Not only must we be really honest, we must be realistic.

By Ted Belman

Rabbi Pesach Lerner is organizing various Orthodox organizations in the US into a Coordinating Council on Jerusalem (CCJ). Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David Judea in Los Angeles found it necessary to distance himself from this effort and made a plea to them in the LA Jewish Journal to “Consider a divided Jerusalem”. Here is my response.

Let’s be honest and realistic

Rabbi Kanefsky, in abandoning an undivided Jerusalem pleads that we be honest. This implies a respect for the facts which he suggests do not support our claims. On the contrary, the facts fully support that Israel and the Jews have the best legal claim to Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem and that the occupation and settlements are legal.

While “there were voices in the inner circle of the Israeli government in 1967-1968 who warned that settling civilians in conquered territories was probably illegal under international law” according to the Rabbi, there were and are, other voices that argued otherwise.

Professor Talia Einhorn, Adjunct Professor of Law, Tel Aviv University, in The Status of Palestine/Land of Israel and Its Settlement Under Public International Law published by NATIV Online in 1993, advises,

    “In 1967, following the Six Day War, the territories of Yesha, which had been originally designated for the Jewish national home according to the Mandate document, returned to Israeli rule. Leading international law scholars opined that Israel was in lawful control of Yesha, that no other state could show better title than Israel to Yesha’s territory, and that this territory was not “occupied” in the sense of the Geneva Convention, since those rules are designed to assure the reversion of the former legitimate sovereign which, in this case, does not exist. Israel was therefore entitled to declare that it has exercised its sovereign powers over Yesha.”

One of the leading international law scholars she was referring to was the late Eugene W. Rostow, Dean of Yale Law School, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs between 1966 and 1969.

Aside from being wrong on the law, Rabbi Kanefsky goes on to make the case, in all honesty, for not being there. Nowhere does he make the case for being there.

We hear nothing about the British Mandate to enable “close settlement of the land by Jews”, which mandate has never been abrogated.

We hear nothing about the massing of Arab armies on the greenline and their blood curdling cries to “throw the Jews into the sea”, prior to the Six Day War. Nor do we hear that international law allows for territorial acquisition pursuant to a defensive war.

The Rabbi appears to be motivated by guilt. We must “fix that which we have done“ and we have “an obligation towards the people we have harmed.” On the contrary, we Jews are the victims. We had every right to settle the land, to create Israel and to defend ourselves. It is the Arabs that must take responsibility for any harm which has befallen them. They have waged war on us for 100 years. They are the authors of their own misfortunes.

He stresses that “the difference that honest storytelling makes is enormous”. The Arab leadership agrees but prefer a dishonest narrative to win over people like Rabbi Kanefsky. In fact the Arab man on the street knows the truth and accordingly keeps migrating to the Israel side of the fence in Jerusalem preferring to be in Israel rather than Palestine. Since the fence has been built, 50,000 to 100,000 have moved to Jerusalem.

The mayor of Ras Hamis, a Palestinian neighbourhood on the eastern fringe of Jerusalem recently said that he can’t think of a worse fate for him and his constituents than being handed over to the weak and ineffective Palestinian Authority right now. “If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority. We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA.”

If we are really honest with ourselves, we would recognize that the Arabs have a religious duty to destroy Israel and have never done anything in pursuit of peace. Even when they agreed to end violence and incitement in the Oslo Accords and in the Roadmap, they never did. They increased it. There is no factual basis to believe that real peace is possible.

Meron Benvenisti, a historian and writer who is a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, said that the patchwork of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods that has developed in the area captured in 1967 makes it impossible to simply divide the city between Israel and a proposed Palestinian state.

“This talk may be good for the Americans or for internal Israeli debate, but on the ground, take a look and see, how can you do it? You can’t.”

Not only must we be really honest, we must be realistic.

October 26, 2007 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. My apologies but I didn’t mention that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with which Israel signed a Peace Treaty, relinquished its claims to the west bank. I don’t remember seeing a “palestinian” representative as a signatory at the ceremony so the west bank is, legally, Israeli territory.

  2. For all those of us who are continually arguing abouth whether Israel is legally allowed to hold on to Jerusalem or not I would like to quote from a very fine booklet that is available on the internet

    Extracts from “Israel and Palestine – Assault on the Law of Nations” by Julius Stone
    Editor: Ian Lacey, B.A., LL.B.

    The late Professor Julius Stone was recognised as one of the twentieth century’s leading authorities on the Law of Nations. Israel and Palestine, which appeared in 1980, presented a detailed analysis of the central principles of international law governing the issues raised by the Arab-Israel conflict.

    Julius Stone examines the principles governing legal title to the Territories known as the Gaza Strip and the “West Bank”, which are part of the territory which came into Israel’s possession during the war of 1967. In his analysis Stone draws upon the writings of Professor Stephen Schwebel, the former Chief Judge of the International Court of Justice.
    Since Stone wrote, the legal status of the Territories has been affected by the agreements implementing the Oslo Accords of 1993, which provide for a sharing of governmental powers in the Territories with the Palestinian Authority, with specified security powers reserved to Israel (See Part 5). However those agreements are on an interim basis, pending and subject to the negotiation of a “permanent status agreement”, and they leave the underlying legal title intact.
    Also the peace treaty of 1994 now sets the international boundary between Israel and Jordan at the centre of the Jordan river, “without prejudice to the status of [the] Territories”.

    The Self-Defence Principle
    The basic precept of international law concerning the rights of a state victim of aggression, which has lawfully occupied the attacking state’s territory in the course of self-defence, is clear. And it is still international law after the Charter, which gave to the UN General Assembly no power to amend this law. This precept is that a lawful occupant such as Israel is entitled to remain in control of
    the territory involved pending negotiation of a treaty of peace.

    the territory involved pending negotiation of a treaty of peace.

    This sentence, I think, says it all.

    Debka today has a ticker banner saying that the “palestinian” side is shrugging off responsibility for curbing terrorism….another reason not to negotiate.

    Un-divided Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and should remain so under international law.

  3. Shalom Ted,

    Subject: honest-realistic;

    The intro block offers a geographic feature probably being overlooked. NYC and Los Angeles omits “fly over land”. America has changed and Rabbi Lerner has not addressed this. Rabbi Kanefsky hasn’t changed and follows in the path of Joseph Proskauer.

    The abandonment of European Jewry is the model Rabbi Kanefsky uses for the abandonment of Israeli Jewry – the murders will also be outside the city limits of Jerusalem.

    All the above legal references are irrelevant. Stateside they carry elan – style – but in realpolitik they are only used in PR work – for opinion-molding purposes. Don’t forget Cyprus is divided and Jammu-Kashmir is not a tourist attraction.

    Our claims are strong. Our mechanical application of our claims is a disgrace to us.

    If, for example, Reverend Pat Robertson was allowed to build his Bible Theme Park in the Galilee, western Christian tourists would also schedule visits to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Rest assured the Arab barbarians’s petrodollars would be nullified in Washington, D.C. if US Christian tourist groups were murdered in Israel.

    Who gave the Arabs work permits, insurance, etc ? The name Golda Meir rings a bell.

    To be honest; the pending loss of Jerusalem can be traced to segments of Jewish diaspora support to the various Israeli secular governments and their political parties.

    To be realistic; both the orthodox and the reform rabbis gave us castrophes before and pending.The problem is internal to the undefined “Jewry”. For too long America’s political establishment relied on the so-called Jewish leadership as the voice of Jewry. It’s not.

    Don’t blame the Protestants. The problem is internal.

    Realism requires us to ask how Rabbi Kanefsky got a national rostrum to articulate international political matters.

    “the patchwork of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods that has developed” did not occur by osmosis. The Government of Israel acquiesced to this development. I believe Benvenisti was one of 10 (ten [?]) deputy mayors. This is an indicator of disguised unemployment. Histaudrut is more of a danger to Israel than the barbarians. Histaudrut is why Israel is not a combination Switzerland-Singapore.

    Kol tuv,

    Foot Note:

    The article mentions Eugene Rostow. His brother, Walt Rostow was more famous. Walt Rostow played a key role as an archetect of the Vietnam War planning in the JFK and LBJ administrations.

    The Rostows were born of Russian Jewish immigrant parents in New York City.

    Walt Rostow’s widow is a political scientist at the University of Texas.

    (I apologize to forum pundits for introducing flyover land in this footnote.)

  4. This same orthodox Rabbi if he were living in Europe in 1937-1940 after being advised by the likes of a Jabotynski and others would be telling his congregation not to flee Europe, when they could for Palestine as the Nazi’s were civilized and it would soon all blow over, just sit tight an wait it out! Here we have a weak pathetic attempt at moral equivalence.
    I am very sorry my dear Rabbi but we were right and you and they(all who agree with you) are wrong even if 95% of every person on the planet agrees with you you are all wrong.

    Truth does not require a majority.

    You would not want to see Jerusalem divided BUT…..

    You claim to be an Orthodox Rabbi: what imbecile gave you smicha? Do you even believe in God? The Torah? The Talmud.? Do you know the mitzvot? what does it say re: The Land of Israel? Do we get our rights from an Orthodox point of View from the Good will of the nations or from the covenants (plural) between our Fathers Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, Moses and the Whole Jewish people at Sinai? That you are still living in the Galut instead of Israel which in itself is a rejection of the most important Mitva speaks volumes as to who and what you are:

    Some commentors in Israpundit and other Blogs go to great lengths to show and prove that Israel has by rights in Law and ethics to retain all of Jerusalem and parts of Judea and Samaria, this may be so but it ain’t a Jewish response! It should never be an Israeli response without first establishing our rightful claim based on history and the Bible then and only then should civil law and international legalities be invoked.

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