Leaving the West Bank

In recent weeks I’ve had to repeat, several times, that I advocate a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank to the portion of Judea and Samaria that is west of the Security Fence. I don’t believe this will constitute a final border, but it will remove a pretty sharp arrowhead from Israel’s bleeding achilles heel.

To be clear, I consider the West Bank to be “disputed” territory and not occupied. I believe this land is the cradle of Jewish civilization, perhaps to a greater degree even than where Israel is situated today. I abhor the bigotry that causes the Arabs to seek to remove all of the Jews from their midst. I am fully aware that the Palestinians do not seek a Jewish state called Israel to exist next to them and have designs on the entire area (including Jordan).

I have little sympathy for the Palestinians and their war on Israel. They could have and should have made peace long ago, and the formula has been on the table for almost a decade. In other words, I don’t believe that justice rests with the Palestinians. They have not earned a state or the right to a state. They have shown in Gaza that left to their own devices, they will use their resources to wage war rather than build their society and economy.

The weepy Left excuses all of these shortcomings, usually by blaming Israel: “the Occupation;” “the starvation of Palestinians;” “genocide;” “cruelty;” “collective punishment;” “resistance;” etc. They fall all over themselves justifying Palestinian terrorism, Palestinian war-mongering, Palestinian anti-Semitism and even Palestinian lies and perfidy.

For example, if you read a number of the anti-Zionist blog-sites out there, even ones written by Jews, they have taken recent Palestinian claims about ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls at face value. They actually call Israelis thieves for possessing the Scrolls even though the Scrolls are written in Hebrew and Aramaic, contain the books of the Torah, and other writings that relate to religious life and belief among those Judeans who lived in the area we now call the West Bank a couple of thousand years ago. There could not be a clearer case of artifacts bearing the cultural heritage of a people than the relationship between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish people. And yet, in a cynical game played by the very same people who declare openly that Jews have no historic, religious or cultural connection to the Land of Israel, the Palestinians claim and demand ownership of these treasures of Jewish history.

In other words, morality is not the Palestinians’ strong suit. Their sympathizers have to twist themselves into awkward pretzel-like shapes to excuse the behavior of the Palestinians over this past century of conflict. Of course, they do it by constantly casting blame upon the Jews and upon Zionists.

By leaving most of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, Israel would be handing over this important area to the Palestinians.

Then again, the Israelis are far from perfect themselves. The ongoing construction of settlements over the past 40 years has been an epic mistake.

Regardless of the strong links between Judea and Samaria and the Jewish people, it was clear from 1967 that settlement construction was a questionable pursuit. I’m not talking about neighborhoods surrounding Jerusalem – those are perfectly legitimate. I’m talking about those settlements that are far from the Green Line that are intended to be not just residential areas but outposts marking Jewish territory.

The problem is that these outposts are oil to the fire of the conflict because they represent an Israeli refusal to compromise and share the land – precisely the same sin of which the Palestinians are justifiably accused.

This is where the wacky Rightists come in and exclaim that the settlements are no different than, say, Tel Aviv (as in, if one is a settlement, so is the other); that settlers are and must be treated and defended like every other Israeli (even if they need a platoon or three to defend their little outpost); that God gave this land to Israel; that the Palestinians, all two to 3 million who live there, can leave or accept Israeli military rule in their midst; that superior resources available to Israeli settlers are understandable even if the Palestinians do not enjoy the same; and, of course, what is never said out loud but is believed by the staunchest settlers…that one day there will be another war, a vicious one, and somehow, by magic, the Palestinians will be made to leave. To jordan. To Lebanon. To Syria. Wherever.

If many settlers – and here I differentiate between the hard-core settlers and the majority of settlers – along with their strong supporters didn’t believe this, then they would not continue to build outposts in the heart of the West Bank. As a result, this well organized and highly ideological group compels Israeli government to act and move forward in ways that may be beneficial to the settlers, but are not necessarily beneficial to the majority of Israelis who live inside the Green Line or in Jerusalem neighborhoods built after 1967.

The presence of Israeli soldiers among a Palestinian society is a necessary evil. They are needed to prevent terrorism against Israeli civilians. They are there to defend the lives of Israelis who are also settlers. They ensure that Israel maintains the upper hand militarily even as it faces numerous enemies.

But the presence of Israeli soldiers among the Palestinian population also has an ugly side. Young boys are turned into young men once they join the IDF. And yet, with little life experience, they are assigned to watch over Arabs young and old. These young men are sent with guns to lord it over people without guns.

It is not so simple to be an Israeli soldier in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria – regular army or post-service (miluim) – because they are the ones on the front lines who have to make ethical decisions at all times because of their position of power and strength. It is here, where the common Israeli experience of military service intersects with the role of superior strength embodied in the soldier watching a civilian (generally hostile) population, that Israel and its society face their greatest challenge. It is easy to hate another, but it eats you from inside. It is easy to wield guns to keep another population in line but doing so indiscriminately, which is a by-product of maintaining control over another society, assaults and undermines your good intentions. Nobody can be trusted; the Other is always the enemy; their lives are made more difficult so that yours and those whom you protect can be safer or just more comfortable.

Standing as a soldier among the Palestinians inevitably changes both the person and the society from which s/he comes. While leaving most of the West Bank will not remove Palestinian enmity or hatred, and may well open the door to attacks against Israel as we saw and see in Gaza, it will change what Israelis are going through individually and as a society because they rule over Palestinians.

There will also be pragmatic benefits to leaving Judea and Samaria and focusing Israeli settlement on the areas closer to and inside the Green Line. The first and most important is the demographic issue facing Israel as the Palestinian population grows. Unless Israel wants to end up an apartheid state, it must disengage from the Palestinian population. Second, Israel’s friendship with its closest ally, the USA, will improve dramatically. The settlements have been a source of friction since Jimmy Carter’s days in office and every President since has been critical of the settlements and their growth.

Also, Israel wastes billions of shekels supporting and even building settlements instead of using that scarce money and energy to develop new settlements and communities inside Israel. Sometimes, it is now believed, Israel actually turned a blind eye to settlements that were built on private Palestinian land, which is illegal under Israeli law.

As if those reasons for leaving most of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria weren’t sufficient, one must consider that the IDF is stretched thin and wears itself out doing tasks that should be replaced with training for wartime; that Israel’s international standing is undermined and potential allies turn away in frustration and anger; that the possibility of the Palestinians actually moving toward peace becomes even less likely; and, quite important, that one of the key issues dividing Israel’s supporters and those who would support it, will be eliminated.

This is why I was heartened to read today that Benjamin Netanyahu’s nominee for ambassador to the UN, the superb and well respected historian Michael Oren, state in an public talk,

“The only alternative for Israel to save itself as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating most of the settlements.”

“I may be the last of the standing unilateralists,” he said. “The only thing that can save Israel as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing our settlements from the West Bank,” and waiting for a new Palestinian leadership.

Oren said he does not believe that a solution to the conflict could be achieved at this stage. Instead we should find ways to “better manage the conflict, to relieve tensions and ameliorate the conditions under which people live to ensure against future flare ups.”

“Peace as a solution is not a question of next week but a generational issue,” he said. “One of the lessons that the failed Oslo process has taught us is that peace must be built from the bottom up. We cannot impose peace from the top down, it doesn’t percolate from the top down.”

There’s more in this short article that suggests that Dr. Oren is a sane man who sees the forest despite the trees. That Netanyahu sees him as someone who should represent Israel in the country of its most important ally, the USA, is also heartening and may indicate that there’s a softening position in this new Israeli government regarding the settlements.

We’ll see.

I have some hope.

(image by Efrat Nakash)

142 Comments

  1. ck

    4/24/2009 at 6:03 am

    Bastard! I’m in Israel and posted about California, you’re somewhere vaguely on the West Coast and you posted about Israel! And I was just gonna write a post about that very same article, but you beat me to it. oh well.

    So… is unilateral withdrawal now the hallmark of the moderate right? I thought Oren was supposed to be this big right wing demagogue (according to the lonnie Jew left)? And how do we prevent the Gazafication of the WB? I was just in Atlit where the factories are literally abutting the town of Ram. Oy. It’s a tough call either way.

  2. themiddle

    4/24/2009 at 6:39 am

    If it’s any consolation, I’m sure your post on this subject would have been amusing and filled with images of women’s privates clad in sexy underpants. So I, for one, now regret having published this post and preempting yours.

    I’ve heard Oren speak and he’s fairly pragmatic. If one considers him political, I’d say he’s slightly right of center.

    I’m not sure one can prevent the Gazafication of the West Bank. But here is one idea: take some of that land west of the fence and leave it barren. A no-man’s land dividing the two nations. In those places where that’s impossible, Israel can have a bulldozer policy: if an attack emanates from a source, everything within a certain perimeter of that location is razed to the ground to prevent the next attack. Maybe this will be insufficient. Maybe you need to add targeted attacks against Palestinian leaders as long as attacks against Israel persist. I don’t know. My point is that it’s still better to be out of there than in there.

  3. Happy-Balagan

    4/24/2009 at 6:52 am

    Pulling out of Gaza was a disaster. It lead to more violence, and the more time passes, the more it is clear to everyone that it was a mistake.

    Israel recieved no good will from the palestinians, or the world at large.

    Ultimately, we can not retreat. It isn’t a question of fairness, it is a matter of practical realities.

  4. themiddle

    4/24/2009 at 6:58 am

    The practical reality is that the Palestinians have moved on to the “apartheid regime” endgame and this is one war Israel will lose. Unless you know what to do with a couple of million Palestinians to whom you don’t want to give citizenship, you better have an answer to that. And no, you won’t get away with it because there is only one thing that will stand between Israel becoming the next pariah state like South Africa, and that is the power of US support for Israel. Except that now the US is the latest battle-ground in the war over Israel and based on recent developments, I would not bet that long-term the US won’t end up viewing the Israelis the way the Europeans do already. It’s the “occupation,” stupid.

  5. Michael W.

    4/24/2009 at 8:30 am

    I think Israel should have pulled the settlements in Gaza and the smaller ones in the West Bank and then negotiate everything else. It has to make this gesture to jump start anything resembling a peace process. It can still maintain the checkpoints and the security barrier, but it has to show to everybody what is Israel’s main goal.

  6. LB

    4/24/2009 at 8:53 am

    What about the rockets? When people said this about Gaza – they were called crazy, but unfortunately they were right. Yes, there are some defense systems that supposedly work. But none are in place yet, and there’s no guarantee they will work. So we just pull out in advance – or wait until they work in Gaza first?

    Second, how do you suppose this withdrawal can be carried out? Gaza was a cinch compared to this – relatively little opposition (nationally, media, and in Gaza), and a far smaller number of people. What do you do when you have ten times as many people to be kicked out of their homes and so much less support among soldiers to carry out this operation?

    Third, if there is to be even a modicum of support among the residents themselves – how do you overcome the fact that the government royally f**ked the Gaza settlers – and still is? How are residents of the wb supposed to have any faith that they, too, won’t be living in glorified cardboard boxes 3.5 years from now – being told they might have real homes in two years?

  7. Tom Morrissey

    4/24/2009 at 10:54 am

    Is Oren distinguishing between dismantling settlements and withdrawing a military presence? If so, this makes sense. A long-term threat to a hoped-for two-state solution is removed, while security preserved indefinitely pending a final deal.

    Excellent post– I’d make three points. First, Middle perhaps isn’t as tough as he should be on the Israeli political class. The settlers have at least acted with integrity, in accordance with their beliefs. The politicians, especially those on the right, have failed to take a firm stance on settlements. If Begin wanted to annex the West Bank, he should have done so. There’s been nothing but equivocation since.

    Second, ambiguity about its intentions has cost Israel dearly in world opinion. Israel’s 1967 victory was celebrated throughout western Europe, right? I don’t think Israel should abase itself to curry favor abroad. But a settlement withdrawal will put the moral burden squarely on the Arabs’ shoulders. The international climate will improve dramatically.

    Third, peace, if it comes, will be arranged and secured by other countries and not Israel and the Palestinians. A consensus will form around a final agreement, which will thus be internationally enforceable. The parties, in other words, can’t do this on their own.

    Why, for example, does Putin tolerate Estonia– despite, for example, its substantial ethnic Russian population? Because for a hundred reasons, he can’t invade the place without there being hell to pay. Similarly, the Arabs and the West will have to agree that a deal is a deal, part of the int’l. security landscape and not subject to revision. In the end the world will decide enough is enough, and at that point we’ll have two states.

  8. Ruth

    4/24/2009 at 11:00 am

    You can’t keep the settlements without the military presence. Could you??

  9. Tom Morrissey

    4/24/2009 at 11:06 am

    By the way– during the recent conflict, why didn’t the Gazafication of Gaza result in the Gazafication of the WB, which remained quiet? An inconvenient detail for the slippery-slopers.

  10. ML

    4/24/2009 at 12:50 pm

    Ruth, why not?

  11. LB

    4/24/2009 at 2:49 pm

    Tom – “why didn’t the Gazafication of Gaza result in the Gazafication of the WB?”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “slippery-slopers”, but it’s because Israel was, and is, actually in control of the WB, on the inside – unlike Gaza.

  12. Tom Morrissey

    4/24/2009 at 3:03 pm

    There was little violence of any kind on the WB, much less something on the scale of rocket attacks. Fatah didn’t do it because it wasn’t in their interests. Has the Israeli military presence prevented past WB violence (see, e.g., two intifadas)?

  13. LB

    4/24/2009 at 3:12 pm

    If Fatah were truly a group that acted in their own self-interest, there would have been a Palestinian state long ago.

    Israeli presence does simply mean military activity, etc. etc. – one of the biggest losses in leaving Gaza was the incredible loss of intelligence sources (both people, and the actual proximity to what is happening on the ground).

    Nevertheless, Israel does control the crossings in the WB – not so in Gaza, where smuggling has become an enormous industry. If people could have smuggled rockets into the WB on a large scale (and without being detected, and revealed to Israeli intel) – it would have happened.

  14. themiddle

    4/24/2009 at 4:04 pm

    LB,

    What about the rockets?

    The Iron Dome system has passed some recent tests and it’s supposed to be very effective against Qassem and similar short range rockets.

    This would only be a temporary solution, however. The IDF will always have to fight and be prepared to fight.

    Second, how do you suppose this withdrawal can be carried out? Gaza was a cinch compared to this – relatively little opposition (nationally, media, and in Gaza), and a far smaller number of people. What do you do when you have ten times as many people to be kicked out of their homes and so much less support among soldiers to carry out this operation?

    Most of the settlers are not hard-liners. Most will leave quietly. I propose a system of diminishing compensation. Those who agree to evacuate peacefully receive the value of a home in Israel plus career training. As time passes, if you haven’t signed on, the compensation package becomes smaller.

    If you don’t care about trivial things like a couple of hundred thousand dollars, the government can create laws criminalizing your actions and again make time a severe judge with lighter penalties at the beginning and harsher for the end.

    Finally, I assume there will be a core of opposition that may raise arms against the IDF. They may actually do it to their fellow settlers first to apply counter-pressure to the government’s. They should be made to lose citizenship and permanently forfeit the right to live in Israel. If they like, they can see how long they survive among the Palestinians.

    The reason Gaza was challenging is exactly what you point out: it was a message to the government about the West Bank. Well, tough cookies. You can’t have a small fraction of the country dictating what the remainder – the vast majority – does.

    Third, if there is to be even a modicum of support among the residents themselves – how do you overcome the fact that the government royally f**ked the Gaza settlers – and still is? How are residents of the wb supposed to have any faith that they, too, won’t be living in glorified cardboard boxes 3.5 years from now – being told they might have real homes in two years?

    Simple one: have another country run this process. It would be meant to ensure good faith efforts by Israel and it would remove this stain from those Israeli government officials who would participate in the decision to make this large group leave the WB.

    I know it’s going to be challenging, but it is doable and it is absolutely necessary to leave Judea and Samaria ASAP to avoid a much worse outcome for Israel.

  15. LB

    4/24/2009 at 5:29 pm

    tm – So, best case scenario, you’re taking about a few years from now to even start something like this. Iron Dome, etc are scheduled for deployment in 2010.

    Most are not ‘hardliners’ – but most will have no faith in the government – Gaza is widely considered a disaster (at the very least, among those who would be evacuated). Both because they do not want to leave a vacuum for a terrorist entity (though leaving while the IDF remains would serve as a response to that), and because of the situation of former Gaza residents today.

    Also, I do not believe that there is a clear majority of Israelis today in favor of such a mass evacuation. I doubt we’ll really know, either – just like we didn’t in 2005, either (when there was, most likely a clear majority), because the government acted horribly – stifling any and all opposition. I fear that will happen again.

    Last reason it cannot be pulled off anytime soon – people will not go quietly until former Gaza residents are actually resettled – which is a long, long way off. The government agencies that dealt with them were horrendous, for lack of a better word. The demands made to prove residency, etc – of everyone, registering early or late made no difference. It took years for any money to arrive, and actual resettlement is still a few years off for most (at best). On top of that – unemployment is rampant, and the government has not done nearly enough to solve that – people nearing retirement are now depleting their life savings because there was no real effort made to give them suitable employment. My point is that people will have no faith in the government, and hardliners or not – they will not fall for the same empty words again.

    You mentioned another country run it? Who? One example why this is not feasible. The initial response would be the US, I presume. In 2005 USAID had a project to buy the greenhouses in Gaza, and to give them to the Palestinians, thereby giving them livelihood, and giving the evacuees something in return. Sounds great. However, no one was allowed to even see the contracts – not even knowing how much they were selling their property for – Gush Katif residents were told to sign blindly or not at all. USAID acted in very bad faith (as it often does today in the WB, but that’s another story) and the deal fell through. Eventually some (Jewish, I believe) American donors stepped in, salvaged some sort of deal, sans USAID.

  16. Tori

    4/24/2009 at 7:30 pm

    Good post TM! I’m with you.

    I <3 Michael Oren. Good choice.

  17. Tori

    4/24/2009 at 7:32 pm

    One must also keep in mind that a unilateral pullout from the WB will be a nightmare for Jordan. They are serious about watching the border, unlike Egypt, and the monarchy are scared to death that they will have to deal with a border with “Palestine” w/o the IDF.

  18. themiddle

    4/24/2009 at 7:41 pm

    m – So, best case scenario, you’re taking about a few years from now to even start something like this. Iron Dome, etc are scheduled for deployment in 2010.

    Announcement and implementation are two different things. Even Gaza took a long time. But I believe Israel should have done this yesterday. I mean, what I’m talking about is the destructiveness of Israel being in there to Israeli society. It is corrosive. If you announce tomorrow, you can time the evacuation to coincide with the arrival of Iron Dome. Their reports about the tests they ran indicated they were very pleased with the results.

    Most are not ‘hardliners’ – but most will have no faith in the government – Gaza is widely considered a disaster (at the very least, among those who would be evacuated). Both because they do not want to leave a vacuum for a terrorist entity (though leaving while the IDF remains would serve as a response to that), and because of the situation of former Gaza residents today.

    I recognize that, but it’s not relevant. The danger to Israel and its long-term existence are far more important.

    Also, I do not believe that there is a clear majority of Israelis today in favor of such a mass evacuation. I doubt we’ll really know, either – just like we didn’t in 2005, either (when there was, most likely a clear majority), because the government acted horribly – stifling any and all opposition. I fear that will happen again.

    Today’s polls reflect the Lebanon and Gaza wars. If a leader decides to evacuate, particularly one on the Right, it will be accepted quickly. How many people actually believe the status quo can last and how many Israelis are willing to continue to fight over land they can’t even annex, knowing that it will become a demographic disaster?

    Last reason it cannot be pulled off anytime soon – people will not go quietly until former Gaza residents are actually resettled – which is a long, long way off. The government agencies that dealt with them were horrendous, for lack of a better word. The demands made to prove residency, etc – of everyone, registering early or late made no difference. It took years for any money to arrive, and actual resettlement is still a few years off for most (at best). On top of that – unemployment is rampant, and the government has not done nearly enough to solve that – people nearing retirement are now depleting their life savings because there was no real effort made to give them suitable employment. My point is that people will have no faith in the government, and hardliners or not – they will not fall for the same empty words again.

    Again, this is immaterial. Look, I’m not a hardass. I’m sympathetic to people who are suffering and recognize that they have not received what they were promised. I even feel bad because I was angry about all they were promised. However, this is on the micro level and I’m talking about the macro. Israel needs to move west of the Fence. Full stop. However it needs to be done, it must be done.

    You mentioned another country run it? Who? One example why this is not feasible. The initial response would be the US, I presume. In 2005 USAID had a project to buy the greenhouses in Gaza, and to give them to the Palestinians, thereby giving them livelihood, and giving the evacuees something in return. Sounds great. However, no one was allowed to even see the contracts – not even knowing how much they were selling their property for – Gush Katif residents were told to sign blindly or not at all. USAID acted in very bad faith (as it often does today in the WB, but that’s another story) and the deal fell through. Eventually some (Jewish, I believe) American donors stepped in, salvaged some sort of deal, sans USAID.

    Fair enough. Let’s pick Iran. ;)

  19. LB

    4/24/2009 at 11:33 pm

    I recognize that, but it’s not relevant. The danger to Israel and its long-term existence are far more important.

    But it would an evacuation far more difficult to execute.

    If a leader decides to evacuate, particularly one on the Right, it will be accepted quickly.

    I think you’re being overly optimistic (or pessimistic, from my point of view…). Regardless of reason, there is much less support today for such an undertaking than there was in 2005. Back then we weren’t exactly on the verge of peace either. We did have a (perceived) Right-wing government, and in the months leading up to August 2005, the settlement movement made countless tactical mistakes, in the battle over “hearts and minds”, which will not be repeated (mostly because the same people probably won’t be involved). Many, many soldiers have friends who participated in Operation Shuvu Banim, and now regret it – and would not repeat it. Regardless of what any of us think of disobeying orders – the fact is, that more people will disobey such an order in the future. Or will “psychological training” be necessary again…? Lastly, on this issue – the government in 2005 would NOT have approved the pullout if Sharon had not manipulated the cabinet makeup, by firing ministers, in order to ensure a favorable outcome in the vote.

    Again, this is immaterial. Look, I’m not a hardass. I’m sympathetic to people who are suffering and recognize that they have not received what they were promised. I even feel bad because I was angry about all they were promised. However, this is on the micro level and I’m talking about the macro. Israel needs to move west of the Fence. Full stop. However it needs to be done, it must be done.

    I’m not saying you are. Your arguments are far more reasonable than the average pro-withdrawal talking points, and I understand you’re coming from a good place, with good intentions. In any case, while I disagree – my point here wasn’t even necessarily about my views, but about feasibility of carrying out such an operation. The mismanagement of former Gaza residents’ situation has only created more ill-will among the public, at large, not to mention settlers (including WB – who fear for their homes) themselves. Israeli government still need public support – which will make it more difficult to garnet the necessary support.

    Fair enough. Let’s pick Iran.

    Good luck getting Fatah supporting that… ;)

    One more point about public support – the state (and media) completely disregarded civil liberties – freedom of speech, freedom of congregation, e.g., – all in order to further their plan. If they needed it last time – what will happen next time? Will such widespread abuse be tolerated again?

  20. noam

    4/25/2009 at 12:24 am

    The middle,

    when we talk about occupation, we mean the rule over the people, not over the land, and I don’t think this fact is being disputed, so I don’t understand your need to put the term in quotation marks.

    as for the settlements – these were never a “mistake”. Read “lords of the land”. it was an ongoing national project, carried out by all Israeli government – and all of its branches, from the Justice Department to the Agriculture – most notably Barak’s leftist government. In this sense, it is a good litmus test for Israel’s intentions – just as you look at terrorism as the Palestinians’.

    As for your solution: while I wouldn’t oppose unilateral withdrawal, I agree it might turn out to be a disaster, just like Gaza. So I would simply start by stopping all settlement, and removing the illegal outposts – something Israel promised to do – and was also ordered to do by its own Supreme Court – but never did. Maybe I am too optimistic, but I think that once we do that, it will be easier to form a regional/international mechanism that will help stabilize the situation, keep our security and avoid the Gaza scenario.

    My question for you is this: if the Israeli government take the opposite direction – of building more settlements and avoiding all sort of agreement or negotiations – what do you think should be done? How do we avoid the “Apartheid scenario” in case Israel is sending more and more people to leave amongst the Palestinians?

  21. noam

    4/25/2009 at 12:29 am

    LB,

    about the rockets – removing the settlements doesn’t necessarily mean stopping all military operations in the WB. The settlements problem – which I see as the heart of the matter, at least when we refer to Israel’s actions – has nothing to do with national security.

  22. Tori

    4/25/2009 at 12:35 am

    Noam, are you saying you would support a military “occupation” if civilian “settlements” are evacuated?

  23. LB

    4/25/2009 at 12:36 am

    noam, you’re right. Which is why I did mention that regarding the rockets issue, evacuating settlements, but no the army is something that might help alleviate the public’s concern.

    However, what will be difficult, even impossible – is to ensure that people do not come back and resettle the land. No matter how many “closed military zone” orders given or convictions handed down – closing off an area to people in which their friends and family are stationed, and can therefore access relatively easily – people will come back, again and again. I just cannot foresee a situation in which the WB is succesfully sealed it off hermetically, while a military presence is maintained there.

  24. noam

    4/25/2009 at 1:00 am

    Tori,

    I think Israel has the right to defend itself, and I don’t rule out the use of military force In the West Bank, or anywhere else for that matter.

    I also think that while we might be fighting terrorism in the WB, the reason we are there is the settlements.

    Let me put it this way: I served in South Lebanon and never felt a moral problem – though it was, by any standards, an occupation (I think even TM wouldn’t have put in in quotation marks). Sometimes I felt it was the wrong solution for the problem – but since we had no claim for the land, I though Israel acted within its rights. Our assignments in Hebron, on the other hand, had a whole different nature.

    It is clear to me that when one looks at Israel’s actions – not its words – you understand this difference, and why I say the settlements are, again, the heart of the matter.

  25. noam

    4/25/2009 at 1:09 am

    LB,

    it seems we are able to seal the WB effectively right now, with regards to moving from east to west. I see no reason it wouldn’t work the other way.

    But than again, I don’t even ask that much. Lets just start by stopping all benefits for Jews who moves to live there. That’s what I mean by saying the settlements are a government policy.

    I find your position to be a bit naïve. Do you really think the government doesn’t approve the “illigal” outposts? Who do you think supply them with water, electricity, who builds the roads to these outposts? Who defends them? We might not actively tell them to go and live on a specific hill, but once they are there, Israel is doing almost everything in its power to keep them where they are.

  26. LB

    4/25/2009 at 1:18 am

    noam-

    I think you’ve misunderstood me.

    1. In Israel of all places – if your brother, neighbor and cousin – all serve in the Binyamin Brigade HQ – do you really think you won’t be able to sneak in? Now compound that by a few thousands, and you see what I mean.

    2. Whether or not the govt approves them is irrelevant – people will still settle, and guard themselves. There might be complaints about IDF inactivity or Israel’s abandonment of citizens – but that is still irrelevant – people WILL move there, as long the IDF is still there.

    3. As someone who knows the process from the inside – the government does not approve these outposts. What happens rather often though is that pressure is put for water and electricity to be provided – roads are often built by those who establish the outposts themselves. Defending them might be seen as giving legitimacy – but the reason for that is more the public outcry that will ensue if people are killed. Let’s just say it’s not that simple for a bulldozer to be approved into almost anywhere east of the fence – it’s nearly impossible. They are brought it anyway, that’s a given, but it’s more a policy of looking the other way than approving them – dealing with them will be more of a pain, in the short run, anyway – cost more, will not be popular among soldiers, etc. etc.

  27. noam

    4/25/2009 at 1:34 am

    LB,

    all your arguments come to the point that once there are a few dozens settlers who wish to get there, the government can’t do anything about it. Current history shows it is the other way around – when the government decides, there are no settlements (like in Chomesh, the disputed house in Hebron, and many other examples).

    There is no “public outcry” to provide settlements with services such as power and water. Furthermore, the outpost, with no more than a few hundred people living in them, are only the tip of the iceberg. The problem is the national policy – colonizing the land. I ask you again: how else do you explain all the benefits for those who move to live in the WB? How do you explain the fact that Netanyahu wouldn’t commit to stopping the expansion of the settlements? It would help him with the WH and cost him nothing, but he wouldn’t even say it. Again, this is no “mistake”, but rather a policy.

  28. LB

    4/25/2009 at 1:44 am

    noam, yes, RE:your first part, that is what I’m saying. It is a problem – and the army has had a problem dealing with Chomesh recently – like I said – imagine that problem times 1,000. One point – it’s a lot more than a few dozen. Fringe/extremist or whatever else the public at large thinks of these people – they are more than a few dozen people gallivanting around the mountain tops – they have far more of a base than that.

    Second – the public outcry is only about defending people – if there were no defense, people would die — public outcry over that. Nevertheless, I am speaking only about outposts – not settlements at large.

    The benefits for people in general who live over the green line? People push, lobby, and it’s a coalitionary system – that’s how the game works.

    Why won’t Bibi stop the expansion? Honestly, all my arguments were from a public point of view – I am not in favor ceasing expansion of settlements (but I don’t want the discussion here to boil over into that – it will change the subject and dominate the discussion, as it always does – if you want to, I’ve commented on your blog, so you have my email – contact me there), and Bibi’s motives are never easy to decipher – maybe he agrees with me…

    “It would help him with the WH and cost him nothing, but he wouldn’t even say it. Again, this is no “mistake”, but rather a policy.”

    Yes. No argument there. Whether or not that is a good idea is another discussion which I think will just take over here, and as I’ve said I would rather not hijack the discussion here.

  29. themiddle

    4/25/2009 at 4:41 am

    As a basic rule, no Israeli gov’t is willing to stop “settlement growth” because they correctly claim that “natural growth” should be permitted. Don’t forget that by “settlements” many people include east Jerusalem and the neighborhoods surrounding Jerusalem. Why should any Israeli gov’t agree to that?

    As to Noam’s point that this is all calculated and supported by the gov’t, I say not so fast. The settlement movement has been very clever in understanding the levers of power in Israel and have received support over the years in different ways. However, that has more to do with their stridency and confidence in their own destiny and objectives. The gov’t is simply not built to contest this confidence, in part because of the historic and emotional ties to this land and in part because coalition agreements have helped to strengthen smaller groups and the settlers have benefited from this.

    At one point in the early ’70s there may have been a belief in the gov’t that settlements should be supported, and maybe again in Netanyahu’s first go-round as PM, but it fluctuates. I refer to it as a mistake not because I deny that governments have been involved in supporting these settlement efforts, but rather because I perceive most of these governments to have been led by the nose by the settlement movement. I think it’s hard for Israelis to reconcile that they have to give up this land to the Palestinians.

    Noam asks:

    My question for you is this: if the Israeli government take the opposite direction – of building more settlements and avoiding all sort of agreement or negotiations – what do you think should be done? How do we avoid the “Apartheid scenario” in case Israel is sending more and more people to leave amongst the Palestinians?

    Noam, there is nothing to be done in this event. We will watch slowly and sadly as more and more supporters disengage from supporting Israel, as more and more people around the world begin to view it as truly a pariah state and then we will weep for what could have been and what should have been in this incredible project of Zionism.

    It will happen inside Israel as well. You think there’s a brain drain going on now with some of Israel’s fine young minds leaving for foreign shores to explore better career options or to leave the pressures of Israel behind? Just wait and see what happens if what you write comes to pass.

    What you’re describing is the end of Israel as a Jewish state within 20-30 years. And whether the end comes about violently or peacefully will probably determine whether it’s the end of Israel entirely. In the scenario you describe, there could well be a temporary period where there is some sort of dictatorial regime instead of a democratic one ruling Israel, but they won’t be able to hold up for too long once the rest of the world and the US truly ostracize them.

    But do me one favor, Noam, don’t preach about Israel avoiding all sort of agreement or negotiations. The Palestinians have been avoiding them even more and, to be frank, are counting on the success of the Palestinian national project to happen because there is no peace deal. They have no incentive to compromise at all – they think they’ve won.

    That’s why unilateral action is imperative.

  30. Ben-Yehudah

    4/26/2009 at 3:47 am

    B”H

    Typical.

    Complete absence of halachic reasoning. OTOH, the mamlachti (undying State loyalist religious) aren’t terribly concerned about such matters either.

    So, when are YOU coming to kick me out of my home?

    I guarantee you that coffee and cake will not be here waiting for you.

  31. ck

    4/26/2009 at 3:57 am

    Le Grand Mechant Sigh. We need Mashiach now…

  32. Yisrael Medad, Shiloh

    4/26/2009 at 4:52 am

    I don’t understand. Why do we have to keep pulling out? We do not practice Zionism interruptus. As I once told Sari Nusseibeh, or maybe Jonathan Kuttab, when asked where Israel’s borders are to be, “where you stop fighting us”, But they can’t stop because whether moderate or fanatic, the very essential of Jewish national political independence is a non-starter. In May 1967, there was no “occupation”, no “illegal settlements” and yet we had Arab terror. People’s memories are so insufficient.

    P.S. Ever since Michael started parting his hair in the middle after his last book’s success, I knew we were in for trouble.

  33. themiddle

    4/26/2009 at 5:18 am

    Ben Yehuda, I am never coming to kick you out of your home which is subsidized by other Israeli tax-payers and defended with their sons. After all, it’s your home even if it is subsidized and defended by other people’s sons and couldn’t really exist if it weren’t for the subsidies and the other people’s sons.

    You see, you’ve already won the war with me.

    I don’t live in Israel.

    Nice victory, huh? I am merely a tourist who comes there sometimes.

    I made a decision, many years ago, that I couldn’t live in Israel despite really wanting to. People like you convinced me. I thought to myself, why would I want to defend that person when I disagree with his views but would be expected to defend them with my body?

    Why, I asked myself, would I want to lord it over other people so that you could live there? I didn’t believe then in the whole settlement enterprise and still don’t. If you were living in the Galilee, I would defend you with my blood and body and I’d live in Israel, but you don’t have my consent to live anywhere outside of Israel’s consensus borders. I didn’t want to risk my life so that you could live there. I didn’t want the moral weight of it. I didn’t want any of it.

    I vividly recall Yeshayahu Leibovitz in a talk I attended where he asserted how evil it was for Israel to be engaged in an occupation of another people. He predicted it would tear up Israeli society and compromise the moral standing of its soldiers. I agreed, but didn’t know how right he would prove to be.

    So please, don’t wait for me, I’m not coming to kick you out. But you should also know that you keep weakening my resolve to support Israel. I know, I know, you’re saying “so what?” Well, without people like me you’d be all alone in the world. You’d have far lesser resources and you should know that if you are at the point of losing the strong supporters like me, it means the weaker ones have left long ago.

    Thanks to you, Israel is left weaker, not stronger. Your strong beliefs undermine Israel’s possibilities of survival and growth.

    But if you ever come to the US and want to visit me to console my broken heart that so seeks to live in Israel but not at any expense, I will gladly have you over for coffee and cake. Oh wait, I’m probably not kosher enough for you. Oh well, I guess we won’t even have that to offer you.

  34. froylein

    4/26/2009 at 7:44 am

    So, what’s the current state of the matter? I’ve just heard on the news that Israel announced it would extend (and thereby connect) two settlements in the Westbank.

  35. ck

    4/26/2009 at 8:20 am

    Sheesh TM! Surely you can find some Entemans or a Coffee Bean under hashgacha somewhere nearby for Ben Yehuda. Keep in mind that Ben Yehuda and his gang are well represented in the IDF’s combat units and officer corps. They are the ones putting their lives on the line defending Israel, both for citizens and tourists. Like you. The current situation in the territories is untenable. But please, let’s not demonize the vast majority of settlers who are by and large, the salt of the earth. I don’t have any simple solutions, or complicated ones either, we pulled out of Gaza and the response was almost unrelenting rocket fire. How about we see SOME willingness from the other side to pursue peace? Go on. Throw me a bone, anything. I don’t want to hurt a single one of these people:

    Watch the video of the final moments of the Neve Dekalim synagogue. If you’re not moved then you have no soul and we have nothing more to discuss.

  36. froylein

    4/26/2009 at 8:24 am

    Entenmann’s is OUd, which, I was told, includes unsupervised milk. But yeah, Middle, get Entenmann’s, and I’ll come visit you.

  37. froylein

    4/26/2009 at 9:08 am

    Here we are: news.yahoo.com...

  38. ck

    4/26/2009 at 9:18 am

    They’re never going to evacuate Maale Adumim. You can take that off the list. They may as well evacuate French Hill too. It’s on the western part of the security barrier, has close to 40,000 residents and is like a suburb of Jerusalem.

  39. themiddle

    4/26/2009 at 11:17 am

    Surely you can find some Entemans or a Coffee Bean under hashgacha somewhere nearby for Ben Yehuda. Keep in mind that Ben Yehuda and his gang are well represented in the IDF’s combat units and officer corps. They are the ones putting their lives on the line defending Israel, both for citizens and tourists. Like you. The current situation in the territories is untenable. But please, let’s not demonize the vast majority of settlers who are by and large, the salt of the earth. I don’t have any simple solutions, or complicated ones either, we pulled out of Gaza and the response was almost unrelenting rocket fire. How about we see SOME willingness from the other side to pursue peace? Go on. Throw me a bone, anything. I don’t want to hurt a single one of these people:

    Dave,

    I’ll throw you more than a bone, my comment is not directed at all settlers.

    You have known me for many years, even before Jewlicious. You have seen me argue on behalf of settlers, defending them against demonization and even justifying their presence on this land. I don’t believe the Palestinians have a RIGHT to this land, I believe pragmatism forces us out of there.

    But I wasn’t talking to all settlers when I spoke to Ben Yehudah above. I was speaking to the hardliners who would THREATEN others, including other Jews, with violence. He does not represent the majority of settlers! He is a member of a minority among the settlers who would threaten the soldiers who come to remove him.

    Most settlers, as I wrote above, are going to leave peacefully. They don’t walk around thinking they are BETTER than other Jews or other Israelis, or that as citizens of Israel they KNOW BETTER than other Israelis or Jews or even that they WILL PHYSICALLY CHALLENGE decisions made by Israel’s government on behalf of Israel.

    No, only a minority of settlers believe that and that hardcore group is a danger to Israel. These days, they may be THE danger to Israel second in stature to Iran.

    I want to be clear that by no means do I disparage the settlers as a group and don’t believe I have done so in my response to Ben Yehuda or in my post. If what I wrote is understood differently, then let me be absolutely clear that I am talking about the hardliners who attack and would attack soldiers, the IDF and the Israeli governments who they see as an opponent instead of as their basis of support.

    I understand the position of most settlers. In many cases I even respect their position.

    I disagree with it very strongly because I read the future differently.

    I am even sympathetic to the hardships they will face in an evacuation. But I’m afraid the evacuation has to be done and those hardships must be ignored because the entire ship could sink.

    I also believe many settlers and their sons represent some of Israel’s finest soldiers today. I’ve posted about the heroics of a couple in the Lebanon War a couple of years ago. In Gaza’s disengagement we saw that the soldiers who were the sons and daughters of settlers were, for the most part, able to separate their soldier selves from their settler selves. As hard as it must have been for them, they understood what Ben Yehuda doesn’t understand which is that THE GREATER PROJECT OF ISRAEL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS DESIRES, BELIEFS AND IDEOLOGY.

  40. themiddle

    4/26/2009 at 11:25 am

    Entenmann’s isn’t enough for many who would come to my house, Froylein…

  41. Tom Morrissey

    4/26/2009 at 12:29 pm

    The settlers are victims, too, of manipulative and inept political leadership. The notion that somehow Israel can have it both ways– proclaim a willingness to make painful sacrifices for peace, while de facto promoting settlement activity– will continue to result in wrenching tableaux of people driven from their homes. This isn’t the Arabs’ fault. The chicken of political complacency is coming home to roost.

  42. Ben-Yehudah

    4/26/2009 at 4:41 pm

    B”H

    The Middle,

    You’re right about one thing. I am in the minority. Most of [even] the religious “settlers” are undying state loyalist “mamlachtim,” as were the majority of those Jews who used to reside in Azza. The minority is made up of those who recognize the authority of the Torah over the State, whenever there is conflict between the two, which has been occurring increasingly more often. I believe that this trend will continue.

    However, I do not recall threatening anyone? Would you please remind me of when I have done this?

    If you want, we can simply agree to disagree. We see things from very different perspectives. {Am I wrong?} Actually, Rav Binyamin Kahane HY”D said that we should let everyone think that were “crazy settlers.” Then maybe we’ll be left alone. It’s worked in Tapu’ah. The Arabs leave us alone because they think we’re nuts. Of course, now that a lot of mamlachtim have moved and have changed various policies, there have been more attacks. But, I digress….

    His father Rav Meir Kahane HY”D said to say the truth, and do the truth, and whatever happens afterward is min haShamayim. And what’s the truth? The Torah.

    This partly answers ck’s comment about how tackle the complicated issue. You see, it’s not complicated. We already have instructions as to what to do,…the Torah.

    Of course, people like to ask, “So, how do you decide which rav’s ‘interpretation’ to listen to?” A valid question, but again, one that’s easy to answer. Listen to the one who states his Halachic sources clearly {Talmud, Rishonim}, and not one dances around the Torah grasping as straws and obscure midrashim to avoid that which goes against his pre-established hashqafah {perspective}. Opinions and feelings do NOT dictate halacha. Halachic sources do. All groups do this, including some of MY neighbors. It is a mistake.

    ck,
    The problem with Entenman’s is that lately there have been more incidents of Arabs attempting to poison food and drink in the restaurants where the work {Ramat Gan, Cafe Rimon, etc.}. So it might be a good idea to go with halav Yisrael, even in the U. S. Just a suggestion,… ;-}

    Final note,…

    The Middle,

    I won’t get in to the issue of who is a Jew. And, no I’m not talking about conversions and pseudo-conversions. I’ll just let look up the Ramba”m’s list of who is NOT to be treated like a “Yisrael” at all. You may find the list illuminating, or offensive, or both.

    Also, ever hear of the term “80 percent?” Rash”i suggests that might have been the percentage of Bnei Yisrael who stayed [or died] in Egypt.

    Good luck. I think you’re gonna need it.

  43. themiddle

    4/26/2009 at 5:05 pm

    You’ll forgive me Ben Yehuda, but this is one of those conversations where my anonymity gives me an advantage. As a result, I’m going to stop here. I think much of what I wrote in the comment above yours bears out in your response.

  44. Ben-Yehudah

    4/26/2009 at 5:37 pm

    OK. I hope that means I was clear. Your comment suggests that it was. I sometimes have difficulty staying clear and concise.

    {I’m being serious here, not sarcastic. No reason to be sarcastic. You and I may disagree on this issue, but your last comment is sensible.}

    If my crime is attempting to follow the Torah to the best of my ability, above all other authority, then I plead guilty.

    What do you follow?

    To your readers:

    Politically incorrect but true…

    Western culture, ideology, sensibilities, and definitions of “peace” are not automatically compatible with Torah,…not by a long shot.

    Israel is not Western; it’s not Eastern; it’s in the middle and unique.

  45. themiddle

    4/26/2009 at 6:00 pm

    Ben Yehuda, the Torah doesn’t presage the current situation just as it didn’t presage the Zionist movement – a secular, nationalistic movement that is the only reason you have a state and can live where you live. The same goes for the military which has protected Israel for all these decades. The same goes for the tax rolls in Israel. You may wish to live according to “Torah,” but you only have that luxury because of people you disparage.

    Now tell me something because I’m curious. How do you think the demographic balance in the West Bank will play out? What happens if you succeed and continue to receive gov’t and military support as the Palestinian population grows? What is your long-range vision and how do you get there?

  46. Ariel Ben Yochanan

    4/26/2009 at 6:05 pm

    B”H

    This article and most of the discussion that follows are not jewlicious at all. Actually ithey are quite anti-Jewish and anti-religious and anti-Torah and anti-reasonable by any standard other than that of our enemy’s. Therefore I put this site on my blacklist. Don’t forget gentlemen, as Jews we don’t have to reinvent hot water and Middle East peace: Hashem has a peace plan for His chosen people on His chosen Land and we’ll be as successfull in obtaining peace as closely we decide to adhere to His Torah individually and as a nation.

  47. themiddle

    4/26/2009 at 7:57 pm

    Well darn it, if you’re going to blacklist Jewlicious because it’s anti-Jewish, anti-religious, anti-Torah AND anti-reasonable, then I intend to change my mind, change my outlook, change my forecast and change my underwear. No more Palestine is for Lovers thongs for me.

    But thanks for engaging me in conversation, Ariel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    By the way, what did the other posters on Jewlicious who had nothing to do with this post do to you? Lo tisa avon avot al banim, dude.

  48. Ariel Ben Yochanan

    4/26/2009 at 11:19 pm

    B”H

    “Dude” maybe your granpa “themiddle”, Jews are required to call each other by their names. How dare you contemplating giving up parts of our Holy Land? Who gives you the authority? No Jew has the authority to do this and yes, what you are doing is worse than what our enemy does? Why? Because they are playing their own part, whereas you are playing theirs. As Jews we cannot stand in the middle, “themiddle”. We have a G-d given role to play out in this world to merit a place in the next one and there is no place for compromise: we must not add or take away from Torah.

  49. froylein

    4/27/2009 at 12:08 am

    Hashem has a peace plan for His chosen people on His chosen Land

    And that’s why stoutly Torah-observant Jews believe there may not be a state of Israel unless brought about by Moshiach. That is why there are ultra-religious settlers whose intention is not to occupy the land they believe belongs to Israel but to disrupt the peace process. You don’t have to be Neturei Karta to be an extremist nut.

  50. ck

    4/27/2009 at 12:47 am

    OK, we’ll call you by your name: Andras. Sorry we’re on your blacklist. Have a nice day!

  51. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 12:47 am

    Ariel, can you please tell me what the Torah says is going to happen with the Palestinians in the West Bank? Are they going to become citizens of Israel? Are they going to remain under Israeli military control but without the rights of citizens? Is there going to be another outcome for them? What does the Torah say about this?

    PS my grandpa is dead. Both of them.

  52. noam

    4/27/2009 at 1:24 am

    How dare you contemplating giving up parts of our Holy Land? Who gives you the authority? No Jew has the authority to do this and yes, what you are doing is worse than what our enemy does? Why? Because they are playing their own part, whereas you are playing theirs. As Jews we cannot stand in the middle, “themiddle”. We have a G-d given role to play out in this world to merit a place in the next one and there is no place for compromise: we must not add or take away from Torah

    I see our Hamas has arrived.

  53. LB

    4/27/2009 at 1:28 am

    “I see our Hamas has arrived.”

    noam, come on. Let’s be honest – regardless of your thoughts about people who hold such opinions, there a world of difference between that and the racist mass murder of innocent people that is Hamas.

  54. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 2:36 am

    “I see our Hamas has arrived.”

    noam, come on. Let’s be honest – regardless of your thoughts about people who hold such opinions, there a world of difference between that and the racist mass murder of innocent people that is Hamas.

    I have to agree with LB. Noam, there is no group in Israel that even comes close to Hamas and its actions. Keep your bearings straight here and let’s be fair about what we’re discussing.

  55. noam

    4/27/2009 at 2:40 am

    Let’s be honest – regardless of your thoughts about people who hold such opinions, there a world of difference between that and the racist mass murder of innocent people that is Hamas

    LB,

    ABY comes from Tapuah, the single most extreme settlements in the West Bank and the stronghold of Kahana people. As you might know, these groups were expelled from the Knesset in the 80′s and outlawed in the 90′s after they praised violent attack on Arabs, called for segregation inside Israel and for the forced transfer of the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. Kahana himself tried to pass a law in the Knesset according to which any intercourse between Jews and Arabs will lead to the imprisonment of both. So no, I fail to see the difference.

    ask the good ABY what he thinks of Dr. Baruch Goldstein, or Yigal Amir for that matter, and lets take it from there.

  56. Ben-Yehudah

    4/27/2009 at 3:07 am

    The Middle,

    The Ramba”m {See Hil. Avodah Zarah} and other Rishonim are quite clear.

    Unfortunately, the galuth mentality has gotten most to the point where Rash”i’s comment that the Third will fall {prefabricated} from the sky takes precedence over all other sources. This split began around 500 years ago. The galuth is clearly winning.

    So called religious Zionists, who are supposed to believe that we are active participants in the ge’ulah process, stop short, and take the “Haredi” line, after 1967, and become completely stagnant.

    It doesn’t help when both RZ and Haredi often prefer texts censored by Christians than daring to leave their caves to search for versions that weren’t.

    Froylein,

    You are giving an excellent example of how hashqah can get in the way of seeking the truth. The is no Halachic leg for neturah karta to stand on. The “anti Zionist” movement is a very recent one, conveniently leaving out of their shiurim, the “zionist” leanings of the Hatham Sofer, the GR”A, the Mahara”l, and others. As Rav Moshe Tzuriel of Bnei Braq says, there is no Zionism; it’s simple part of the Torah.

    The Torah is our only justification for returning and now living and maintaining a presence in Eretz Yisrael. If we do what we’re supposed to, it is likely we’ll be able to stay. If not, we’ll be kicked out. I am not optimistic, when you have a Yesha Council receiving its budget directly for the office of the prime minister {where I come from, that’s known as a conflict of interest}, getting more money from Christian missionaries, and wasting ck’s, mine {yes, I pay taxes}, and others’ taxes on codependent PR campaigns, and clever speeches, instead of just saying the truth, planting fields and building houses.

    No’am,

    I wish it were so about Tapu’ah being “extremist.” Over the past several years, Tapu’ah and other towns have been filling up with mamlachtim, sought out by the powers that be. They’ll get and go, as soon as the gov’t says, “Boo,” after a brief symbolic resistance.

    The government will try to take down Yitzhar, shed blood, and then most other towns will get up and go quietly.

    The gov’t has to find less expensive options for transplanting Jews. They don’t really care what happens to us. Even many on the left would like us to be treated with dignity, and so the gov’t must pretend to care.

  57. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 3:28 am

    Wow Noam, you trotted out Baruch Goldstein. Congrats on losing the argument right there.

    Let’s see what you can you attribute to these Hamas-like settlers: A murder of a leftist political activist; the murder of an Israeli PM; Baruch Goldstein’s massacre; a couple of failed attempts at blowing up places, and the attacks on Arab mayors in the ’80s? Hamas accomplished more than that in 2001 and Hamas is organized whereas the cases I just brought up were committed by individuals or members of two very small groups.

    I mean, come on. How can you write what you wrote in good faith and how do you expect to win any debate when you take such an extreme view of these people? Can we please wait until they do something like Hamas before we equate the two? This is why apologia for the Palestinians always fails and why it’s so maddening to see the Israeli Left, especially the Israeli Left, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies. It’s also why the Israeli Right keeps winning – you lose all credibility with anybody who has a bit of common sense when you make these facile comparisons.

  58. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 3:33 am

    Ben Yehuda, you’re bullshitting me.

    I asked you direct questions:

    How do you think the demographic balance in the West Bank will play out?
    What happens if you succeed and continue to receive gov’t and military support as the Palestinian population grows?
    What is your long-range vision and how do you get there?

    You answered as follows:

    The Ramba”m {See Hil. Avodah Zarah} and other Rishonim are quite clear.
    Unfortunately, the galuth mentality has gotten most to the point where Rash”i’s comment that the Third will fall {prefabricated} from the sky takes precedence over all other sources. This split began around 500 years ago. The galuth is clearly winning.
    So called religious Zionists, who are supposed to believe that we are active participants in the ge’ulah process, stop short, and take the “Haredi” line, after 1967, and become completely stagnant.
    It doesn’t help when both RZ and Haredi often prefer texts censored by Christians than daring to leave their caves to search for versions that weren’t.

    Would you be kind enough to answer my questions?

  59. noam

    4/27/2009 at 4:01 am

    Themiddle,

    The scale of the action is not everything. I don’t need the Jewish Terrorists to kill a thousand Palestinians in order to condemn them. The Hamas was the Hamas after the first bus exploded. And I have to remind you that Dr. Goldstien came before the buses – and as all intelligence since indicated, helped in many ways create the first wave of suicide attacks.

    Furthermore, I think you are underestimating the scale of the Jewish Terrorism. There were three attempts to blow the dome of rock during the 80’s, which is by no means a small thing. The Jewish Underground – which consisted of well accepted figures and leaders in the settlers’ movement – was cough after it planted explosives in five (!) Palestinian buses – an attack in the scale the Hamas never managed to do.

    Currently, there are at least 15 cases of murder from recent years attributed to one or more Jewish Underground groups. No one was convicted. The “Bat Ayin” underground’s members were caught accidentally after they planted explosives in an elementary girls’ school in East Jerusalem – a patrol cop noticed it just before the first pupils arrived – and that’s only a partial list. As in any case of terrorism – the Hamas included – this couldn’t happen without a surrounding that provided ideological, moral, and physical support for these actions.

  60. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 4:20 am

    No Noam, there were Palestinian suicide attacks back in the 1940s. I can think of two although they weren’t suicide attacks in the way we know them. They were like later PLO terrorism which often involved terrorists who knew they were not coming out alive.

    Goldstein is blamed for everything because HE’S THE ONLY NAME AND INCIDENT OF ANY MAGNITUDE to which anybody can point. Even if you want to point to Goldstein as a point of departure for the Palestinians (because, you know, hijacking planes, or schools like in Ma’alot, or murdering athletes doesn’t count in your book), he was still a lone individual who was arguably off his kilter that day. He is the equivalent of a gunman who walks into a post office in the US and starts spraying bullets, not an ideologically motivated murderer who walks into a restaurant to blow up as many Jewish families as he can while yelling Allah hu Akbar and after receiving the support of a large organization built specifically for this purpose.

    The rest of your comments prove what I wrote. The “Bat Ayin” group was a bunch of nebbishes who couldn’t shoot straight. Did you read anything about them? There was no massive organization here, it was just a small group of individuals who felt they needed to do something. And they’re the group I’m referring to in my remark about failed attempts. Again, they prove the point. Hamas has a charter, for god’s sake. They have an ideology of murder. They were created to fight others. The settlers have absolutely no equivalent.

    I also remarked about the ’80s and the mayors, which were hit by the same group that sought to create a new temple. That was a more sophisticated operation that went nowhere and disappeared ever since.

    There is no equivalent to Hamas, even in the most extreme of the extreme settlers. Look at how few examples you came up with and these are all you came up with because there are virtually no others. Hamas is an entirely different animal. You should just stick to the facts and avoid the hyperbole and then we can have a discussion about settlers and extremism. Until Palestinian restaurants start blowing up, your comparison is invalid.

  61. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 4:27 am

    No, you know what, I have a better basis of comparison.

    You know how in Israel you can’t travel by bus without looking around to make sure there isn’t anybody suspicious? You know how when you walk in public places you are always attuned to abandoned bags? You know how you can’t enter a restaurant in half of Jerusalem’s downtown without realizing that a bombing had taken place there or nearby? Or at the shuk for that matter?

    When Palestinians begin to walk around their towns with this kind of fear of being magically blown up for no reason, then you can make claims about settlers being like Hamas. That day is not even close.

  62. noam

    4/27/2009 at 4:40 am

    You missed the point. Goldstein is not the issue, but the fact the he is idolized by so many.

    As for your “so few attacks” claim, I can list more, but you can also find it for yourself (start by googling the names Poper, Ben Shimol, Avroshmi, Shrbef), and as I wrote – many cases are “unsolved”.

    And there is also different context. While PLO (prior to Oslo) and Hamas (before it took control over Gaza) are what researchers call “classic” terrorism, the Jewish Undergrounds are examples of “dominant group terrorism”, like the OAS. We didn’t invent anything here.

    But ultimately, if you want to go to the last detail, the Jewish Underground is not the Hamas. You win. As you could understand, I was trying to make a more general point. Just like when someone claims that “both Netanyahu and Haled Mashal reject the two state solution”, he doesn’t mean they are all the same -but that in the current political conditions, both sides can argue “there is no partner”. But you probably won’t like this example as well.

  63. noam

    4/27/2009 at 4:48 am

    Your second point is a good example of the way Israelis always feel sorry for themselves and think they are the ultimate victims. This has nothing to do with the debate over terrorism, but I wonder how can you be so blind to the way Palestinians do live in fear – and how Israelis lifes’ are so much more comfortable and safe than that of the Palestinians. Living in Israel in the worst days of the Intifada – as I did – was always far better that living in any West Bank city.

    You seem very knowledgeable about Israel, I’ll give you this, but I wonder if you spent more than a few hours – or even that – in Hebron.

  64. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 5:26 am

    Thanks again for choosing one location that happens to be the exception to the rule. Hebron is not representative of anything because it brings about a very unique set of circumstances. I haven’t been in many years – I rarely enter the Territories unless you consider going to the Dead Sea and driving through to Masada going to the Territories.

    But no, the Palestinians do not walk around their cities with the fear with which Israelis walk around. They fear in wartime, but even then the IDF drives around their town with loudspeakers telling them to get out, or dropping flyers warning them of attacks.

    I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. The success of Palestinian terrorism is that it has infected the minds and mind-set of most Israelis. Israel has not sought out to achieve the same with the Palestinians. I’m not suggesting Palestinian life is comfortable or of the same quality as that of Israelis, it isn’t. However, it also isn’t filled with ongoing fear that at any moment you or your wife may get blown up because you happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  65. noam

    4/27/2009 at 6:38 am

    Goldstein is the exception, Yigal Amir is the exception, Hebron is the exception, life during wartime is the exception, and only what the Palestinians do to us is the general, stable element of the conflict.

    As for the fear of the Palestinians, this is a very subjective issue, but I would say this – the fact is that more Palestinian civilians have been killed at any stage of the conflict. The fact is that the IDF can enter a Palestinian home any time, day of night.The fact is that a Palestinian can get beat up or humiliated or arrested without a warrant or detained without evidence or the right to see a judge any time of the day. I tell you this not because I read it, but because I did it. I am not discussing the reasons for this situation, but the simple reality. You are right in what you wrote a few days ago – this is not genocide, nor the worst regime in history. But this is bad enough, and what the Israelis have been going through during all this time it nothing like it. Not even close.

  66. Yisrael Medad, Shiloh, Israel

    4/27/2009 at 8:56 am

    I’m miffed. I comment but only the ‘extremists’ get to play out their dialogue here. Sorry that for flaming sake I am not a Kahanist but I will try to make another contribution in answer to the question:

    “How do you think the demographic balance in the West Bank will play out?”

    a) I don’t know but if I give up now, there’s at least a 50% chance (and probably more if history is proof). after all, at the time of the Balfour Declaration, our best diplomatic/political victory in 2000 years, as our Arab propagandists remind us, we Jews were but 10% or so of the local population here.

    b) I’d go with Yoram Ettinger and the American Enterprise Institute study and the Arab demographics are more a bluff than anything.

    (From 2005: sullivan-count... ; a recent short version: yoramettinger.... )

    c) if all the hysteria over demographics (remember, we’re in the territories 40 years and the balance has moved less than 5%) is true and that we’ll be overrun (and I won’t get into the leftwing willingness like the highly touted Geneva Initiative to tolerate “some” refugee return), what do we do with the Galil and northern Negev that will be next? if the demographics favor the Arabs, the threat will stop at the border of “Palestine”? come one guys/girls.

  67. Yisrael Medad, Shiloh, Israel

    4/27/2009 at 8:59 am

    oops, my very first sentence was not concluded. let’s try again:

    I don’t know but if I give up now, there’s at least a 50% chance (and probably more if history is proof), that i’d be giving up on myself, my Zionism and the future of the Jewish people if i cave in now to what may be a straw-man.

  68. froylein

    4/27/2009 at 9:05 am

    Orthodoxy accepts the validity of tradition of dogma and development of teachings; therein lies the reasoning of NK (and other ultra-Orthodox that are politically more moderate but still don’t accept the idea of a state called Israel being existent unless brought about by Moshiach). The anti-Zionist movement as a theological concept is old and pre-dates actual Zionism as the suggestion of establishing a Jewish state was always received with opposition from religious elements. Zionism has a strong post-Enlightment touch to it.

  69. LB

    4/27/2009 at 9:30 am

    noam, there’s a reason you can point to a handful of acts by Jews. It’s because Hamas calls for mass murder of Jews. Jews do not. Plain and simple. A plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock is NOT even close to blowing up Sbarro.

    I have been to Hebron. I have been to nearly all of the places you can bring up. I know the community fairly well. There are no calls for mass murder. The education is not for mass murder. To anyone who actually knows what goes on – comparing settlers to Hamas makes you sound like a raving lunatic, grasping at non-existent straws to make a point. Resorting to (ridiculously) false analogies is not helping your point.

  70. noam

    4/27/2009 at 10:02 am

    LB – You can talk all you want about what Israelis say or what Palestinians think, but the simple fact is that there were always more dead civilians on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli. Not that it justifies the Hamas’ actions – but one should remember that.

    As for the rest, I guess I’ll just have to live with the fact that you think I’m a raving lunatic. The rest of the world, it seems, think that Israelis are becoming the lunatics, but you and I both know that this is only because they are all anti-Semites.

    (I’m reading again your comment about Hebron and I find it hard to figure out whether you are extremely naïve or just blind. How long have you been to Hebron for? Two hours? Have you been to a Palestinian home there? I served in there for six straight months, days and nights, and I tell you, it’s not the calls for mass murder that matter – your rational on this issue is mirroring this of the radical anti-Israelis; for you all it’s either genocide or nothing – It’s what the settlers do there, and what their presence is making the army do. And Hebron is the micro-cosmos of the whole WB)

  71. Ben-Yehudah

    4/27/2009 at 10:44 am

    No, not BS-ing. Just addressing the deeper issues, and ended up getting off your specific questions.

    I’ll try better to answer your questions.

    How do you think the demographic balance in the West Bank will play out?

    I see the gov’t forcibly removing Yitzar (May God forbid), and so all other towns will gt up and go. I mentioned this above already. The gov’t has to find cheaper and more popular ways of removing us, preferable getting us to go on our own. I’m still not sure how it will play out, but I don’t see the majority of Yehudah and Shomron residents putting up much of a fight.

    What happens if you succeed and continue to receive, gov’t and military support as the Palestinian population grows?

    Not sure.

    What is your long-range vision and how do you get there?

    This question I already answered. See Ramba”m Hil. Avodah Zarah. I will add Hil. Melachim uMilhamothehem.

    I am trying to complse a more complrehensive post on how I believe the gov’t will try to remove s. I will try to remember to contact you if and when I succeed.

  72. noam

    4/27/2009 at 10:51 am

    LB – one more thing: I understand the need to defend Israel from wrongful allegations (who said genocide?). I am not blind to this side of the debate. I get also reactions to things I say or write like “down with Zionist Nazis” etc. but – and maybe its just me – I get here, and on other parts of the Jewish blogsphere, a strong sense of indifference, even denial, to the Palestinian suffering, even if you don’t think, as I do, that Israel has some responsibility for this suffering.

    On this debate, for example, you and TM went to great deal of trouble in correcting me when I compared the Kahanists to Hamas. Do you go to the same troubles when someone says that all Arabs are terrorists? When someone say “death to all Arabs”? Even this post by TM about the occupation was mostly realpolitik, but what about the simple moral problem of denying an entire people of its civil and political rights? Doesn’t it deserve mentioning sometime?

  73. LB

    4/27/2009 at 11:02 am

    noam – yes, when someone calls for “death to the Arabs” or says that all Arabs are terrorists, I do correct them. the same goes with “בנפול אויבך אל תשמח” (=do not rejoice in the death of your enemy).

    And you did imply genocide – by comparing Hamas to another group, the implication is that the other group is, by intent, genocidal.

    Your last point, however, is a very, very different one. Not really related to this conversation, but it has to do with 1. A defensive war 40 years ago. 3. What would happen if Israel gave up this land? 4. Who does the land actually belong to?

    In any case – it’s not a denial to others’ suffering – it’s being concerned more about Jewish suffering (and who causes it). If another society causes/rejoices in my suffering, I’m going to tend to me and my people first – not my enemy. Anything else is suicidal.

  74. noam

    4/27/2009 at 11:16 am

    Well, questions 1-3 are the heart of the matter, so lets leave it there. I do agree with TM though that in the long run – and maybe not that long – staying in the WB endangers Israel more than leaving it.

  75. Ariel Ben Yochanan

    4/27/2009 at 12:41 pm

    “The observant Jew has his own sense of values. Torah Judaism is his blueprint for this life, his target for existence”.
    Meir Kahane

    “There is the illusion of the world and the reality of the Torah”.
    Meir Kahane

    “But the Jew is not a cripple. G-d made him with two legs, and the authentic healthy Jew walks on both of them”.
    Meir Kahane

    “It is incumbent upon us to understand our greatness and believe in it so that we do not cheapen and profane ourselves”.
    Meir Kahane

    “Above all, it is not decency or goodness of gentleness that impresses the Middle East, but strength”.
    Meir Kahane

    “We have our own values; we build our own special, our JEWISH life – and we are proud, so very proud”.
    Meir Kahane

    Knesset is evil. Not only because it has Arab MKs, not only because it has corrupt MKs, but because it has nothing Jewish about it. Democracy may be good for the nations, but it has nothing to do with Judaism. The Jewish institutional structure is based upon the Idea that Hashem is our Law-giving G-d and that His Law is interpreted by the Sanhedrin and administered by just courts of Law in every village. The concept of law in Judaism is not political and not majority driven: this is a Greek concept, alien to Judaism in as much as demos means people and cratos power. The Land of Israel was given to the Jews by G-d precisely to enable them to separate themselves from the nations and from their foreign influences. The modern State of Israel, for its very structure and because of its institutions, is a Hellenistic entity.

    Thinking and saying these things does not make me Neturei Karta, nor Hamas. Telling me that I’m hamas is particularly offensive and reveals a state of complete moral bankruptcy of someone who is incapable of distinguishing between good and evil. This is my last post here, I consider this discussion superfluous. You are invited to learn Torah and live as Jews.

  76. noam

    4/27/2009 at 12:52 pm

    “Arabs come to our towns, to our cities, Mustafa pretends to be Moshe, they take our women, our Jewish girls”
    Meir Kahane

  77. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 4:19 pm

    First of all, Israel Medad, my apologies if you felt ignored. You weren’t ignored, it’s just that I had no response to your first comment other than to say that I disagree. Your second comment includes demographic research that we’ve discussed on Jewlicious and that I happen to buy. I don’t believe the Palestinian numbers.

    But that doesn’t matter, does it? I mean, do you think we can keep these people without any form of formal political representation permanently? If the answer is “no” and I hope you see from a humanistic point of view why the answer should be “no,” then you either annex them or you disgorge them. So whether they are 2.3 million or 3.8 million, you’re still in a situation where you have to do something and making them citizens is probably not the desired outcome for a Jewish state that seeks to remain identified as a Jewish state.

    You also can’t compare the situation in Balfour’s days to today. Back then you had early Zionism without true comprehension of what moving into this area entails and you had wisps of Palestinian nationalism, but nothing serious at all. Today, they have UN representation and the sympathetic ear of most of the world. Your point was about demographics, however, and how you shouldn’t fold your hand and remove settlers when it might be a bluff (for example, if their demographic totals are lies).

    Let’s assume you are right for a moment. My concern is that Israel’s presence in the WB/Judea and Samaria, is costing a great deal anyway. It costs Israel because of the internal strife which exists between those who support the settlements and those who don’t. It costs Israel because the soldiers who go there may be changed as people by the experience of lording it over the Palestinians. The expenses involved, both in military commitments as well as financial commitments from the government, are substantial. Furthermore, by expending the money and energy here, you are not expending it in the Galilee or the Negev.

    Noam,

    Yes, one mass murderer, one political assassin, one group of would be idiots, one group of wackos from the ’80s and one town that is the center of the most extreme settlers out there who believe they are the descendants of the 1929 Jewish departees from Hebron, and all of these spread out over a period of 30 years do not make your point. They make my point. They are exceptions and there are not many of them. There is no settler movement equivalent to Hamas in any way. At most you can say there is an underlying current of potential violence among certain circles. That is very different than saying that an organization exists which has been ideologically inclined, efficient and ruthless about attacking and murdering Jewish civilians whenever they find an opportunity.

    By the way, when somebody says “all Arabs are terrorists” on Jewlicious, we usually attack the statement.

  78. Owais

    4/27/2009 at 7:38 pm

    From a purely Islamic point of view, I support a one-state solution. If Muslims and Jews could live together 1000 years ago, they can do it now. Arabs need to learn to accept the fact that Israel will not go away, and when they do, the region will benefit all faiths and people.
    Both causes deserve sympathy.

  79. themiddle

    4/27/2009 at 8:23 pm

    Owais, do you support a one state solution where the country is defined as a Jewish country the way Saudi Arabia is defined as a Muslim country?

  80. Yisrael Medad, Shiloh, Israel

    4/27/2009 at 11:59 pm

    1. Owais: they didn’t live nicely 1000 years ago for the most part. It was the Arab 7th century imperial invasion, conquest, colonialization and occupation (you do recognize those terms?) of the Jewish homeland that destroyed, finally, what the Jews had been able to hold on to after the Roman destruction.

    2. Themiddle: thanks for coming back. political representation? try autonomy or Jordanian-linked condominium? if it works for 10 years, move on the a higher degree. Of course, being faithful Israeli citizens is also a possibility if not a probability. Allah forbid any Arab Muslim living under a non-Arab non-Muslim state, eh? And I never could fathom the national distinctions between Arab-Israelis, “Palestinian-Israelis and Jordanian Arabs. Can you?

  81. Galit Sonah Menuvalim

    4/28/2009 at 2:17 am

    Commit suicide yourself moron.
    Remember that you propose setting up an enemy state that will be able to cut Israel in half in about 30 minutes. The border that you so generously propose will leave us a full TEN MILES WIDE at Netanya
    Now you may think that it is a risk worth taking from your pilot’s seat in the US, but from here it looks stupid. The only way to prevent you morons from risking our lives is by moving a few million Jews into the “Liberated Territories”.

  82. ck

    4/28/2009 at 2:44 am

    I supported the withdrawal from Gaza with the understanding that should the situation there become untenable, we’d simply move back in en masse, take over and clear out the combatants. Had Sharon been PM, I have no doubt that that’s what would have happened – a return to IDF Military administration of Gaza and a purging of Gaza’s ability to wage war against Israel’s civilians. But Sharon is a vegetable and Olmert’s limited incursion into Gaza didn’t even manage to free Gilad Shalit, let alone prevent Hamas and its proxies from firing missiles into Israel. The hoped for political capital that was to have accrued to Israel also didn’t materialize. Hamas and rejectionist elements within the Palestinian population remain stronger than ever. Now what is being contemplated is the same failed strategy that was used in Gaza. So what have we learned? What is going to be different this time? Do the Jordanians have the manpower and will needed to prevent the smuggling of weapons and rockets into the WB? Is there any evidence at all of a willingness on the part of the Palestinians to live in peace with Israel? Or will any concession offered by Israel, either unilateral or negotiated, be seen by the Palestinians as another sign of Israeli weakness, as something to be exploited as part of a strategy aimed at the dreamed for annihilation of the Jewish state? Any unilateral concession is useless without the clear and demonstrable willingness of Israel to respond forcefully to any and all acts of aggression. We all know, despite how the media portrays it, that Operation Cast Lead was a joke in terms of inflicting significant damage on Hamas. We should stop being jokers.

  83. themiddle

    4/28/2009 at 2:58 am

    Galit, you seem like a nice person and I enjoy your debating style.

    You are absolutely right that I will have no say in Israel’s future or future borders. I expressed my views AFTER reading Michael Oren express something very similar to what I was thinking. It seems to me that while you might be right and I may be a moron, the odds of both me AND Michael Oren being morons are relatively small.

    By all means, however, feel free to use every device in modern, democratic Israel to get your viewpoint to prevail. The public will ultimately decide this question. My belief is that if you don’t remove Israel from most of Judea and Samaria, Israel will cease to be a Jewish state within a couple of decades and it will happen through pressure upon the state from outside. I may be wrong, but I think Israel is already suffering serious damage because of its presence there and the problems will only increase.

    Do you see how many Israelis seek to evade military service? That is the result of being in the West Bank. Do you see how many fewer officers of the highest quality stay for a military career these days? That is driven by the much-stronger technology marketplace that draws those who can play in that world, but they also prefer to pursue civilian life because of Israel’s presence in the Territory. You see how many young Israelis, individuals and couples, move to Canada, the US, Australia and Western Europe? Part of that is opportunity, but part of it is the moral disconnect they feel with the presence of the military inside Palestinian populations.

    And so it goes. I could bring you examples of failing diplomatic relations that stem from Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, or examples of boycotts and attempted boycotts. I could point you to the pressure every American administration gets from the State Dep’t which stems from their strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy. So that relationship has been damaged for years and decades perhaps unnecessarily.

    If you’re concerned about security, then do half of what I say: remove the civilians and only keep the soldiers in there for now. Take your time and remove them in a couple of years. But start with something because the status quo is not in Israel’s favor at all. You can get out now but in a decade or two you may be far too entangled to get out.

    Israel Medad, Autonomy and Jordanian-linked condominium are both nice ideas but the Palestinians think they have you by the throat and will accept neither. Rather, they plan to play the demographic and occupation cards to bring out the monster-sized apartheid card. Their objective is simple: get into Israel somehow. They will be fine living under non-Arab, non-Muslim state if they believe it’s a matter of time before they have the numbers to take over. Don’t forget they won’t need 50% of the vote because the Jewish public doesn’t vote in one block but splits the vote. The Arab population currently splits the vote between their parties and Meretz and Labor, but if they have an opportunity to win an election, they will vote as a unit.

    So sure, go for Jordanian ties for them, but know that they believe it’s the 11th round and they have you against the ropes. I don’t think it’s quite that bad yet, but I do think it’ll be that bad in a decade or two.

  84. themiddle

    4/28/2009 at 3:05 am

    ck, we are in full agreement. I also expected Israel to keep beating up the Palestinians every time they violated the peace. Obviously that hasn’t happened and the Gaza experience rightly makes everybody skeptical about leaving the WB.

    I hope that some of the concerns will be mitigated by having the new Iron Dome system in place and by targeted killings and incursions that are responsive to attacks. Again, my concern is with the alternative where Israel keeps the status quo. In my opinion, that would be even more dangerous for Israel.

  85. xisnotx

    4/29/2009 at 4:18 am

    Yisrael Medad: Shiloh is outside the separation barrier. What will residents do should the gov’t decide to evacuate?

  86. Yisrael Medad, Shiloh, Israel

    4/29/2009 at 3:06 pm

    a) well, since there’ll be a glorious peace, with the local Arabs coming to terms with the values of coexistence and understanding, we’ll be able to live at least as well as the Arabs in Israel.

    b) if you think that scenario is not realistic, the other options are: there’ll be no peace which separates Jews from their land; a form of autonomy will be adopted with Jordan as the political expression for the local Arab populace; the current situation continues indefinitely; one million Jews arrive in Israel over the next decade; the Arabs try a third intifada and Lieberman wins 30 seats in the next Knesset; all sorts of things

  87. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 3:10 pm

    Xisontx, does that work for you? Or do you demand that Yisrael leave Shiloh when the new Palestine arrives to replace the WB?

    Yisrael,
    You know, of course, that short of a coup in Jordan, nobody is planning to let the Palestinians from Judea and Samaria have political rights there? Right?

  88. xisnotx

    4/29/2009 at 5:03 pm

    um, pardon me tm, but arent YOU demanding Yisrael leave Shiloh? “I advocate a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank to the portion of Judea and Samaria that is west of the Security Fence.” Shiloh is East of the fence.

  89. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 5:20 pm

    I don’t mind if he wants to stay as a resident of the new Palestine. I said the same thing about Gaza. If Jews are willing to live under Palestinian rule, they should be permitted to remain there. It would be understood that they would now give up their status as Israeli residents and would take on the obligations of the society in which they live.

    Now that I’ve answered, please answer my question.

  90. xisnotx

    4/29/2009 at 5:37 pm

    tm: you asked “does that work for me?” in referring to Yisrael’s reply to me. I asked Yisrael what the residents of Shiloh would do if the gov’t evacuated them. I believe he answered me, in oblique fashion, that Shiloh would resist evacuation: “there’ll be no peace which separates Jews from their land.”

    So, I’d say that doesn’t work for the most commonly discussed plan, evacuating the settlements East of the barrier.

    As to whether Yisrael can stay, I believe that is something that should be worked out in bilateral negotiations.

    I’ll also say, I don’t believe Yisrael had the right to move to Shiloh in the first place. I accept the commonly held view that all the settlements in occupied territory are illegal according in int’l law.

    does that suffice?

  91. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 6:56 pm

    “Commonly held.” Plenty of things that are commonly held are wrong. But let’s not go there, we’ve already had that discussion.

    Do you also hold that Palestinians who moved into the Territories in ’48 do not have a right to reside there according to int’l law? Do you hold that Jews who moved after 1967 into areas that had been cleansed by the Arabs or by violence towards Jews are also illegal? In that vein, if you do believe that, then you must also believe that east Jerusalem is occupied and therefore any Jews who reside there are there illegally. Right?

    If that’s the case, what’s the point of bilateral negotiations?

  92. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 7:00 pm

    Actually, let’s go a step further because I have one more question. My suggestion that Jews should move west of the Fence was a pragmatic one and wasn’t based on legal rights because I happen to believe that despite “commonly held” views, this is an open question.

    However, by now there have been quite a few Jewish Israeli children born in the Territories who have grown up there and are now adults. In your view, do those individuals not have the right to reside in a future Palestine that exists over the territory in which they were born?

  93. Tom Morrissey

    4/29/2009 at 7:32 pm

    Middle, in all likelihood, if there’s no right of return, there’ll be no right to stay. The essence of the two-state approach is ethnic separation, however crudely Solomonic that may turn out to be.

  94. Owais

    4/29/2009 at 8:15 pm

    Well, in response to your question, yes. I support a one state solution with Judaism as the state religion. It would still be a democracy so an Islamic party could win. I don’t think it would be like Saudi Arabia because Saudi Arabia has numerous un-Islamic laws, that demean the religion of Islam.

  95. xisnotx

    4/29/2009 at 10:18 pm

    I think you could make a compelling case about settlers born there that would tug on my heartstrings, but the whole question is made moot by the fact that it’s likely unrealistic given the enmity the settlement enterprise has engendered, that settlers will be welcomed to live in a Palestinian state.

    I think the rest of your questions are straightforward. Palestinians displaced in 48 to the territories have refugee status. Any Israeli settling beyond the Green Line after ’67 is living there illegally. E. Jerusalem is occupied. only Israel recognizes it as annexed.

    As for negotiations, Israel has facts on the ground. The Palestinians have legality on their side; allowing settlements to remain would be a Palestinian concession, rather than Israel gets to expand willy-nilly wherever it sees fit & call that a border, which is how you seem to interpret Israeli’s rights according to international law.

  96. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 10:52 pm

    Actually, I’m interpreting international law exactly as it is written and as it was intended to be understood.

    First of all, 242 was written at a time when the Palestinians were not considered players in the diplomatic arena and it was not intended for them. That Jordan abrogated its supposed rights to Judea and Samaria does not give the Palestinians any greater right to land that was not theirs – according to international law – to begin with.

    Second, 242 is very clear that “territories” will be returned and not all of them (not “the territories”. As you well know, it was written this way on purpose following lengthy negotiations. The intention was to enable Israel to protect itself and also to prevent the side which launched the war from being able to lose and then going back to the way it was before.

    So not all territories are to be returned.

    Third, the status of east Jerusalem has never been clear. The city was destined to become an international city in the 1947 Partition proposed by the UNGA. Then the Jordanians took it over in the war and EVICTED all the Jews from there. The world did not accept Jordanian annexation and their control lasted an entire 19 years. In other words, it was a shorter period even than the British Mandate to provide a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine which preceded Jordanian occupation.

    The best you can claim, as a result, is that the Israelis and Jordanians were both occupiers of Jerusalem. To do this, however, you have to ignore the purpose of the British Mandate which was not connected with making a national home for the Jordanians and not even the local Arabs we now call Palestinians. In that regard, Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is a tad stronger than Jordan’s and it’s the Jordanian claim to which the Palestinians are referring when they call it Arab East Jerusalem and demand it in its entirety.

    Fourth, the Green Line was and is not a border. It is an armistice line AS DETERMINED BY ARAB DESIRES, not Israeli. The Green Line does not demarcate a border which is the reason the status of the border and Judea and Samaria are under dispute. That is straightforward and the only way to ignore this is to rewrite the history.

    As for your claim, “rather than Israel gets to expand willy-nilly wherever it sees fit & call that a border, which is how you seem to interpret Israeli’s rights according to international law,” I actually believe that the border will be determined by negotiations. Exactly as the framers of UNSCR 242 envisioned.

    My questions may be straightforward but your answers are off target.

  97. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 10:56 pm

    Tom,

    Middle, in all likelihood, if there’s no right of return, there’ll be no right to stay. The essence of the two-state approach is ethnic separation, however crudely Solomonic that may turn out to be.

    Does that absence of permission to stay apply to the Arabs who live in Israel and didn’t leave in 1948?

    Why not?

  98. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you for your answer Owais.

  99. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 11:01 pm

    Oh and Xisnotx, before I forget, according to int’l law the Palestinians who left in ’48 are refugees but their children aren’t. That’s how the rules of UNCHR would apply to every group in the world. It’s only UNRWA that provides refugee status to the children, grand-children, great-grandchildren and all descendants of the ’48 refugees.

  100. themiddle

    4/29/2009 at 11:25 pm

    Armistice provisions of 1949 agreement with Jordan:

    Article IV:

    2. The basic purpose of the Armistice Demarcation Lines is to delineate the lines beyond which the armed forces of the respective Parties shall not move.

    Article VI

    8. The provisions of this article shall not be interpreted as prejudicing, in any sense, an ultimate political settlement between the Parties to this Agreement.

    9. The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.

    10. Except where otherwise provided, the Armistice Demarcation Lines shall be established, including such withdrawal of forces as may be necessary for this purpose, within ten days from the date on which this Agreement is signed.

    11. The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in this article and in article V shall be subject to such rectification as may be agreed upon by the Parties to this Agreement, and all such rectifications shall have the same force and effect as if they had been incorporated in full in this General Agreement.

  101. Tom Morrissey

    4/30/2009 at 3:28 am

    Middle, Israel has obviously formulated the rights of minorities in its capacity as a sovereign state. Israeli Arabs have rights as Israeli citizens. The Palestinians will have to decide on settlers’ rights once they have a state. You’ve written not unsympathetically about expulsion of minority populations, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

    Will settlers embrace Palestinian national identity in the same way many whites embraced post-colonial, Kenyan or South African identity?

  102. LB

    4/30/2009 at 8:10 am

    tom –

    Will settlers embrace Palestinian national identity in the same way many whites embraced post-colonial, Kenyan or South African identity?

    Is that a necessary condition? If so, what about Israeli Arabs, who over the years have started to identify less as Israelis?

  103. themiddle

    4/30/2009 at 11:09 am

    You’ve written not unsympathetically about expulsion of minority populations

    :The Middle’s jaw drops to the floor:

    Will settlers embrace Palestinian national identity in the same way many whites embraced post-colonial, Kenyan or South African identity?

    “Settlers” like Yisrael Medad speak the same language as their ancestors of 2000 years ago who lived in these same places which we’re now calling “occupied” and to which you’re referring as “colonial.” Their ancestors read the same Torah as Yisrael Medad, worshipped the same God, felt the same unifying force of being part of a nation, lived on this land, maintained their connection to the land even after being expelled, maintained their connection to the traditions and language that came from this land, some maintained an unbroken presence on this land for the entire two thousand years, and all of these connections precede the birth of Islam by several hundred years as well as the dominance of the Arabs in the region.

    I don’t think any Afrikaaners can make the same claim about the country they took over.

    Judea and Samaria, and in particular Jerusalem, are the cradle of Jewish civilization and of the Jewish nation. I understand the desire to impose colonialist structure to the return of the Jewish nation to its home in Zion, a home that has been home physically and in the hearts and minds of Jews for millenia, but that is precisely what doesn’t make this colonialism. Hebron, just as one example, has had a continuous Jewish presence for more than 2000 years until the Arab pogroms of 1929 which caused the community to disband and flee. Calling those Jews who now live there “settlers” and “colonists” is unjust from every perspective. I’m not discussing their behavior here, I’m just discussing the right to live in this area.

    When I advocate leaving this heart of the Jewish soul, I do it with sadness and with a sense of injustice. I recognize that Arabs were expelled or left what is now Israel and are not permitted to return, and understand the tradeoff for me keeping that area is that I have to give up this area. But colonialism? No. My ancestors walked this land, worshipped here, lived here and established my traditions and culture right here.

  104. Yisrael Medad, Shiloh, Israel

    4/30/2009 at 2:00 pm

    xisnotx wrote:

    “I asked Yisrael what the residents of Shiloh would do if the gov’t evacuated them. I believe he answered me, in oblique fashion, that Shiloh would resist evacuation: ‘there’ll be no peace which separates Jews from their land.’”

    Oblique? I think you went obtuse. I didn’t imply that at all. I was referring to the possibility that a peace treaty/agreement would ever be achieved that would satisfy Arab nationalist aspiration on the one hand and Jewish security demands on the other (and I am leaving out the element of Jewish national aspirations).

    And even if we resisted, I think that’s our democratic right to do so, as long as we don;t use violence and I think what happened at Gush Qatif is enough of an example that anyone implying, in an oblique or direct fashion, that the “settlers will revolt” is way off the mark.

  105. Ben-Yehudah

    4/30/2009 at 6:41 pm

    {“Arabs come to our towns, to our cities, Mustafa pretends to be Moshe, they take our women, our Jewish girls”
    Meir Kahane}

    1. Yeah, so?

    2. For more on the political incorrectness of Torah, see “Don’t Rejoice at Purim and Pesach?!” machonshilo.or...

    3. The Middle, what about the leftists who uproot our vineyards, cut water supplies and olive trees and blame it on us, and are violent toward the IDF at Nil’in. What are you the middle of? I’m the “middle” as I follow Torah, and don’t trying paskin away the political incorrectness of it.

    4. My compliments to ck and crew for all the traffic you get {serious, not sarcastic}. I hope my part in the debate helped a bit. I may not agree with a lot of things expressed on your site, but it’s definitely not boring. :-}

    5. I’ll be unsubscribing from this string for now. So, anyone desiring to visit me {yell, scream, debate}, please feel free to do so at Esser Agaroth, otherwise feel free to talk about me behind my back. ;-}

    6. I’ll be in the center of JM for Shabbath, a first for me, and very unlike me {usually I’m in G. Shaul or Meah Shearim}, maybe I’ll bump into ck. :-} I don’t know where you live, but I might venture into Nahlaoth for the heck of it. I hope I come out alive.

  106. Tom Morrissey

    4/30/2009 at 7:39 pm

    Under Middle’s unsustainable analysis, if Jews/Israelis at some point occupied some portion of the WB (and elsewhere, presumably), later Jewish settlement of such lands, whatever the immediate legal or political context, can’t be colonialism.

    Many nations have centuries-, or indeed millenia-long histories in which they held sway over larger, or far different, territory than they now control. Poland and Lithuania once stretched to the Black Sea. The Serbs, as we know, think Kosova belongs to them as the seat of Serbian Orthodoxy. Armenia was once a substantial state; today, even Mount Ararat, towering over Yerevan, lies in Turkey.

    If history is the final court of appeal for determining a nation’s borders, than Israel should make room for Canaan. This promotes a backward-looking grandiosity and attitude of national victimhood that informed the irredentist fantasies of 20th century fascists. Look no further than Milosevic.

  107. themiddle

    4/30/2009 at 8:26 pm

    Whoa, now I’m a fascist?!

    Let’s see if I understand. The fact that Israel and Jerusalem reside at the heart of Jewish faith and identity and have been there since the Jews were actually in Israel and Jerusalem 2000 years ago can be washed away because it’s convenient to ignore it. The fact that there was a continued presence on this land for those two millenia is also moot, in your mind. And best of all, the claims to the land of people who didn’t own it, didn’t use most of it for either residential or agrarian purposes, didn’t consider themselves a nation, were directly responsible for the removal of those Jews who did live in this area and now seek to deny any historical, religious or cultural connection of the Jews to this area somehow supersede the rights of the Jews to this land.

    And Canaan? I didn’t realize the Canaananites were around today with a vibrant culture that reflects and at times mirrors closely their traditions on this land two thousand years ago.

    No, actually, history is the final court of appeal here. The Palestinians claim their historical ties to this land are what grant them rights to it. When Xisnotx talks about commonly held views, he is speaking of an evolving international consensus on this issue. This is is ironic considering the circumstances, but nevertheless it is Palestinian history which has taken over the imaginations of the world and Jewish history on this land has been relegated to “they got it because of the Holocaust.” The idea that a country where 65% of its inhabitants were born there can still be considered colonialist by a world that supports a new nation where only a small percentage were born on this land as having ownership claims is what I find extraordinary.

    Regardless, I am not claiming for a solution based on these ideas. These are simply my views on the subject and a response to your comment comparing WB settlers to Afrikaaners.

    I believe the land will have to be divided, that Jerusalem will have to be shared, that there should be two states, that the Palestinians will do well to have a real economy and a real country for which they care instead of being concerned with the eradication of Israel. I do not deny their claim to nationhood or their connection to the land and the place. I do not deny their history or claim that my beliefs about my history should dominate theirs.

    No, I am suggesting that recent history with its wars, bloodshed, outcomes and even international laws will and should dictate the outcome here. The future will either bring continued war and the potential eventual destruction of Israel (with no guarantee of what will replace it), or the future will bring a settlement that pretty much resembles the offer made by the Israelis at Taba.

    If the Israeli settlers who live in Judea and Samaria remain there, the former outcome is far more likely than if they leave the WB.

  108. Tom Morrissey

    5/1/2009 at 3:45 am

    Middle, there’s a difference between asserting historical links to the land, as Israel properly does, and claiming that such links entitle the state to maximalist borders without reference to intervening events or facts on the ground. There’s no need to analyze the Palestinian narrative. Who cares what they say the history is? The fact is, there are lots of Arabs on the WB. Is there a court out there that will definitively resolve competing historical claims? This is a trap that’s cost precious decades, and many lives. A practical, realpolitik approach (such as the one I think Middle suggests) is needed instead.

    Look at the comments to your own post, Middle. Those how claim that God gave the land of Israel (including Judea and Samaria) to the Jews haven’t a clue about what to do with the Arabs. Or if they have one, they aren’t saying. This historically- (and theocratically-) rooted, zero-sum mentality reduces the other side to an abstraction, or makes it disappear entirely. It’s the basis of extremism. It will not promote an end to conflict.

  109. Victor

    5/1/2009 at 6:55 am

    Disengagement is dangerous to Jewish security. Annexation is a political quagmire and potential Lebanization of Israel.

    One option none of you have yet considered… a progressive annexation. It should be obvious to anyone that you can’t just take two people who have been fighting for 100+ years and throw them together. There is too much bad blood, too many tears and anger. So let’s not throw everyone together all at once.

    Suppose tomorrow the Israeli government came out with a detailed, comprehensive 25, or 50 year plan for annexing the West Bank and integrating it economically and politically into Israel. There will be benchmarks for developing WB infrastructure, integrating schooling, teaching Hebrew in WB and and Arabic in Israel, developing joint police academies, introducing civil society, law, health, civil services, and all the other facets of a nation.

    Think of the earthquake this will create in Palestinian society. Instead of competing for who will kill more Jews, new factions will arise for who will be best prepared to integrate into Israeli society, who will take advantage of Israeli economic opportunities, etc.

    Think of the earthquake it will create in diplomatic circles. It will affirm Jewish sovereignty from the river to the sea and provide a transformational blueprint that will wash away Oslo, the Roadmap, Annapolis, etc. The PLO leadership will fight it tooth and nail, but Fatah thugs are not exactly loved by their people. Today, Abbas and Fayaad, who are both in power beyond their constitutional terms, resemble ME dictators more than democratic leaders, complete with private armies funded by the US.

    New councils can be created within Palestinian communities of genuine people with grassroots support – the kind that existed during the 1st intifada before Arafat’s goons arrived from Tunis – to liaison with Israeli institutions and build up their communities.

    When viewed as a generational effort, many of the problems we are all so concerned about subside in intensity and can be dealt with pragmatically, without ethnically cleansing half a million Jews, and in the process endangering another 5 million in Israel’s heartland.

    Who knows what the demographics will be like in 25 years, but I do know this… the best way to lower Arab fertility is by educating Arab women; the best way to increase Jewish fertility is by educating Jewish women about Yiddishkeit.

    And if you remain a pessimist on demography, 25 years of peace is quite a track record to build on, with a generation of Palestinians who were never at war with the Jewish state, and who will take for granted Jewish presence on the land (the entire land).

    Something to munch on, and if you like it, by all means spread it around. There’s way too much doom and gloom in our camp these days.

  110. xisnotx

    5/1/2009 at 7:32 am

    tm: “I actually believe that the border will be determined by negotiations. Exactly as the framers of UNSCR 242 envisioned.”

    you think the framers envisioned Israel plonking down a half million of its own citizens, on confiscated & stolen land, building a wall around them & then saying, ok let’s negotiate the border?

    did you notice a little thing in 242 about the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force — how do you interpret that one?

  111. themiddle

    5/1/2009 at 12:12 pm

    Acquisition of whose territory?

    The Ottomans no longer had claim to the territory in question.

    The British Mandate was complete and in any case under the Mandate this land was intended to be made into a home for the Jewish people as required by the League of Nations.

    When Jordan conquered it in 1948, its attempts at annexation were rejected.

    So please tell me whose territory this is. From whom did the Israelis acquire the territory by force? From the Jordanians? Well, they acquired it by force as well.

    And you’re right, the framers of 242 had no idea that Palestinians would proceed to terrorize the world and Israel, would launch wars after being offered a state, have charters that delegitimize Jewish connections to Israel or launch hundreds of suicide bombers, dozens of whom would succeed in their missions, against Israeli civilian targets.

  112. themiddle

    5/1/2009 at 12:13 pm

    Are the settlements legal? Resolved
    By Eugene W. Rostow,
    Copyright 1991 The New Republic Inc.
    The New Republic, October 21, 1991

    Assuming the Middle East conference actually does take place, its official task will be to achieve peace between Israel and its Levantine neighbors in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War in 1967, sets out criteria for peace-making by the parties; Resolution 338, passed after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, makes resolution 242 legally binding and orders the parties to carry out its terms forthwith. Unfortunately, confusion reigns, even in high places, about what those resolutions require.

    For twenty-four years Arab states have pretended that the two resolutions are “ambiguous” and can be interpreted to suit their desires. And some European, Soviet and even American officials have cynically allowed Arab spokesman to delude themselves and their people–to say nothing of Western public opinion–about what the resolutions mean. It is common even for American journalists to write that Resolution 242 is “deliberately ambiguous,” as though the parties are equally free to rely on their own reading of its key provisions.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces “from territories” it occupied during the Six-Day War–not from “the” territories nor from “all” the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

    Five-and-a-half months of vehement public diplomacy in 1967 made it perfectly clear what the missing definite article in Resolution 242 means. Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawals from “all” the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the “fragile” and “vulnerable” Armistice Demarcation Lines, but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called “secure and recognized” boundaries, agreed to by the parties. In negotiating such agreements, the parties should take into account, among other factors, security considerations, access to the international waterways of the region, and, of course, their respective legal claims.

    Resolution 242 built on the text of the Armistice Agreements of 1949, which provided (except in the case of Lebanon) that the Armistice Demarcation Lines separating the military forces were “not to be construed in any sense” as political or territorial boundaries, and that “no provision” of the Armistice Agreements “Shall in any way prejudice the right, claims, and positions” of the parties “in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine problem.” In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai, which had never been part of the British Mandate.

    For security it depended on patrolled demilitarization and the huge area of the desert rather than on territorial change. As a result, more than 90 percent of the territories Israel occupied in 1967 are now under Arab sovereignty. It is hardly surprising that some Israelis take the view that such a transfer fulfills the territorial requirements of Resolution 242, no matter how narrowly they are construed.

    Resolution 242 leaves the issue of dividing the occupied areas between Israel and its neighbors entirely to the agreement of the parties in accordance with the principles it sets out. It was, however, negotiated with full realization that the problem of establishing “a secure and recognized” boundary between Israel and Jordan would be the thorniest issue of the peace-making process. The United States has remained firmly opposed to the creation of a third Palestinian state on the territory of the Palestine Mandate. An independent Jordan or a Jordan linked in an economic union with Israel is desirable from the point of view of everybody’s security and prosperity. And a predominantly Jewish Israel is one of the fundamental goals of Israeli policy. It should be possible to reconcile these goals by negotiation, especially if the idea of an economic union is accepted.

    The Arabs of the West Bank could constitute the population of an autonomous province of Jordan or of Israel, depending on the course of the negotations. Provisions for a shift of populations or, better still, for individual self-determination are a possible solution for those West Bank Arabs who would prefer to live elsewhere. All these approaches were explored in 1967 and 1968.

    One should note, however, that Syria cannot be allowed to take over Jordan and the West Bank, as it tried to do in 1970.

    The heated question of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank during the occupation period should be viewed in this perspective. The British Mandate recognized the right of the Jewish people to “close settlement” in the whole of the Mandated territory. It was provided that local conditions might require Great Britain to “postpone” or “withhold” Jewish settlement in what is now Jordan. This was done in 1922. But the Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan river, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors. And perhaps not even then, in view of Article 80 of the U.N. Charter,

    “the Palestine article,” which provides that “nothing in the Charter shall be construed … to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments….”

    Some governments have taken the view that under the Geneva Convention of 1949, which deals with the rights of civilians under military occupation, Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal, on the ground that the Convention prohibits an occupying power from flooding the occupied territory with its own citizens. President Carter supported this view, but President Reagan reversed him, specifically saying that the settlements are legal but that further settlements should be deferred since they pose a psychological obstacle to the peace process.

    In any case, the issue of the legality of the settlements should not come up in the proposed conference, the purpose of which is to end the military occupation by making peace. When the occupation ends, the Geneva Convention becomes irrelevant. If there is to be any division of the West Bank between Israel and Jordan, the Jewish right of settlement recognized by the Mandate will have to be taken into account in the process of making peace.

    This reading of Resolution 242 has always been the keystone of American policy.In launching a major peace initiative on September 1, 1982, President Reagan said, “I have personally followed and supported Israel’s heroic struggle for survival since the founding of the state of Israel thirty-four years ago: in the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.”

    Yet some Bush administration statements and actions on the Arab-Israeli question, and especially Secretary of State James Baker’s disastrous speech of May 22, 1989, betray a strong impulse to escape from the resolutions as they were negotiated, debated, and adopted, and award to the Arabs all the territories between the 1967 lines and the Jordan river, including East Jerusalem. The Bush administration seems to consider the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be “foreign” territory to which Israel has no claim. Yet the Jews have the same right to settle there as they have to settle in Haifa. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were never parts of Jordan, and Jordan’s attempt to annex the West Bank was not generally recognized and has now been abandoned. The two parcels of land are parts of the Mandate that have not yet been allocated to Jordan, to Israel, or to any other state, and are a legitimate subject for discussion.

    The American position in the coming negotiations should return to the fundamentals of policy and principle that have shaped American policy towards the Middle East for three-quarters of a century. Above all, rising above irritation and pique, it should stand as firmly for fidelity to law in dealing with the Arab-Israeli dispute as President Bush did during the Gulf war. Fidelity to law is the essence of peace, and the only practical rule for making a just and lasting peace. .

  113. themiddle

    5/1/2009 at 12:14 pm

    Historical Approach to the Issue of Legality of Jewish Settlement Activity
    by the Late Eugene W. Rostow

    The New Republic on April 23, 1990

    The Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the Mandate under which Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was created. The Mandate for Palestine differs in one important respect from the other League of Nations mandates, which were trusts for the benefit of the indigenous population. The Palestine Mandate, recognizing “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country,” is dedicated to “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing nonjewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

    The Mandate qualifies the Jewish right of settlement and political development in Palestine in only one respect. Article 25 gave Great Britain and the League Council discretion to “postpone” or “withhold” the Jewish people’s right of settlement in the TransJordanian province of Palestine-now the Kingdom of Jordan-if they decided that local conditions made such action desirable.

    With the divided support of the council, the British took that step in 1922. The Mandate does not, however, permit even a temporary suspension of the Jewish right of settlement in the parts of the Mandate west of the Jordan River.

    The Armistice Lines of 1949, which are part of the West Bank boundary, represent nothing but the position of the contending armies when the final cease-fire was achieved in the War of Independence. And the Armistice Agreements specifically provide, except in the case of Lebanon, that the demarcation lines can be changed by agreement when the parties move from armistice to peace. Resolution 242 is based on that provision of the Armistice Agreements and states certain criteria that would justify changes in the demarcation lines when the parties make peace. Many believe that the Palestine Mandate was somehow terminated in 1947, when the British government resigned as the mandatory power. This is incorrect. A trust never terminates when a trustee dies, resigns, embezzles the trust property, or is dismissed. The authority responsible for the trust appoints a new trustee, or otherwise arranges for the fulfillment of its purpose.

    Thus in the case of the Mandate for German South West Africa, the International Court of justice found the South African government to be derelict in its duties as the mandatory power, and it was deemed to have resigned. Decades of struggle and diplomacy then resulted in the creation of the new state of Namibia, which has just come into being. In Palestine the British Mandate ceased to be operative as to the territories of Israel and Jordan when those states were created and recognized by the international community. But its rules apply still to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which have not yet been allocated either to Israel or to Jordan or become an independent state.

    Jordan attempted to annex the West Bank in 1951, but that annexation was never generally recognized, even by the Arab states, and now Jordan has abandoned all its claims to the territory. The State Department has never denied that under the Mandate “the Jewish people” have the right to settle in the area. Instead, it said that Jewish settlements in the West Bank violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which deals with the protection of civilians in wartime. Where the territory of one contracting party is occupied by another contracting party, the Convention prohibits many of the inhumane practices of the Nazis and the Soviets before and during the Second World War-the mass transfer of people into or out of occupied territories for purposes of extermination, slave labor, or colonization, for example. Article 49 provides that the occupying power “shall not deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

    But the Jewish settlers in the West Bank are volunteers. They have not been “deported” or “transferred” by the government of Israel, and their movement involves none of the atrocious purposes or harmful effects on the existing population the Geneva Convention was designed to prevent. Furthermore, the Convention applies only to acts by one signatory “carried out on the territory of another.” The West Bank is not the territory of a signatory power, but an unallocated part of the British Mandate. It is hard, therefore, to see how even the most literal-minded reading of the Convention could make it apply to Jewish settlement in territories of the British Mandate west of the Jordan River. Even if the Convention could be construed to prevent settlements during the period of occupation, however, it could do no more than suspend, not terminate, the rights conferred by the Mandate. Those rights can be ended only by the establishment and recognition of a new state or the incorporation of the territories into an old one.

    As claimants to the territory, the Israelis have denied that they are required to comply with the Geneva Convention but announced that they will do so as a matter of grace. The Israeli courts apply the Convention routinely, sometimes deciding against the Israeli government. Assuming for the moment the general applicability of the Convention, it could well be considered a violation if the Israelis deported convicts to the area or encouraged the settlement of people who had no right to live there (Americans, for example). But how can the Convention be deemed to apply to Jews who have a right to settle in the territories under international law: a legal right assured by treaty and specifically protected by Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, which provides that nothing in the Charter shall be construed “to alter in any manner” rights conferred by existing international instruments” like the Mandate? The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there. Another principle of international law may affect the problem of the Jewish settlements. Under international law, an occupying power is supposed to apply the prevailing law of the occupied territory at the municipal level unless it interferes with the necessities of security or administration or is “repugnant to elementary conceptions of justice.” From 1949 to 1967, when Jordan was the military occupant of the West Bank, it applied its own laws to prevent any Jews from living in the territory. To suggest that Israel as occupant is required to enforce such Jordanian laws-a necessary implication of applying the Convention-is simply absurd. When the Allies occupied Germany after the Second World War, the abrogation of the Nuremberg Laws was among their first acts. The general expectation of international law is that military occupations last a short time, and are succeeded by a state of peace established by treaty or otherwise. In the case of the West Bank, the territory was occupied by Jordan between 1949 and 1967, and has been occupied by Israel since 1967. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 rule that the Arab states and Israel must make peace, and that when “a just and lasting peace” is reached in the Middle East, Israel should withdraw from some but not all of the territory it occupied in the course of the 1967 war. The Resolutions leave it to the parties to agree on the terms of peace.

    The controversy about Jewish settlements in the West Bank is not, therefore, about legal rights but about the political will to override legal rights. Is the United States prepared to use all its influence in Israel to award the whole of the West Bank to Jordan or to a new Arab state, and force Israel back to its 1967 borders? Throughout Israel’s occupation, the Arab countries, helped by the United States, have pushed to keep Jews out of the territories, so that at a convenient moment, or in a peace negotiation, the claim that the West Bank is “Arab” territory could be made more plausible. Some in Israel favor the settlements for the obverse reason: to reinforce Israel’s claim for the fulfillment of the Mandate and of Resolution 242 in a peace treaty that would at least divide the territory. For the international community, the issue is much deeper and more difficult: whether the purposes of the Mandate can be considered satisfied if the Jews finally receive only the parts of Palestine behind the Armistice Lines-less than 17.5 percent of the land promised them after the First World War. The extraordinary recent changes in the international environment have brought with them new diplomatic opportunities for the United States and its allies, not least in the Middle East.

    Soviet military aid apparently is no longer available to the Arabs for the purpose of making another war against Israel. The intifada has failed, and the Arabs’ bargaining position is weakening. It now may be possible to take long steps toward peace. But to do so, the participants in the Middle East negotiations- the United States, Israel, Egypt, and the PLO- will have to look beyond the territories

  114. themiddle

    5/1/2009 at 12:16 pm

    In an interview in the Beirut Daily Star on June 12, 1974, Lord Caradon stated:

    “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967 because these positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers on each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them, and I think we were right not to.”

    Professor Julius Stone, one of the twentieth century’s leading authorities on the Law of Nations, wrote in his work “Israel and Palestine – Assault on the Law of Nations:”

    “International law forbids acquisition by unlawful force, but not where, as in the case of Israel’s self-defence in 1967, the entry on the territory was lawful. It does not so forbid it, in particular, when the force is used to stop an aggressor, for the effect of such prohibition would be to guarantee to all potential aggressors that, even if their aggression failed, all territory lost in the attempt would be automatically returned to them. Such a rule would be absurd to the point of lunacy. There is no such rule”.

  115. themiddle

    5/1/2009 at 12:27 pm

    United Kingdom

    Lord Caradon, sponsor of the draft that was about to be adopted, stated, before the vote in the Security Council on Resolution 242:

    ” . . . the draft Resolution is a balanced whole. TO add to it or to detract from it would destroy the balance and also destroy the wide measure of agreement we have achieved together. It must be considered as a whole as it stands. I suggest that we have reached the stage when most, if not all, of us want the draft Resolution, the whole draft Resolution and nothing but the draft Resolution.” (S/PV 1382, p. 31, of 22.11.67)

    Lord Caradon, interviewed on Kol Israel in February 1973:
    Question: “This matter of the (definite) article which is there in French and is missing in English, is that really significant?”

    Answer: “the purposes are perfectly clear, the principle is stated in the preamble, the necessity for withdrawal is stated in the operative section. And then the essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognized is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognized boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognized. They will not be secure unless they are recognized. And that is why one has to work for agreement. This is essential. I would defend absolutely what we did. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary . . . “

    Mr. Michael Stewart, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in reply to a question in Parliament, 17 November 1969:

    Question: “What is the British interpretation of the wording of the 1967 Resolution? Does the Right Honourable Gentleman understand it to mean that the Israelis should withdraw from all territories taken in the late war?”
    Mr. Stewart: “No, Sir. That is not the phrase used in the Resolution. The Resolution speaks of secure and recognized boundaries. These words must be read concurrently with the statement on withdrawal.”

    Mr. Michael Stewart, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in a reply to a question in Parliament, 9 December 1969:

    “As I have explained before, there is reference, in the vital United Nations Security Council Resolution, both to withdrawal from territories and to secure and recognized boundaries. As I have told the House previously, we believe that these two things should be read concurrently and that the omission of the word ‘all’ before the word ‘territories’ is deliberate.”

    Mr. George Brown, British Foreign Secretary in 1967, on 19 January 1970:

    “I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. “I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said ‘Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied’, and not from ‘the’ territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories.” (The Jerusalem Post, 23.1.70)

    United States of America

    Mr. Arthur Goldberg, US representative, in the Security Council in the course of the discussions which preceded the adoption of Resolution 242:

    “To seek withdrawal without secure and recognized boundaries … would be just as fruitless as to seek secure and recognized boundaries without withdrawal. Historically, there have never been secure or recognized boundaries in the area. Neither the armistice lines of 1949 nor the cease-fire lines of 1967 have answered that description … such boundaries have yet to be agreed upon. An agreement on that point is an absolute essential to a just and lasting peace just as withdrawal is . . . ” (S/PV. 1377, p. 37, of 15. 11.67)

    President Lyndon Johnson, 10 September 1968:

    “We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders. Some such lines must be agreed to by the neighbours involved.”

    Mr. Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State, 12 July 1970 (NBC “Meet the Press”):

    “That Resolution did not say ‘withdrawal to the pre-June 5 lines’. The Resolution said that the parties must negotiate to achieve agreement on the so-called final secure and recognized borders. In other words, the question of the final borders is a matter of negotiations between the parties.”

    Eugene V. Rostow, Professor of Law and Public Affairs, Yale University, who, in 1967, was US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs:

    a) ” … paragraph 1 (i) of the Resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces ‘from territories occupied in the recent conflict’, and not ‘from the territories occupied in the recent conflict’. Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word ‘the’ failed in the Security Council. It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines.” (American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 69)
    b) “The agreement required by paragraph 3. of the Resolution, the Security Council said, should establish ‘secure and recognized boundaries’ between Israel and its neighbours ‘free from threats or acts of force’, to replace the Armistice Demarcation lines established in 1949, and the cease-fire lines of June 1967. The Israeli armed forces should withdraw to such lines as part of a comprehensive agreement, settling all the issues mentioned in the Resolution, and in a condition of peace.” (American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 68)

    USSR

    Mr. Vasily Kuznetsov said in discussions that preceded the adoption of Resolution 242:

    ” … phrases such as ‘secure and recognized boundaries’. What does that mean? What boundaries are these? Secure, recognized – by whom, for what? Who is going to judge how secure they are? Who must recognize them? … there is certainly much leeway for different interpretations which retain for Israel the right to establish new boundaries and to withdraw its troops only as far as the lines which it judges convenient.” (S/PV. 1373, p. 112, of 9.11.67)

    Brazil

    Mr. Geraldo de Carvalho Silos, Brazilian representative, speaking in the Security Council after the adoption of Resolution 242:

    “We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East has necessarily to be based on secure, permanent boundaries freely agreed upon and negotiated by the neighbouring States.” (S/PV. 1382, p. 66, 22.11.67)

    icej.nl/nieuws...

  116. Victor

    5/1/2009 at 3:53 pm

    TM, I’ve been around the block, but I’ve never seen such an excellent series of articles on Israel’s legal position. With all the lawyers in the Israeli arsenal, to just abandon the pseudo-legal media battlefield for Palestinian to repeat their accusations of Israeli violations of international law – particularly regarding the settlements – is incredibly inept.

    I don’t know what contacts you guys have, but you should get one of these vaunted Israeli attorneys to write a series of articles that publicly explain Israel’s official legal position and reasoning vis-a-vis settlements, occupation, military action, etc. Perhaps they are excellent at arguing such things in closed company, or court, but I’ve seen nothing of significance presented in this area to the international media, and that is where the real war is being fought these days.

  117. xisnotx

    5/1/2009 at 4:34 pm

    Fisk: One missing word sowed the seads of catastrophe

    independent.co...

    [...]
    I’ve been going back through my files on 242 and discovered a most elucidating paper by John McHugo, who was a visiting fellow at the Scottish Centre for International Law at Edinburgh University. He points out that pro-Israeli lawyers have been saying for some years that “Resolution 242 unanimously called for withdrawal from ‘territories’ rather than withdrawal from ‘all the territories’. Its choice of words was deliberate… they signify that withdrawal if required from some but not all the territories”.

    McHugo is, so far as I know, the only man to re-examine the actual UN debates on 242 and they make very unhappy reading. The French and Spanish versions of the text actually use the definite article. But the Brits – apparently following a bit of strong-arm tactics from the Americans – did not use “the”. Lord Caradon, our man at the UN, insisted on putting in the phrase about the “inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war” in order to stop the Israelis claiming that they could cherry-pick which lands to return and which to hand on to. Britain accepted Jordan’s rule over the West Back – the PLO were still shunned as super-terrorists at the time – but it did no good. Abba Eban, Israel’s man on the East River, did his best to persuade Caradon to delete both “the” and the bit about the inadmissability of territory through war. He won the first battle, but not the second.

    That great American statesman George Ball was to recount how, when the Arabs negotiated over 242 in early November of 1967 – at the Waldorf Astoria (these guys knew how to pick the swankiest hotels for political betrayal) – the US ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg, told King Hussein that America “could not guarantee that everything would be returned by Israel”. The Arabs distrusted Goldberg because he was known to be pro-Zionist, but Hussein was much comforted when US Secretary of State Dean Rusk assured him in Washington that the US “did not approve of Israeli retention of the West Bank”. Hussein was further encouraged when he met President Johnson who told him that Israeli withdrawal might take place in “six months”. Goldberg further boosted his confidence. “Don’t worry. They’re on board,” he said of the Israelis. Ho ho.

    It’s intriguing to note that several other nations at the UN were troubled by the absence of “the”. The Indian delegate, for example, pointed out that the resolution referred to “all the territories – I repeat all the territories – occupied by Israel…” while the Soviet Union (which knew all about occupying other people’s countries) stated that “we understand the decision to mean the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all, and we repeat, all territories belonging to Arab states and seized by Israel…”. President Johnson rebuffed the Soviets and bluntly refused to put the word “all” in the resolution. Bulgaria, not surprisingly, said much the same as the Soviets. Brazil expressed reservations – rightly so – about “the clarity of the wording”. The Argentinians “would have preferred a clearer text”. In other words, the future tragedy was spotted at the time. But we did nothing. The Americans had stitched it up and the Brits went along with it. The Arabs were not happy but foolishly – and typically – relied on Caradon’s assurances that “all” the territories was what 242 meant, even if it didn’t say so. Israel still fought hard to get rid of the “inadmissability” bit, even when it had got “the” out.

    Ye gods! Talk about sewing the seeds of future catastrophe. Well, Colin Powell, when he was George W Bush’s secretary of state, gutlessly told US diplomats to call the West Bank “disputed” rather than “occupied” – which suited the Israelis just fine although, as McHugo pointed out, the Israelis might like to consider what would happen if the Arabs talked about those bits of Israel which were not included in the original UN partition plan as “disputed” as well. Besides, George W’s infamous letter to Ariel Sharon, saying he could, in effect, keep large bits of the West Bank, set the seal on Johnson’s deception.

    McHugo mischievously adds that a mandatory warning in a city that says “dogs must be kept on the lead near ponds in the park” clearly means that “all” dogs and “all” ponds are intended. These days, of course, we use walls to keep dogs out. Palestinians, too.

  118. xisnotx

    5/1/2009 at 4:39 pm

    momentmag.com/...
    October/November 2007

    Opinion

    GERSHOM GORENBERG

    Uncandid CAMERA

    Let’s be fair: Some criticism of media coverage of Israel is justified—-and some of the media’s unflattering coverage is accurate and necessary. It is not the press’s job to provide PR for any government.

    I got hit by CAMERA a couple of years ago, to my great relief. Recently, I nearly got swiped again, but not quite. Alas.

    CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, is a Boston-based watchdog group that says it aims at “improving coverage of Israel and the Middle East” by monitoring the media and responding to what it regards as biased reporting. It’s the organizational embodiment of some American Jews’ discomfort with any media coverage that fails to portray Israel with a halo. As a responsible member of Israel’s fourth estate, I’ve often been critical of my country’s policies. Yet CAMERA ignored me—while attacking colleagues whom I respect for solid, careful writing on the Mideast. I wondered what I was doing wrong.

    Finally, CAMERA demanded a correction of a 2006 op-ed article I wrote for the Los Angeles Times about U.S. policy on the legality of Israeli settlements. More recently, it bashed CNN for its reporting on the same subject in a three-part documentary, God’s Warriors. CAMERA left me out of the latter tiff, though CNN was citing my research and interviewed me for the documentary. Both incidents show that in pursuit of “accuracy,” CAMERA can be cavalier with facts.

    The facts are that, from the Johnson to the Carter administrations, Washington regarded settlements as violating international law. So did the Israeli government’s own legal expert, Theodor Meron, at the time it approved the first settlements. Meron, now recognized as one of the world’s top authorities on international law, stands by his original opinion.
    In my L.A. Times op-ed, “West Bank Buildup,” I noted that in 1968 the State Department instructed the U.S. embassy in Israel to remind Israeli officials that America considered the settlements illegal. CAMERA shot off a letter to the editor insisting that I was mistaken: “only Carter’s administration… held that the settlements violated international law.” When contacted by my editor, I explained that I was quoting a cable dated April 8, 1968, signed by Secretary of State Dean Rusk. It said that settling Israeli civilians in the West Bank was “contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, which states ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’” In 1976, I added, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. William Scranton said the same thing in the Security Council.

    Case closed. Sort of. On its website—for instance, in a screed against CNN’s God’s Warriors—CAMERA continues to attribute the position that settlements are illegal to the Carter administration alone. For PR purposes, this is convenient. Many Jews regarded Jimmy Carter as unfriendly to Israel long before his recent book. But if CAMERA were really interested in accuracy, it would revise its story.

    It’s true, as CAMERA says, that Ronald Reagan said in 1981 that settlements were “not illegal,” even if he did call them “ill-advised” and “unnecessarily provocative.” Reagan, no legal scholar, blindsided the State Department’s legal office with a view that could politely be termed unusual. Since then, though, U.S. administrations have phrased their opposition to the settlements in political, rather than legal, terms.

    Internationally, this is the minority view. William Quandt, author of Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967, says that other than Israel and the U.S., “no other governments that I know of” accept it. Quandt suggests that after Reagan deemed settlement legal, “anyone who said it wasn’t…would be viewed as anti-Israeli” in the U.S. Aaron David Miller—the ex-diplomat who advised six secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations, and author of the forthcoming The Much Too Promised Land—suggests another kind of pressure. Once a Mideast peace process was underway, American presidents and secretaries of state “knew they had to maintain the trust” of Israeli leaders and so avoided the legal issue.

    One scholar who clearly labeled settlements illegal was Meron, who in 1967 was the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser. Before the first settlement was approved, he wrote a top-secret memo stating that settling Israeli civilians in the territories “contravenes the explicit provisions of the Geneva Convention,” though temporary military bases, he said, were acceptable. I found this now-declassified document in the Israel State Archives and published it last year in my book, The Accidental Empire.

    CNN quoted Meron’s memo in God’s Warriors. But CAMERA, in attack mode, faulted the network for failing to mention “more senior Israeli experts.” This is silly several times over. As the Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser, Meron—the government’s in-house authority on international law at the time—was the senior expert. And before Meron wrote his opinion, then-Justice Minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira had told Prime Minister Levi Eshkol the same thing.

    Meron later left Israel to teach at New York University, where he gained stature as one of the world’s leading scholars on the laws of war. As an American citizen, he was appointed to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where he is a member of the Appeals Chamber. In an interview with CNN, he affirmed his original position on settlement. CAMERA skips this context in its effort to misrepresent the legal issues.

    Let’s be fair: Some criticism of media coverage of Israel is justified—and some of the media’s unflattering coverage is accurate and necessary. It is not the press’s job to provide PR for any government. Until CAMERA gets this straight, self-respecting journalists will regard an occasional snarl from the watchdog as proof that they’re doing their job.

    Gershom Gorenberg is a Jerusalem-based journalist and the author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977.

  119. xisnotx

    5/1/2009 at 5:05 pm

    newsocietyjour...

    . While Goldberg informed Jordanian King Hussein that the U.S. would help Jordan regain its territory with only minor modifications, Caradon personally assured Riad that the text endorsed a return of all the territory. When Riad asked Caradon if the text meant withdrawal from only some of the territory, Caradon answered, “Of course not. The text means all and not some of the territories.”[31]

    Immediately following the vote, Soviet representative Vasily Kuznetsov articulated the Soviet interpretation of 242: “We understand the decision taken to mean the withdrawal of Israel forces from all, and we repeat, all territories belonging to Arab States and seized by Israel following its attack on those States on 5 June 1967.”[27] Moments after collaborating with Goldberg to pass the resolution, Kuznetsov dismissed Goldberg’s border-adjustment logic, arguing that the clause concerning the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition trumped any consideration for secure boundaries. He argued that the security needs of Israel, “cannot serve as a pretext for the maintenance of Israel forces on any part of the Arab territories seized by them as a result of war.”[28]

  120. themiddle

    5/1/2009 at 5:48 pm

    So Fisk believes that Caradon’s own statements about the intentions of the Resolution are false? The clarity of the wording was clear to all. Tough luck then if it suited the purposes of certain governments to disclaim the version which they accepted by a vote. English is the language in which laws are written at the UN.

    None of what Gorenberg writes addresses what 242 states. I don’t blame him for being angry at CAMERA but that doesn’t change that 242 is what it is. Yes, there have been dissenting opinions, and Carter tried to change the status of the territories and has led the way for other American presidents – as I noted in my post – but that doesn’t change 242 either. One could argue about the legality of the settlements but not about the issue of borders. That remains for negotiations and that is clearly what 242 stipulates.

    As for your last comment, xisnotx, all you had to do was read two paragaraphs down:

    Following the passage of Resolution 242, various senior American and British officials reiterated the importance of withdrawal based on secure boundaries. On Sept. 10, 1968, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson affirmed, “It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967, will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized boundaries.”[33] Moreover, a decade later, Caradon, the primary author of the text, emphasized:

    We didn’t say there should be a withdrawal to the ’67 line; we did not put the ‘the’ in, we did not say all the territories, deliberately. . . . We all knew—that the boundaries of ’67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier. . . . We did not say that the ’67 boundaries must be forever.[34]

  121. themiddle

    5/1/2009 at 6:03 pm

    So perhaps what is “commonly held,” Xisnotx, isn’t so clear cut? I mean, you’re relying on Fisk for your claims? You bring me two reporters, I brought you diplomats who were involved in authoring 242.

    I’d say that your comments about international law should be seen as what typifies many of the supporters of the Palestinians these days: an obfuscation of legal facts in order to establish new ones. Phrases like “illegal occupation” and “violations of international law” are thrown about like confetti, but they are often inaccurate. Oh, I forgot: “war crimes.” There’s a good one.

    At the very least, you have to agree that what you believe to be the law on this topic can be debated in good faith and your understanding may be false.

    My interpretation is that Israel has the right to negotiate the final borders and is not obligated to give – not return, give – the Palestinians all of the West Bank or Gaza. The deals they have offered at Camp David, at Taba and apparently in the last months of the Olmert administration, where the Palestinians were offered 100% of Gaza and 97-98% of Judea and Samaria with additional land inside Israel on a 1:1 exchange ratio were quite generous and well within the requirements of 242. Of course, the Palestinians refused. Again. And blamed Israel for inflexibility.

    I’m still trying to check the source, but I actually read in a JPost op-ed that Erakat admitted to these latest offers and acknowledged that they were rejected because the Palestinians refused to accept any language that included the Temple Mount as part of Jewish history.

    So why bother? To impress Obama? The Israelis are better off moving their settlers west of the Fence, keeping the IDF inside the West Bank as long as needed or outside but with an aggressive targeted killing and response-to-attacks protocol in place. Maybe another generation in refugee camps will pass but at least Israel will grow and thrive in the meantime. It really is up to the Palestinians. Maybe it’s also up to their supporters, Xisnotx, to help them understand that they need to compromise?

  122. xisnotx

    5/2/2009 at 3:21 pm

    “So perhaps what is “commonly held,” Xisnotx, isn’t so clear cut? ”

    we’re talking about somewhat different but related things, the border & 242, & settlements. If you really want to see more on the legality of settlements, I can post when I have a moment.

    I don’t think a unilateral move east of the fence will bring israel a security.

  123. LB

    5/2/2009 at 4:42 pm

    “I don’t think a unilateral move east of the fence will bring israel a security.”

    Nor will any other kind of withdrawal that can be carried out today.

  124. Victor

    5/3/2009 at 2:22 am

    Amen, LB. TM, you are dreaming if you think a withdrawal will bring anything but violence. Settling the land, all of the land, is the only option to end violence. The day a Palestinian wakes up with a Jewish village to his right, left, up and down he will realize that Palestine is dead and the Jews are here to stay.

    But the demographics, you say? For all you demographic warriors, instead of whining, find a guy/girl to marry and let’s get busy under the covers. It seems to work for the Arabs, doesn’t it.

  125. xisnotx

    5/3/2009 at 3:22 am

    this may interest you, tm:

    Growing Majority of Americans Oppose Israel Building Settlements
    worldpublicopi...

  126. Victor

    5/3/2009 at 2:13 pm

    All that poll proves is that a thirty year drumbeat against Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria, endorsed by successive Israeli governments and enshrined in highly publicized speeches, agreements, and constituting the narrow band of “acceptable American policy” has taken root.

    The poll also demonstrates that a reasoned campaign to educate the public on the absolute necessity of Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria, particularly that which is focused on Jewish claims to the land, is likely to be productive in influencing public opinion.

    The one thing we absolutely need to STOP doing is teaching goyem that Israel was created because of the Holocaust!

  127. themiddle

    5/3/2009 at 5:34 pm

    Xisnotx, you’re not going to convince me about the settlements and their legal status. You and I have been around the block and you know that I’m going to present you with views just like Rostow’s. If you would like to post in order to educate readers about your POV, that’s fine. Israel does not apply the Geneva Conventions to the Territories from a legal angle and I stick to their judiciary’s opinions over Jimmy Carter’s or his State Department’s.

    This post is about removing the settlements east of the Fence and removing that population, save for those who wish to live under Palestinians rule, west of the Fence. Among other reasons, I mention public opinion. The US is the newest battleground in that fight and I believe the Palestinians have a good chance at winning US public opinion. The settlements are hard to defend against the contrast of the constant depiction of Palestinian suffering (real and pretend) under a military regime. In fact, even the process of fighting over the settlements hurts Israel because it undermines support it would otherwise get.

    As Victor points out, by the way, polls prove little unless they are taken in large batches over lengthy periods. Right now everybody is still in the “Gaza war crimes” frame of mind. Over time information that disputes this perception will come out and change the public response. The bigger problem is that the settlements are perceived as the obstacle to peace.

    And Xisnotx, you haven’t responded to this yet:

    The deals they have offered at Camp David, at Taba and apparently in the last months of the Olmert administration, where the Palestinians were offered 100% of Gaza and 97-98% of Judea and Samaria with additional land inside Israel on a 1:1 exchange ratio were quite generous and well within the requirements of 242. Of course, the Palestinians refused. Again. And blamed Israel for inflexibility.
    I’m still trying to check the source, but I actually read in a JPost op-ed that Erakat admitted to these latest offers and acknowledged that they were rejected because the Palestinians refused to accept any language that included the Temple Mount as part of Jewish history.
    So why bother? To impress Obama? The Israelis are better off moving their settlers west of the Fence, keeping the IDF inside the West Bank as long as needed or outside but with an aggressive targeted killing and response-to-attacks protocol in place. Maybe another generation in refugee camps will pass but at least Israel will grow and thrive in the meantime. It really is up to the Palestinians. Maybe it’s also up to their supporters, Xisnotx, to help them understand that they need to compromise?

    At what point do YOU say, “Wait, maybe the Palestinians aren’t seeking peace or another state?” And at what point do YOU say, “Wait, why do I support a people that seek to discredit my religious, cultural and historical connection to this land in order to further their own goals?”

  128. Galit Sonah Menuvalim

    5/7/2009 at 4:23 am

    Dear Mr/Mrs Middle,

    Go ahead hide behind the apron of Mr Oren,I don’t care.
    You are urging Israel to risk the lives of its citizens because you trust Mr. Oren. I on the other hand have no reason to place my life in your hands. Any country in the world that is only 10 miles wide as you and the brilliant Mr. Oren recomend is in mortal danger.

    You are being disingenuous to your readers when you say that the number of draft evaders is growing. The REAL relevant number is the number of kids who volunteer for combat units and special forces. The army is having trouble placing these kids in their desired units for lack of space. Leftists such as yourself exist in every society, the rest of us must bite our lips and try to survive the damage that you subject us to.

    I can borrow from your brilliant logic and now claim that because of the huge number of volunteers in the elite units, Israel should increase the number of pioneers living in the liberated territories.

    While I pray for you and hope that you will survive your infection of left wing poison, I will never trust you to decide anything regarding my personal and or security.

  129. josh

    5/17/2009 at 12:54 pm

    Flawed theory. I won’t bother to comment, what is the point of rehashing everything we’ve already discussed about in the past 5 (?) years?

    Auschwitz borders do not matter to someone living so far away.

  130. themiddle

    5/17/2009 at 2:55 pm

    Nothing to discuss. Your problem is that you have to answer the question: what happens with the Palestinians if you want to keep Israel a Jewish democracy?

    That’s not about Auschwitz borders.

  131. xisnotx

    5/18/2009 at 6:54 am

    maybe the title of this post is a misnomer. The headlines today make it sound like Bibi wants to stay in the WB. maybe he wants to leave a certain impression on his first meeting w/obama:

    haaretz.com/ha...
    Last update – 14:41 18/05/2009

    Israel begins new settlement, despite U.S. opposition

    By Haaretz Service

    Tags: West Bank Settlements

    Israel has has moved ahead with a plan to construct a new settlement in the northern West Bank for the first time in 26 years, pursuing a project the United States has already condemned as an obstacle to peace efforts.

    The move comes on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, despite Western calls for Israel to halt its settlement activity.

    Tenders have been issued for 20 housing units in the new Maskiot settlement and contractors have arrived on site to begin foundational work.

    The initiative began three years ago, under the auspices of then-defense minister Amir Peretz, who promised to transform a former army outpost into a permanent settlement for evacuees from the Gaza Strip. The move was then frozen due to American insistence.

  132. themiddle

    5/18/2009 at 9:06 am

    The title of this post is what I believe should happen. It’s also what Netanyahu’s ambassador to the US believes should happen.

    The timing of this story is extremely strange. If it stems from the Israeli administration, then it’s a defiant and petulant challenge to Obama. If it originates with another source, then it’s either meant to back Netanyahu into a corner or to embarrass him and force his hand with Obama.

    “David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley regional council that oversees Maskiot, confirmed to Reuters he had issued the tender last week for contractors to launch infrastructure work.

    It could be some settlers wanted to force him to be true to what he’s been saying in opposition all these years.

  133. xisnotx

    5/18/2009 at 9:50 am

    good point, tm.

  134. xisnotx

    5/18/2009 at 4:03 pm

    am i the only person who finds this kind of bizarre? newyork.craigs...

  135. LB

    5/18/2009 at 4:08 pm

    no you’re not, it is pretty bizarre.

    and “Knowledge of American and Middle Eastern politics desirable.” – only desirable?

  136. themiddle

    5/18/2009 at 4:46 pm

    When they’re done advertising the position, I wonder if they would sell my old bike on there.

  137. Pingback: Promised Land » Blog Archive » Timing is everything - Netanyahu returns from Washington

  138. Galit Sonah Menuvalim

    5/24/2009 at 5:31 am

    Former chief of staff Boogie Yaalon in his book claims that it was clear to all that Sharon was showing signs of senility prior to his treacherous violations of the Human Rights of the Jewish residents of the Liberated Territories.
    In return for our generosity (stupidity) the Hama opened fire on us.

    Capitulation to leftist liberal and extremist Islamic terror brings us nothing but death.

  139. ck

    5/24/2009 at 9:23 am

    Galit Sonah Menuvalim: I don’t agree with much of what yopu say but damn, ani met al shmech!

  140. Galit Sonah Menuvalim

    5/27/2009 at 10:44 pm

    To OK,

    Bless you holy child.
    May you merit to see the true and holy light in your lifetime.

    Galit

  141. Pingback: Jewlicious » A Zionist Responds

  142. Noor

    9/26/2009 at 10:30 am

    You know, after years of thinking about this from a non-legalistic and technical point of view, a few things remain vexing to me about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a few things are obvious, so I’m going to ramble on in a forum that seems open to discussion.

    - Why can’t there be a single state of jews + Arabs? Had this been considered earlier, there would be less of an issue of the Arab demographic swallowing up Israel. One of the most important reasons for the large number of Palestinians (besides the generally high birth rate in Arab countries) is that Palestinians are not allowed to be anything other than Palestinians in the Middle East, save maybe Jordan. All the Arab states will gladly keep their refugee status, resulting in 3rd generation “Palestinians” who have never set foot in Palestine.

    - Why is it so important to have a state that is defined racially and religiously, and simultaneously try to have some semblance of secularism? If Israel was not a “Jewish” state, and more like a Nation based on better democratic principles than its Arab neighbors, maybe somethign like the US (which by the way is a far better democracy than Western Europe, don’t tell that to any Europeans, they will not believe it on principle). Nation state, especially one based on DNA is passe. Trust me, Israel and Palestine want what the rest of the developed world is slowly realizing is dissapearing: a definition of a “nation”. Reality is, Jews and Arabs have a lot more in common than the rest of the lot (including DNA). And most developed economies are in need of immigrants, yes, the people that will make you lose your cultural definition as a nation. Therefore, the only ones that will survive are ones that are considering more human principles (global) rather than local. Everyone else is fragmenting into subgroups. For instance, Israel is far more diverse (even if still very jewish) than it was even 40 years ago. Really, its difficult to have a nation where everyone’s wishes are met within a very specific framework, like religious/racial affiliation. Best example, look at India, Hindu nationalism failed quite miserably, not simply because there were others besides Hindus, but because Hindus themselves did not want that definition. Now, if there was such a thing as an Arab democracy, especially in the core Middle-East, one that wasn’t based on Race or religion, Arab states would also lose their demographic nature. What Israel and Arab states should worry about more is the inevitable and creepy invasion of others, namely Asians (East and South) and Latin Americans. What Asians and Latinos have realized is that the best way to carry out an invasion is not militarily.

    If you consider demographics, perhaps it is important to have principles that are time-tested, and one of them is not race.

    I also believe that Jewish survival (I’m not a Jew) was more ensured by the diasporic nature of the tribes than a single state. Having said that, I think its a little too late to argue about who has more right to the Jewish land. Both sides use arguments that are rather stupid, essential idea being: who was there first. Well, if things should really be based on that, there’s a whole lot of the world that needs reorganization.

    I dont think anyone should actively try to change the demographics of a country/nation, and that it should happen naturally. People will move where their culture and survial is best ensured. If Arabs would want to move to Israel, it isnt simply to claim a holy land (that’s policy makers), a family at the end of the day thinks about certain important basics like food and shelter. Arab migration towards Israel will only be proof that the rest of the Arab world is a miserably failure.

    Similarly, I think the best insurance for the survival of Jews in the Middle-East is democracy in the Middle East, if it were up to me, I’d start forcing Arab states to allow more foreign NGO’s who could start planting seeds of democracy. In fact, democracy is the best system for survival of any minority group, look at how successful US is, and look at who founded the US, people who were under persecution. And in the long run, you could have a Middle East that is far closer to historical truth, one that had mixed populations of different religions including Jews interdispersed contributing actively to the culture and times (a basic reading of Islamic history will tell anyone that Jews played some important roles, and vice versa). I would love to see a Middle East that is proud of its historical legacy, one that gave birth to quite many monotheistic faiths. And I am sad to see other countries in the Middle East getting stripped of its Jewish populations, especially because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is sadly a real loss for Jewish history as well, which extends far greater than the geographic location of Israel.

    ok, i should stop rambling :)

    (Non-Jew, Non-Arab, Pantheist)

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