explained, that the Prime Minister’s “Israeli arrogance broke records,” and that “sentences that are supposed to be said behind closed doors and in internal discussions were exhibited for all to see in a condescending and ugly manner.”

Netanyahu’s “supercilious and patronizing attitude” in “scolding” Obama stems from the fact that Obama, the first black American president, is not part of the same social milieu as former presidents like Bush, Reagan and Clinton “and the like,” he went on. Netanyahu did everything he could to “humiliate and hurt” Obama, Oppenheimer told his Israeli readers.

Right-wing American Jews are also guilty of the same attitude, he went on.

Obama’s speech would not have earned the same amount of public condemnations and insults had Obama been “a rich white American president,” concluded Oppenheimer. Netanyahu, he said, should judge Obama by his deeds, which are supportive of Israel, “rather than his ethnicity, his past and the background he grew up in.”Israel National News

This is beyond crazy. I quoted Netanyahu’s comments and linked to the complete transcript here. I challenge anyone to find a single word that is “supercilious or patronizing.” There is of course the small matter that the PM disagreed with the President.

In fact I, a supposedly “right-wing American Jew” who as a matter of fact is registered as a Democrat, am the one who is insulted at being called a racist for doing the same thing — criticizing Obama for taking a sharp anti-Israel turn in policy.

But that’s not all:

Under the banner “Netanyahu said ‘no.’ Israelis say, ‘yes,’” leftwing groups plan to rally for a Palestinian state on Saturday night, June 4, in Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke in Washington Tuesday about recognizing a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations, but he put forward so many pre-conditions that he made such talks impossible, said Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer.

To be accurate, Netanyahu did not lay down ‘preconditions’ for negotiations. He’s said numerous times that he would begin negotiations immediately if the Palestinians would. Yes, he has insisted upon some conditions for a final settlement, but that refers to the outcome of the negotiations.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, refuse to even sit down until their demands are met. And Obama, who first demanded construction freezes and now talks about “1967 lines” gives them ammunition to hold out. As someone recently said “Abbas can’t be less Palestinian than the President.” Indeed.

I think Oppenheimer’s ill-advised and even stupid comments are revealing. They reveal that he does not believe that the Jew Among Nations has a rightful place alongside the nations that make up the ‘real’ world. On Oppenheimer’s planet, the voice of a Jew can’t be raised against that of a gentile, even if that Jew is a Prime Minister of a sovereign state.

Like so many others, Oppenheimer is a “sha, shtil!” Jew:

Throughout the history of the Diaspora, Jews have become almost genetically programmed to embrace the philosophy that they must meekly submit to the will of their rulers, that the worst thing to do was to call attention to themselves. Back-room politics was the preferred way to get things done, in places that Jews could exercise that prerogative. This was a very good survival tactic for a small nation that was spread out in the world.

Zionism brought with it an alternative method: defending your people from a position of pride and a knowledge that you are right.

These two methods have clashed in the past. During the Holocaust, there were many (mostly religious) Jews who tirelessly fought behind the scenes to save as many Jews as possible; there were others who fearlessly went public with their battles – much to the dismay of Jews who were raised with the idea of the Yiddish “Sha, shtil!” – “Shut up!” …

Israel finds itself still under attack by the “Sha, shtil” Jews, Jews who are fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of fellow Jews acting truly independently. These Jews cannot wrap their heads around the idea of Israel proudly acting for its own best interests, or at best, acting against what they arrogantly believe are Israel’s best interests from the Diaspora.

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