The Non Sequitur of Palestinian Land

Tell me again how 450,000 Jews living in Judea/Samaria (West Bank) are obstacles to peace, but 1.6 million Muslim Arabs living in Israel are not.

* Non sequitur: a fallacy in which a conclusion does not follow logically from what preceded it.

* West Bank: the name given to the area west of the Jordan River while under the illegal control of Trans-Jordan. In 1988, Jordan relinquished all its rights to this area, and today the term is used solely as a pejorative to deny the biblical and historic connection of the Jews to the lands where our patriarchs and matriarchs lived, our prophets prophesied and our kings governed.

There are two ways to look at the legality of Israel’s ownership of Judea/Samaria. If you’re a Jew and have read the Torah, the land we’re discussing was given to the Israelites (a.k.a. Jews) in a covenant with the Creator of the Universe (a.k.a. G-d). It is the land Moses looked out over as G-d commanded him to ascend Mount Nebo “and behold the Land of Canaan that I give to the Children of Israel as an inheritance…” (Deut. 32:49) With G-d’s blessings, the land Joshua will conquer – the land of milk and honey.

Orthodox Jews, most non-Orthodox rabbis, evangelical Christians, et al. have heard of Rashi, the wine-making Torah commentator from France who lived 900 years ago, and consider his Torah commentaries insightful. At issue is Rashi’s first commentary in which he explains that a time will come when the nations of the world will contest our rights to the Land of Israel, accusing us of stealing their land. Sound familiar. Rashi explains that the reason G-d tells the story of creation first is to establish that the entire world belongs to G-d. The creation story clarifies that G-d fashioned the world and that He can give the land to whomever He wants. We see very clearly, through the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, that the Land of Israel was promised as the exclusive inheritance for the nation of Israel. This covenant was made over 3,300 years ago; and today over half the world reads the Old Testament (a.k.a. Torah). Most rabbis, even those of non-Orthodox denominations, have heard of this covenantal promise from our Torah. It’s one way of looking at the issue, and it might even be called the Jewish way.

But if you don’t buy the G-d argument and Rashi’s commentary, instead choosing to go the secular route, then you might consider the representatives of individual sovereign countries who decided just 96 years ago who this specific piece of land should belong to. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the Allied forces gained control of 2.2 million square miles of land formerly governed by Turkey. It was agreed after the war that the land would be partitioned by the newly formed League of Nations. The League convened a conference in San Remo, Italy to determine who would get what. On April 25, 1920, the San Remo Resolution was passed, whereby the “High Contracting Parties” (Britain, France, Italy and Japan) agreed to entrust the administration of Palestine to a Mandatory that would be responsible implementing the Balfour Declaration, approved by the British government on November 8, 1917.

The resolution was subsequently adopted by the other Allied powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine [but specifically omitting the issue of political rights], or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country [also known as the Sir Edwin Montagu British-Jewish concern].” The resolution passed unanimously, with 98 percent of the partitioned land being given to various Arab tribal leaders and 2 percent for the Palestine Mandate to be administered by Great Britain. Later, 78 percent of the Mandate was sliced off to create Trans-Jordan, leaving only one half of one percent for the Jewish homeland – from the river to the sea.

After supporting the resolution at San Remo, the U.S. Congress decided to pass its own resolution so on June 30, 1922, both Houses of Congress unanimously endorsed the Mandate for Palestine, confirming the irrevocable right of Jews to settle anywhere in the area of Palestine—between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The resolution reads as follows:

Palestine of to-day [1922]…was peopled by the Jews from the dawn of history until the Roman era. It is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. They were driven from it by force by the relentless Roman military machine and for centuries prevented from returning. At different periods various alien people succeeded them, but the Jewish race had left an indelible impress upon the land. To-day it is a Jewish country. Every name, every landmark, every monument, and every trace of whatever civilization remaining there is still Jewish. And it has ever since remained a hope, a longing, as expressed in their prayers for these nearly 2,000 years. No other people has ever claimed Palestine as their national home. No other people has ever shown an aptitude or indicated a genuine desire to make it their homeland. … A perusal of Jewish history, a reading of Josephus, will convince the most skeptical that the grandest fight that was ever put up against an enemy was put up by the Jew. He never thought of leaving Palestine. … I am told that 90 per cent of the Jews today are praying for the return of the Jewish people to its own home. The best minds among them believe in the necessity of reestablishing the Jewish land. To my mind there is something prophetic in the fact that during the ages no other nation has taken over Palestine and held it in the sense of a homeland; and there is something providential in the fact that for 1,800 years it has remained in desolation as if waiting for the return of its people. — U.S. Congressional Record 9801 (1922)

It was President Woodrow Wilson who declared on March 3, 1919, “I am persuaded that the Allied nations, with the fullest concurrence of our own government and people, are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth.” On September 21, 1922, it was President Warren Harding who signed the Lodge-Fish joint resolution of approval to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. And on March 2, 1925, it was President Calvin Coolidge who signed the Convention between the U.S. and Great Britain. Thus, the U.S. government recognized and confirmed the irrevocable right of the Jewish people to settle in the area of Palestine – anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, as is spelled out in the Mandate document. (Eli Hertz, “Myths and Facts,” April 20, 2009)

Any Arab entity’s alleged rights were in fact adjudicated and rejected in 1920 by the Supreme Council of the San Remo Conference. By international binding treaty, the Council granted the land of Palestine solely to the Jewish people as did the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence of July,1915.

The Resolution remains irrevocable and legally binding under international law to this day no matter how often or loudly the Arabs, European Union, or various American administrations try to misrepresent the fact. But in truth, it’s not really about international law, nor even the newly minted mythological Palestinian Arabs a.k.a. Palestinians. It is a continuation of the 70-year war between the Jewish State and the U.S. Department of State. From the days of George C. Marshall, who fought stridently against recognition of the State of Israel, until today’s John Kerry who seems obsessed with a peace process that was dead on arrival, nothing has changed in the relentless attempt to cut the Jewish State down to size. Their assertion of illegality of the land defies international law and is only another head fake for the gullible and ill-informed. The law has never been abrogated or amended, and today, 70 years later, the legal concept of estoppel has been firmly established.

The U.S. demanded Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and earlier from the Sinai, and tragically the various governments of Israel complied. While I was in Israel several months before the disengagement, an Arab cab driver told me he couldn’t believe Israel was handing Gaza over to Hamas. “Are Israelis suicidal?!” he shrieked. If an Arab cab driver knew what the outcome of the disengagement would be, how did the Middle East “experts” at the State Department not know? Or did they?

Since the beginnings of Oslo 24 years ago, the phony peace negotiations have never been anything other than a charade. The PLO covenant remains in effect no matter how many times Dennis Ross sidesteps the truth. While presidents are elected every four years, the State Department has been filled with “lifers” and “successor lifers” who have perpetuated the fallacy of a distinct Palestinian-Arab people. One wonders, with twenty-two Arab countries already in existence, what is the need for a twenty-third? If you want a Palestinian country, take Jordan, where over 75 percent of the population is so-called Palestinian. Those who accuse Israel of Apartheid simply display their ignorance. Apartheid was an official policy of racial segregation in South Africa where the 8% white minority subjugated the black majority which was 85 percent of the population. Jewish Israel has a majority of 68 percent Jews from the river to the sea. That is called majority rule, a.k.a. democracy.

At this most perilous time for the U.S.-Israel relationship, with Obama about to leave office and prior to the swearing-in of the new president, the obvious question remains: Why is the U.S. obsessed with creating a twenty-third Arab state that will ultimately be another Third World terrorist welfare state living off the payroll of the American taxpayer? What’s in it for America, and why is the U.S. government flouting international as well as American law? At this point, many of the Sunni oil-producing countries have relations with both Israel and the U.S. and they themselves frankly don’t have much interest in dealing with the phony Palestinian “red herring” they used to manipulate the price of their only commodity– oil. They hope to keep their “fair share” of the oil markets to maintain their kingdoms and their opulent lifestyles. Remember when the Palestinians sided with Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War, the “love” was lost between the oil-producing Arab states and Arafat’s supporters of Saddam.

Recently Prime Minister Netanyahu caused a bit of a stir by reaffirming that the U.S. demand that Israel “ethnically cleanse” Judea/Samaria (a.k.a. West Bank) would not happen. He has reiterated this since he was first elected prime minister 20 years ago, and today it’s at the point where even he now believes it. Today there are over 450,000 Jews living in Judea/Samaria among 1.5 million Muslim Arabs. Even the thought of it should be considered obscene. If it were blacks being moved out of white neighborhoods, I imagine our current administration would look at it differently. Don’t these Jews have the same civil rights as a Jew in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago or New York when it comes to where they live? Or is supporting anti-Semitic bigotry where the U.S. and the world are headed … to deny Jews the right to live in their historic homeland?

Unfortunately, Ariel Sharon succumbed to the pressures of U.S. demands. His belief that the U.S. government would be truly bound by a signed letter agreement with then-president George W. Bush led to the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from Gush Katif/Gaza. Israel and most Jews know how that worked out, three major conflicts later with plenty of dead Arabs and Jews along the way. International law is on Israel’s side. A Biblical covenant over 3,300 years old is on Israel’s side. The internationally recognized legal concept of estoppel is on Israel’s side. And it should be obvious even to the State Department’s “expert” Jew-boys Dennis Ross, Aaron Millers and Daniel Kurtzers of the world that “gullible, stupid and suicidal” won’t be attainable this time.

Shabbat Shalom, 10/28/2016

Jack “Yehoshua” Berger

* * Back issues are archived at The Times of Israel.com

About the Author
Educated as an architect with a Masters in Architectural History, Jack Yehoshua Berger became a practicing architect and real estate developer. In his late 30's he met a Rabbi who turned him on to the miracle of Israel and he began learning how the amazing country, against all odds, came to be the miracle of the modern world.
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