Op-Ed: Unsettling "Settlement" Lies
Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng.The writer, an engineer living in Toronto, Canada is co-founder of Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights – CILR www.cilr.org. He does consulting work in fluid dynamics, water pumping stations, and project economic analysis and his interests include Middle East politics.
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?