Israel’s right to exist or theft of another’s land?

By Rodney Mazinter

It is extremely difficult for rational people to understand the motivation of those who live in Europe, the UK, North America and elsewhere in the West, yet embrace monstrous dictators, ideologies, real apartheid, racism, and policies that leave only death and destruction in their wake. The existence and support for this deviation from constitutional government exists in every other Middle Eastern country except Israel, but why in the West?

The answer must be sought among those in the West, enjoying the benefits of democracy, who believe that the world’s future is in centralised rule and who are surfacing in many of the free world’s media. Here’s some homework for them.

They freely bandy about words like “apartheid” in relation to Israel and totally ignore apartheid in the surrounding countries and territories where once thriving but no longer extant, Christian, Jewish and any other religious groups lived. If pockets still do survive there, then unfortunately they exist only as second-class citizens.

They publish and promote some appalling anti-Israel statements. Most of what they write is demonstrably unsubstantiated by credible sources, and they draw conclusions in total opposition to reality.

Their aim is not to fight genuine oppression, but rather to censure Israel, the Middle East's only liberal democracy and the only country among its neighbours designated as "free" by Freedom House that monitors the status of political and human and civil rights around the world. Palestinian advocates have the effrontery to deflect responsibility for the lack of progress towards peace onto Israel, a ploy that beggars description.

They have no right to lecture Israel on its humanity when the Jewish state has just sent 120 truckloads of food into Gaza to feed the Palestinian people there and cares for Palestinians and other nationals in its hospitals, gratis. Also, it has helped the victims of the Russian aggression in Ukraine to escape the bombs and bullets of the invading army, refugees who include Moroccans, Egyptians and other Muslim, African and Middle East nationals; the only country to do so.

The Palestinian leadership is more interested in using Gaza’s population as human shields while Hamas launches thousands of rockets against Israel from within major civilian centres. Israel does whatever it takes to defend itself from outright attack by terrorists. These commentators have the temerity to lecture Israel on what strategy it uses to protect itself.

They ignore the one critical issue that confounds the contention that Israel is an occupying apartheid entity in Judea and Samaria. The contested settlements constitute about 2% of the area involved, far less than the Arab settlements that live peacefully and productively in Israel.

From 1917 to 1948 the West Bank was part of the Palestine Mandate administered by Great Britain. Before that, for 400 years, it was occupied and ruled by Turkey as part of its Ottoman Empire. After WWI Britain was mandated by the League of Nations to commit itself to the Balfour Declaration, which prescribed the “close settlement by Jews everywhere in their historic homeland, from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean. “

The so-called “occupied territories” of the West Bank in reality form part of the original land of Israel, within which the British were enjoined to establish the Jewish national home. To claim that it is now occupied is wrong in history and law — it was a mandatory trust given to Britain.

Under the terms of UN Resolution 242, Israel is entitled to keep the designated area until the “Palestinians” end their belligerency emanating from within its number, and until the Palestinians negotiate a peace with Israel with agreed borders. The current argument is based on the contention that Britain’s Palestine Mandate was terminated in 1947 when the British government resigned as the mandatory power. This is incorrect. A trust never terminates when a trustee dies or resigns.

A future National Home for the Jewish people was established in Palestine, based on the League of Nations obligation under the "Mandate for Palestine" document. The "Mandate for Palestine," an historical League of Nations document, laying down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law. When the League of Nations was dissolved after the Second World War this obligation was carried over in full to the United Nations.

The "Mandate for Palestine" was not a naïve vision briefly embraced by the international community. Fifty-one member countries -the entire League of Nations -unanimously brought it into being 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."

It is important to point out that political rights to self-determination as a state, enjoying existence as a political entity for Arabs were guaranteed by the same League of Nations at the same time and at the same gathering  they were granted to Israel, in four other mandates in Lebanon and Syria (The French Mandate), Iraq, and later Trans-Jordan [The British Mandate]. Any attempt to negate the Jewish people's right to Palestine -Eretz-Israel, and to deny them access and control in the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations is a serious infringement of international law.

The "Road Map" vision, as well as continuous pressure from the "Quartet" (U.S., the European Union, the UN and Russia) to surrender parts of Eretz-Israel are contrary to international law that firmly call to "encourage ... close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes." 

It also requires the Mandate for "seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the government of any foreign power." In their attempt to establish peace between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbours, the nations of the world and the media should remember who the lawful sovereign is with its rights anchored in international law, valid to this day.

The West Bank and Gaza were indeed illegally occupied — by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967, a fact that inexplicably is never mentioned by Israel’s critics who rage against Israel’s “illegal apartheid occupation”. 

The idea that these territories are Palestinian as of right is a myth of historic inversion and invention, and one of unprincipled propaganda. Indeed, the original Article 24 of the PLO Covenant explicitly states that “this organisation does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank.” It was only in the wake of the 1967 war after Jordan (not the Palestinians), lost the territory to Israel, that article 24 was revised to incorporate the Palestinian claim. This verbal assault against Israel is patently part of a strategy that seeks that Israel becomes exposed and defenceless. 

Then there is the accusation that the Jews and their money have a plot to capture control of the world, an accusation straight from the debunked and discredited ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. In other words 15 million Jews, (less that .05% of the overall population on earth), want to take control of 8 billion worldwide.

In a revealing book, "Jews Don’t Count", by David Baddiel, he writes: "A study by the non-partisan wealth research firm New World Wealth found that 56.2 per cent of the 13.1 million millionaires in the world were Christian, while 6.5 per cent were Muslim, 3.9 per cent were Hindu and 1.7 per cent were Jewish. In the US, 48 per cent of Hindus have a yearly household income of $ 100,000 or more, and 70 per cent have at least $ 75,000, which makes them the highest-earning ethnic group."

That is why it is so ironic that Israel should be called an imperialist power. Israel is the only nation to have ruled the land it calls home in the past four thousand years. It has never been an empire and never sought to become one. Israel has been attacked, and for a time ruled by many empires: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, the Ptolemies, Seleucids, the Byzantines, Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottomans. The most telling occupation followed by dispersion was after the Roman conquest that heralded the diaspora of recent history.

In July 1938 world leaders gathered in the French town of Evian to discuss ways of saving the Jews who were being faced by the dominance of Nazism in Germany. None was forthcoming. Nation after nation shut its doors. Millions of Jews were in danger and there was nowhere they could go. Jews discovered that on the whole surface of the earth there was not an inch they could call home in the sense given by the poet Robert Frost as the place where, ‘When you have to go there, they have to let you in.’ From that moment a Jewish homeland, promised twenty years earlier, became a moral necessity.

As the smoke of war cleared in 1945, as the Russians entered Auschwitz and the British Bergen-Belsen, slowly people began to understand the enormity of what had happened. A third of world Jewry had been brutally and inhumanely slaughtered. One and a half million children had been murdered, not only because of their faith, or their parents’ faith, but because one of their grandparents had been a Jew. When the destruction was over, a pillar of cloud marked the place where Europe’s Jews had once been, amidst a silence that was deafening.

On the day of its birth, Israel was attacked by the armies of five states, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. A country of a mere six hundred thousand people, many of whom were refugees or Holocaust survivors, faced the full force of nations whose population was 45 million.

From then on, Israel was never far from the threat of war or terror. In 1967, Arab armies gathered in force on Israel’s borders. The Egyptian president Abdul Nasser closed the straits of Tiran and spoke of driving Israel into the sea. Israel won a stunning victory in what came to be known as the Six Day War. 

Seven years later, while most Israelis were in synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Egypt and Syria attacked again, making rapid and devastating advances. For those of us watching these events from afar, on both occasions it seemed as if a second Holocaust was in the making. Eventually Israel drove the invading forces back and survived.

From then on, the entire nature of the struggle changed. The assault on Israel switched from war to terror, and from nation-states to sub-national groups, spearheaded by the PLO under Yasser Arafat, later succeeded by Hamas and Hezbollah. At the national level, Israel concluded a peace agreement with Egypt in 1979, and with Jordan in 1994. 

Then a more subtle but equally destructive international campaign of delegitimisation began. Its first result was the 1975 United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism, a motion Kofi Annan, its General Secretary, was later to call the ‘low point’ in the UN's history as an institution. The motion was not repealed until 1991. 

Israel has often been accused of being a threat to peace. In fact, of the many partition (i.e., two-state) proposals between the Balfour Declaration and today, Israel has accepted them all; its neighbours have rejected them all. 

Israel agreed to the Peel Commission proposals in 1937; the Arabs rejected them. It accepted the 1947 United Nations resolution; again, the Arabs rejected it. In 1948, in the Declaration of Independence, Ben Gurion called for peace; the Arab response was war. In 1967, after the Six Day War, Israel made an offer to return territories in exchange for peace. The offer was conveyed on 16 June 1967. On 1 September 1967, the Arab league meeting in Khartoum gave its reply, the ‘Three No’s’: no to peace, no to negotiation, no to recognition.

In 1969, Golda Meir became Prime Minister. Her first announcement was a call to Israel’s neighbours to begin peace negotiations. Within three days, Egypt’s President Nasser delivered his rejection with the words, ‘There is no call holier than war.’

In June 1969, Mrs Meir offered to go personally to Egypt to negotiate an agreement. A Jordanian newspaper commented that she apparently believed ‘that one fine day a world without guns will emerge in the Middle East. Golda Meir is behaving like a grandmother telling bedtime stories to her grandchildren.’

Between 1993 to 2001, during the Oslo peace process, Israel made its most generous offers, reaching the point at Taba of offering the Palestinians a state in all of Gaza, some 95–97 per cent of the West Bank, with compensating border adjustments elsewhere, and with East Jerusalem as their capital. Again, the answer was ‘no’. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States and an active participant in the talks, said in December 2000, ‘If Arafat does not accept what is available now, it won’t be a tragedy, it will be a crime.’ 

The Palestinians have rejected every Israeli move to establish peace. The Oslo peace process led to suicide bombings. Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon led to the Katyusha attacks by Hezbollah—attacks which caused as many Palestinian as Israeli casualties. The 2005 withdrawal from Gaza led to the rise of power of Hamas and the sustained missile attacks on the Israeli town of Sderot and surrounding towns.

Every Israeli offer, every withdrawal, every hint at concessions has been interpreted by the Palestinians as a sign of weakness and a victory for terror and has led to yet greater terror. If every Israeli gesture towards its neighbours is taken as an invitation to violence, then peace becomes impossible, not because Israel does not seek it, but because, simply and quite explicitly, Hamas and Hezbollah do not seek peace, but rather the destruction of Israel.

After a fact-finding mission to Gaza in June 1949, the head of the British Middle East office in Cairo, Sir John Troutbeck, reported “that the refugees express no bitterness against the Jews. Their anger was directed solely at the Egyptians and other Arab states: ‘We know who our enemies are,’ they will say, and they are referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare, persuaded them unnecessarily to leave their homes. Some said that they ‘would give a welcome to the Israelis if they were to come in and take the district over.“

Also sometimes forgotten, is that some seven to eight hundred thousand Jews were forced, without compensation, to leave Arab states, among them Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya, in many of which they had lived for far longer than had the non-Jewish population of Palestine. The plight of the two groups was quite different. The Jewish refugees were absorbed immediately, most by Israel itself. The Palestinian refugees were denied citizenship by every Arab country except Jordan, to be used as pawns in the political battle against Israel.

A fundamental falsehood permeates almost every discussion of the Israel–Palestine conflict. The premise is that one side loses and the other side wins. That is precisely what it is not. As was shown in Egypt and Jordan, from peace both sides gain. From violence both sides suffer. That is why not only Israelis but also those who genuinely care for the Palestinians and for their children’s right to a future should be giving their support to peace.

Today there are 120 countries in which most of the population is Christian. There are fifty-seven member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. There is only one Jewish state, a tiny country, one-quarter of one per cent of the landmass of the Arab world.

Israel has done extraordinary things. It has absorbed immigrants from 103 countries, speaking 82 languages. It has turned a desolate landscape into a place of forests and fields. It has developed cutting-edge agricultural and medical techniques and created one of the world’s most advanced high-tech economies. It has produced great poets and novelists, dancers, artists and sculptors, symphony orchestras, universities and research institutes. It has presided over the rebirth of the great Talmudic academies destroyed in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust.

Wherever in the world there is a humanitarian disaster, Israel, if permitted, is one of the first to send aid, the most recent: it was the first country to offer and implement aid to Ukraine’s civilians, and recently during the Syrian civil war, set up field hospitals to treat Arabs fleeing the violence. It has shared its technologies with other developing countries. Under immense strain, it has sustained democracy, a free press and an independent judiciary.

We need also insist on the principle of reciprocal altruism, otherwise known as Tit-for-Tat. This says: “As you behave to others, so will others behave to you. If you seek respect, you must give respect. If you ask for tolerance, you must demonstrate tolerance. If you wish not to be offended, then you must make sure you do not offend.” 

As John Locke said, “It is unreasonable that any should have a free liberty of their religion who do not acknowledge it as a principle of theirs that nobody ought to persecute or molest another because he dissents from him in religion. This principle alone, properly applied, would have banned at the outset the preachers-of-hate who radicalised so many impressionable minds in the West, turning them into murderers in God’s name.”

Israel has taken a barren land and made it bloom again. It has taken an ancient language, the Hebrew of the Bible, and made it speak again. It has taken the West’s oldest faith and made it young again. It has taken a shattered nation and made it live again."

Leaving aside international sympathy considerations, Israel and Jews above all don’t need another 6-million victims.