Making waves – U.S. Jewish groups must lead the fight against “territories” lie
March 27, 1992
A Column from “A Modern Orthodox Life.”
by Emanuel Rackman
Fervently I pray that Jewish organizations soon will find the courage to summon American Jews to march on Washington. Not for financial help for Israel, but to put an end to the he that Israel is violating any international law and to affirm that the so-called “occupied territories” are rightfully Israel’s and the settlements are legal beyond question or doubt.
The repeated lies of Bush and Baker impel me to write as often as I do about this lest Jews begin to believe the lies because of their repetition.
One of the finest features of the Zionist movement is that it always respected and abided by international law.
Everything it achieved was by lawful purchase, not by conquest. And there is a historic, traditional Jewish law basis for it.
Jews twice have lost their independence in 536 B.C.E., when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem, and in 71 C.E. when it was taken by the Romans. Our sages regarded the conquest of the Babylonians as legal, while that of the Romans was not. The Jews recognized the title of the Babylonians to the land but not that of Rome.
The difference was clear to them. The Babylonians took by conquest what the Jews had acquired by conquest from the Canaanites. Thus, one conquest justified a succeeding one. However, the Romans conquered what was acquired by the Jews by law by the edict of the Persian emperor and because of their settlement on the land pursuant to an imperial grant recognized by international law. Conquest never vitiates a title lawfully acquired.
Every step the Zionists ever took was lawful. Every inch of land was paid for. What the Jordanians conquered in 1948 illegally, brazenly, cruelly was retaken in 1967, and what Israel now holds it is entitled to not by virtue of what happened in 1967 alone but also because of the status of the area in 1948 and even earlier. If ever any country acted with chutzpah, it is Jordan and its Arab allies.
I am no expert in international law, but the late Professor Julius Stone of Australia was one of the greatest. He was one of the most respected jurists in the world; his books are masterpieces cited as authority whenever law generally, international law in particular, is studied and practiced. Moreover, in his conclusions he draws from the writings of a colleague, Professor Stephen Schwebel, a judge of the International Court of Justice.
In 1980 Stone wrote a short work titled “Israel and Palestine” dealing with the principles of international law involved in the conflict between Israel and the world, not only the Arabs who have mesmerized humanity that justice is on their side.
It is difficult to summarize Stone’s arguments in a brief essay. Suffice it to say that he holds Israel’s position in the conflict to be the only just one, and that what the Arabs are arguing is “subversion both of basic international law principles, and of rights and obligations in states under them” and “grotesque reversals of the United Nations’ own positions of the preceding quarter century, as part of a wide and illicit rewriting of history.” Theirs is “an assault with covert as well as overt elements on the international legal order.”
I was impressed especially with Stone’s argument that the Palestinians have no right whatever to a state and who more than Jews have joined the wagon of their enemies to shed tears for those who would destroy them.
There is a doctrine of self-determination in international law, but the people who claim it must constitute a nation “with a common endowment of distinctive language or ethnic origin or history and tradition, and the like, distinctive from others among whom it lives, associated with a particular territory, and lacking (italics mine) an independent territorial home in which it may live.”
The PLO itself never claimed that the Palestinians are anything but the same as Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese. “We are one people,” it says. And it is only to fight Zionism that those of them who live in Israel claim a separate identity, and it is apparent that the claim is for a limited period until Israel will be reunited with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Thus, can I shed tears for those who have created a figment of imagination as the instrument to destroy my people and my homeland?
When Zionists affirm that the Palestinians have a state they are right. They have more than one. If they do not want to move there, they have no more right to defy Israel than African Americans in Harlem can claim a state in central Manhattan or the Bronx. And Washington is “taken in” by the PLO as it is taken in by Saddam Hussein, and some Americans accept the fiction as fact the vicious fairy tale as a plea for justice.
Yet the defense agencies of American Jewry are afraid to speak up not just for Jews or Israel, but for tried and established principles of law upon which the future of world peace depends.