NIF, Naomi Chazan and international law

I have published many articles highly critical of Naomi Chazan, the President of the NIF. Two of them are here and here. The Forward recently published an article by her that my friend Salomon Benzimra took exception to. Benzimra is the author of the best seller The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel. The Forward, not wishing to confuse its readers with the facts, refused to publish his rebuttal. Here it is. Ted Belman

By Salomon Benzimra

Naomi Chazan was deputy speaker of the Knesset and the dean of the School of Government and Society at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. Given her credentials, one would have thought that she would have a good grasp of politics and law. But in a recent article published in The Forward, she stated that “Israel’s settlement enterprise…violate[s] international law” because “colonizing occupied land is illegal [based on] the Geneva Conventions,” notwithstanding the contrary opinion expressed in “the contortions of a few right-wing legal scholars.”

Well, I am no legal scholar but I’d rather be on the side of those right-wing “contortionists” than on Ms. Chazan’s, whose sympathy for the “Palestinian cause” – lamely cloaked in “human rights” – is quicker than her comprehension.  Here are a few legal scholars, including eminent ones, whom Ms. Chazan dismisses offhand, and whose so-called “contortions” strongly confirm the legality of the “settlements” and support the legitimate rights of Israel in Judea and Samaria:

  • Stephen M. Schwebel, Professor of International Law at the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University (Washington), former Deputy Legal Advisor of the U.S. State Department and President of the International Court of Justice from 1997 to 2000: “Where the prior holder of territory [Jordan] had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has, against that prior holder, better title.”

  • Eugene W. Rostow, Former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and Distinguished Fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace: “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 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…”
  • Julius Stone, one of the 20th century leading authorities on the Law of Nations, Doctor of Juridical Science from Harvard and Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at universities in Australia and California: “The terms of Article 49(6) [of the Fourth Geneva Convention] however they are interpreted, are submitted to be totally irrelevant. To render them relevant, we would have to say that the effect of Article 49(6) is to impose an obligation on the state of Israel to ensure (by force if necessary) that these areas, despite their millennial association with Jewish life, shall be forever ‘judenrein’.”
  • David Matas, world-renowned human rights lawyer and honorary counsel to B’nai Brith Canada: “For there to be an occupation at international law, there has to be an occupying and occupied power both of which are members of the community of nations. The only conceivable occupied power for the West Bank is Jordan. Yet Jordan has renounced all claims over the West Bank.”

  • David M. Phillips, Professor at Northeastern University School of Law: Indeed, the analysis underlying the conclusion that the settlements violate international law depends entirely on an acceptance of the Palestinian narrative that the West Bank is “Arab” land. Followed to its logical conclusion – as some have done – this narrative precludes the legitimacy of Israel itself…The ultimate end of the illicit effort to use international law to delegitimize the settlements is clear – it is the same argument used by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state entirely.”

  • Jeffrey S. Helmreich, author and writer for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: “The settlements are not located in ‘occupied territory.’ The last binding international legal instrument which divided the territory in the region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the context of the British Mandate. These rights under the British Mandate were preserved by the successor organization to the League of Nations, the United Nations, under Article 80 of the UN Charter.”

And yet, Ms. Chazan disingenuously refers to “international law” time and time again in her article – eight times, no less! – to accuse Israel of its “45 years of occupation” which, she says, brought “international obloquy” to the Jewish State and is turning Israel into an “international pariah.”  I heard similar accusations at a presentation she gave at the Darchei Noam Synagogue of Toronto on May 9, 2010, where she praised the New Israel Fund (NIF, which she presides) for the support it gave to the infamous Goldstone Commission.  In response to a question from the audience she said, flatly: “I don’t call it ‘Judea and Samaria’; I call it the West Bank.”  That says it all.  Perhaps unwittingly, she bears some responsibility for the “international obloquy” that Israel is facing, by disfiguring the truth in such a grotesque way.


And she is not alone.  Many Israelis who share her “naive” mindset (to put it mildly) are eagerly quoted by the most vociferous anti-Zionists.  Ilan Pappé is the poster boy of “Israel Apartheid Week.”  Neve Gordon discredited his university by supporting the Israel boycott campaign. Gilad Atzmon and Avi Shlaim were quoted approvingly by Turkish PM Erdogan at the Davos Economic Forum in 2009, when he blasted Shimon Peres and the State of Israel before abruptly leaving the conference (video at min. 2:30).  These Jews and others made a career of slandering Israel and distorting the truth, as Ms. Chazan does when she claims that there are a “dwindling number of supporters of Israel’s settlement enterprise.”  That statement flies in the face of a recent poll conducted by the Ariel University Center, which showed that 64% of Israelis support continued settlement activity in Judea & Samaria. Some dwindling number!


Factual evidence is the last concern of Israel’s detractors.  To peddle their treacherous agenda, they must be sheltered from facts, or turn them upside down, or invent fake ones out of thin air. But Israelis and Diaspora Jews are increasingly aware of their machinations.  And this is what exasperates the post/anti-Zionists who feel more and more left in the dust with the colossal failure of their ill-conceived schemes.

As Cicero was worrying, over two thousand years ago, about the survival of the Roman Republic when it was internally threatened by treacherous insiders, we might ask: For how long will the Jewish anti-Israel crowd be abusing our patience? And for how long will their unbridled madness mock and slander the Jewish State?

June 30, 2012 | 6 Comments »

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  1. Salomon Benzimra, despite his modesty, is in fact a legal scholar but without the benefit of legal training. A primary distinction between science and non-science is that science structures knowledge in a cumulative fashion meaning that if one doesn’t have first year physics or chemistry, one cannot comprehend second or third year chemistry or physics classes because the foundational knowledge and operational skills required for the upper level courses are absent. Not so with social sciences and law where knowledge accumulation is typically an “horizontal” rather than “vertical” process. Prerequisites, except in special circumstances, are mainly administrative. Students regularly have prerequisites waived without adverse outcomes on their grades. One can obtain a Master’s degree in Law (an LL.M. reflecting specific legal scholarship at many universities) without having a bachelor’s degree in law (an LL. B.)

    What Mr. Benzimra has done in this article (as well as in his impressive preexisting corpus of commentary on the legality of Israel’s right to Judea and Samaria) is to provide the factual history and context to these rights under international law beginning with the League of Nations, British Mandate, San Remo Conference, United Nations Charter and other relevant aspects of international law. The desire of the Muslim world to contort and obfuscate these realities is clear and readily understandable. More puzzling is the partnership with the Islamofascists evidenced by the Israeli and Diaspora based left-wing extremists. This short-sighted and self-defeating stance should be the focus of considerable psychological inquiry.

    I believe that a number of information-processing characteristics are common to right and left wing extremists. The principle feature of the extremist “mind” is an inability to accommodate contrary information. A number of techniques and mechanisms are utilized to avoid dealing with contrary information. Where possible,contrary information is blocked or censored before it becomes available to the public, completely eschewing the need to consider and address it. We see this routinely in Western media from Reuters to BBC to CNN to CBC, CTV and the Toronto Star in Canada. It is especially sad and alarming to see the Jewish Forward succumb to whatever pressure was put on it by the left to block printing the realistic rebuttal to Ms. Chazan’s rant.

    Political Correctness (PC) is a major “tool” used to keep factual but contrary information from public consciousness. This is no less a threat to a free press and free society than government censorship. For example, IN Canad, the left could not block a more right-center television network (SUN TV)from obtaining a broadcasting license. Initially SUN TV was located at Channel 16 on standard cable outlets. When channel surfers began listening to the novel and challenging aspect of the SUN reportage, SUN TV was unceremoniously relocated to Channel 142 on Rogers Cable and similar “upper regions” of other cable providers “immunizing” channel surfers from the anti-left and anti-Islamofascist information prevalent on SUN. Further, unless one has the upgraded package, the upper channel regions (e.g., Channel 142) are entirely absent from cable access.

    Should this “Stage 1” information blocking strategy fail, and the contrary evidence is available to the public, the extremist mind invokes the “ad hominem” strategy of knocking, denigrating and ridiculing the messengers. Ms. Chazan employs this “Stage 2” strategy to deal with the realities of international law by attacking the messengers. In this way, her extremist mind is shielded form having to actually consider the counter-arguments to her prejudiced opinion. Indeed, if one is intellectually honest and does not have a factual or logical basis with which to refute the contrary position, one would be compelled to actually change her position. This is entirely terrifying to the extremist necessitating invocation of the ad hominem argument.

    It is high time that people in the free world became aware of these techniques, recognize when they occur and take steps to counteract their insidious effects and influences on Western society.

    The author has a Ph. D. in Psychlogy and is a faculty member at a local university.

  2. Naomi Chazan HAD been a professor of African studies before her plunge into politics. My personal acquaintance with her is less academic: Twice we got our hair cut together. She was, as always, obnoxious, insulting and condescending. The second time, the hair dresser quietly finished his work, and asked her not to come back.

  3. I wonder what would happen if those unJews, the traitors are ignored by all of us and their hateful machinations not re send and commented upon.
    Slammed w/o entering their articles would be fine.
    If we re print and resend their screed we act to their benefit.
    Just a thought