Those Gun-toting Settlers and the Occupied Territories

I’ve been out on the hilltops, done the protests, skirted the border and riot police, put facts on the ground, represented the settler campaign to various interest groups and to the media, and (involuntarily) had my house showcased on Al Jazeera, (inaccurately) portrayed as an “Arab home stolen by a settler.”

But looking at me, you wouldn’t know I’m a, gosh….”settler.” I do not cover my hair or wear long skirts. Nor do I pack a pistol. I’ve been seen on a stage singing heavy metal, wear clothes that are way too tight and way too short. Just recently got over my Goth phase and can down several shots of scotch with the best of them – although the other night discovered my drink of choice is Emerald Reisling white wine. Religious? If you define it as to whether I believe in God – fine then, I’m religious. I have a whole slew of friends that stem from the left as well as from the right and firmly attest that gay men make the best kind of friends. Stick me on a street in Tel-Aviv and I’d fit right in.

So much for assumptions about settlers. Oh, and one more thing – I’m not from Brooklyn.

So let’s talk facts and not perceptions. It doesn’t matter how you perceive God, or whether you perceive God at all. Nor is it relevant if you agree or disagree with the biblical take on the matter – that God promised the Land of Israel to the offspring of Abraham. Let’s just get down to the nitty-gritty and put to rest the ill-conceived label of “occupied territories.” Let’s talk about international law.

I would simply like to present the facts to people who are otherwise educated but whose perceptions fall grossly short when it comes to Judea, Samaria and Gaza and those darn bearded, head covered gun-toting settlers who just don’t want to give up their “occupied” land.

To illegally occupy territory by definition means that it legally belonged to someone else. Judea, Samaria and Gaza did not. Yet that doesn’t stop the wholesale abuse of the accusation that Israel is breaking International law by settling these areas.

What is irrevocable, legally binding and valid to this day is the San Remo Resolution of 1920 which recognized the exclusive national Jewish rights to the Land of Israel under international law, on the strength of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the territory previously known as Palestine.

The League of Nations, unanimously declared on July 24, 1922: “Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

The San Remo Conference of 1920 has been forgotten or ignored by the community of nations, and the legally binding rights it conferred upon the Jewish people have been unlawfully dismissed, to the point where the Orwellian cry of “breakers of International law” is meted out non-stop toward Israel. (And, unfortunately, these simple historical facts concerning our legal and binding rights to our land are not taught to our youth in the school system here). Ignorance allows the perpetuation of falsehoods.

The outcome of the declaration led to the “Mandate for Palestine,” an historical League of Nations document that laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Mention must likewise be made that the political right to self-determination for Arabs was guaranteed by the same League of Nations in four other mandates – in Lebanon and Syria (The French Mandate), Iraq, and later Trans-Jordan (The British Mandate).

Jews are in the Land of Israel, which according to international law, includes Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as a matter of legal right. The Holocaust, occurring 20 years later, clearly had nothing to do with the decision. Nor is Israel a “foreign occupier” without territorial rights. Her rights were ratified by international bodies that were the source of international legitimacy. The territory conquered in 1967 in a defensive war, was not conquered from an internationally recognized sovereign state, and therefore,

Israel is as much of a foreign occupier as I am a gun-toting religious fanatic settler.

About the Author
Author of THE GILBOA IRIS (Gefen Publishing House) and SETTLING FOR MORE: FROM JERSEY TO JUDEA (Urim Publications).