Ameinu Israel Israeli occupation Israeli settlements Palestinians Zionism

Ameinu forces us to confront the realities of occupation

Ameinu is showing clips from a video documentary that got a lot of attention in Israel in 2005 and deserves to get even more attention now. For two years, Haim Yavin, the venerable Israeli anchor for the government-run Channel 1 TV, roamed the territories with a simple video camera, talked to Jewish settlers, soldiers, Palestinians, Israeli peace activists and others in order to document, in heartrending detail, the moral price of the occupation. The result was a five-part series that the settler leadership tried but failed to prevent from airing three years ago.

Yavin has said he made the documentary “so that I and those like me can’t say we didn’t see it, we didn’t hear it, we didn’t know.” The rest of us also need to stop making that excuse, and face up to the realities that are vividly conveyed by Yavin and the people he interviews

The first, very brief clip on the Ameinu web site focuses on Hebron, and includes an interview with a laconic Israeli soldier who describes what it feels like when Jewish settlers casually urge him to shoot Palestinian children. Also worth reading is a call to action, which proposes an orderly withdrawal of settlers now, before it’s too late. It does so from a decidedly Zionist perspective which will make both Jewish right wingers and anti-Zionists uncomfortable, but is a message that should resonate with Ameinu’s chief, target audience: affiliated American Jews.

When the series first aired, some Israeli reviewers express much more impatience with the settlers than Ameinu does. Here was the emotional reaction from Raanan Shaked in Yedioth Ahronoth (6/1/05):

The breath becomes short, the heart is choked with anger. This is the only human response to The Land of the Settlers. No, there is actually another reasonable reaction: After watching The Land of the Settlers, every caring Israeli, every humane Israeli, should get up next Saturday, go to the settlement nearest to his place of residence, and drag its inhabitants, kicking and screaming, across the road to the side of sanity. This is what comes out of The Land of the Settlers, the personal territories journal of Chaim Yavin, who reaches an impressive professional peak here as a documentary journalist. Although it may not be new on an informative level, The Land of the Settlers will astound you, mainly by placing on the screen, over the course of many hours, the hard core of the shameful insanity of the settlers in the territories, along with the tacit approval of the Israeli governments, along with the helplessness of the army…

What makes this video even more important now is that the plight of Palestinians in the territories has gotten even worse than it was when Yavin aired it…Ameinu is also distributing the whole series at a discount.

Finally, I will extend yet another apology for the infrequency of my posts. I should be able to pay more attention to this blog within the next few weeks, after I complete the manuscript of my long-awaited, soon-to-be-classic book on America’s conventional Israel lobby and what, if anything, can be done to transform or replace it.

38 thoughts on “Ameinu forces us to confront the realities of occupation

  1. Dan,
    Thank you for sharing Ameinu’s most recent video initiative with your readers.
    Just one small correction, Ameinu is not offering the full 5 hour series for sale –
    Instead we are making available for the first time a single 90 minute DVD distilled by Yavin from the original series.
    Come to http://www.ameinu.net/yavin for more details about both the video campaign and Ameinu.

    Tom
    As far as I know – there are no copies of the original series available for rent.

  2. Dan, I wouldn’t sweat it anymore. Any country that would release a Samir Kuntar is not long for this world. This is all going to be a moot point.

  3. The US is tougher on terrorism than Israel. We still have Sirhan Sirhan in jail. If Sirhan had been in an Israeli jail (where the walls are made of tin, and just as soon as they put you in you can bust right out again) then Sirhan would have been released decades ago in a prisoner exchange and would be fat and happy in Syria with his grandkids.

    Unbelievable.

  4. Samir Kuntar served 29 years in prison. So its not like he did not receive any punishment. This is a major improvement from 1987 when Shamir traded 1500 prisoners for three Israelis.

    In the U.S. officials aren’t as susceptible to emotional appeals by relatives.

  5. I would understand the power of the relatives’ appeals if their sons and husbands had still been alive.

    But their sons and husbands were already dead. Everyone knew it. I knew it.

    It does not seem to me that the parties which supported this travesty–Shas, Labor and Kadima, are of sound judgement.

    The Israelis can elect whoever they want. But even though Likud has carried out unwise exchanges such as the one Tom mentioned, it never carried out unwise exchanges for dead bodies.

  6. Jonathan, that fact that “you knew it” doesn’t mean anything. There was a certainty as to the death of one of the soldiers but only high probability of death of another.
    You make me laugh about the Likud part: the deal that Sharon pushed for the release of Elchanan Tannenbaum was ten times worse: true, Israel did receive one hostage alive – a crooked drug dealer, a former IDF colonel, who knew too much (that I know from a well informed source) – in exchange, among others, for Dirani and Obeid, the former being held in Israel precisely for the purpose of trading for Ron Arad. The corrupt Sharon easily twisted the hands of everybody involved to push for this deal. Almost no one in th establishment dared to squeak against it – not even the vaunted security services that now speak so much of “dangerous precedents” in releasing prisoners with blood on their hands. Also, at the time, Sharon assured the uneasy public opinion that it is Kuntar who will serve the last bargaining chip for Ron Arad.

  7. “””You make me laugh about the Likud part: the deal that Sharon pushed for the release of Elchanan Tannenbaum was ten times worse:”””

    I completely disagree. Sharon released hundreds of Lebanese who Israel had captured over the years in Lebanon. There was no point in keeping them. Israel had already left Lebanon.

    Kantar on the other hand had entered Israel by boat, seized a house and murdered a family. Show me someone released in Sharon’s deal who was as bad as Kantar.

    Show me one.

    “””true, Israel did receive one hostage alive – a crooked drug dealer, a former IDF colonel, who knew too much (that I know from a well informed source) – in exchange, among others, for Dirani and Obeid, the former being held in Israel precisely for the purpose of trading for Ron Arad.”””

    Obeid and Dirani had not killed anyone that I know of. I see no comparisons between their releases and the release of Kantar. Did Obeid and Dirani bash in a child’s head? Did they shoot any member of a family after seizing the family’s house?

    Did Obeid and Dirani ever even enter Israel of their own volition?

    “””not even the vaunted security services that now speak so much of “dangerous precedents” in releasing prisoners with blood on their hands.”””

    Again I challenge you. Show me the prisoner with “blood on his hands” who Sharon released who was as bad as Kantar.

    You cannot.

    “””Also, at the time, Sharon assured the uneasy public opinion that it is Kuntar who will serve the last bargaining chip for Ron Arad.”””

    Which Kantar did, until Labor/Shas/Kadima freed Kantar without receiving any useful information about Arad. At that point Sharon had been in a coma for years and could not possibly be blamed for Labor/Shas/Kadima breaking Sharon’s promise.

  8. Actually this all stems from two sources. Heads of government allowing themselves to be influenced by emotional appeals of relatives of hostages or corpses. This happened with Reagan as well in the Irangate scandal. People complained about how emotionally dead Dukakis was in the 1988 debates when he answered the hypothetical question about his wife being raped and the death penalty. Well if they want those who are animated by emotion they end up with Irangate and the totally one-sided Israeli hostage swaps.

    The other cause is just Israeli arrogance. Does anyone really believe that an ordinary Israeli soldier (or officer) is worth hundreds of Palestinians on the battlefield? Give me a break. At most a typical Israeli soldier is worth three or four trained Palestinian terrorists.

  9. Its a propaganda ploy though.

    It attempts to state, “we value human life”, in contrast to you for whom your people are just fodder even to yourself.

  10. Neither Eichmann nor Goering killed anybody with their own hands either yet they were both sentenced to death. Apparently one can be guilty of murder even if they send someone else to do it.

    I agree completely with Peter D….I, as an Orthodox/religous pro-Judea-Samaria-settlement Israeli think the Likud is NO DIFFERENT, if not worse than the current ruling Leftist coalition. Netanyahu and most of the rest of the gang supported all the policies that got Israel into its current predicament and is in no moral position to criticize the current gov’t. This explains why there is so much dispair among the population, no one (and by this I primarily mean the so-called political “Right wing”) is offering any alternative to the suicidal policies of the ruling coalition.

  11. Y Ben-David,
    Do you think that it is concurrent with Torah to expropriate land or other property, directly or indirectly?

    If you are a beneficiary of property that comes into your hands, that you discover was not purchased in a valid contract, what do you consider your personal obligations in that case?

    What does Torah say, IN FACT? Not in rationalization?

  12. Jonathan.

    “Kantar on the other hand had entered Israel by boat, seized a house and
    murdered a family. Show me someone released in Sharon’s deal who was as
    bad as Kantar.”

    I am not playing games who is worse and who is better. The question here
    is not who was released, but the fact that the Israeli public was
    deliberately lied to by Sharon in order to push the deal through.
    Tannenbaum’s record was concealed form the public. My guess is that the
    military intelligence needed to know whether he told Hizballah
    everything he knew or there was still a chance to save some info.

    “Obeid and Dirani had not killed anyone that I know of. I see no
    comparisons between their releases and the release of Kantar. Did Obeid
    and Dirani bash in a child’s head? Did they shoot any member of a family
    after seizing the family’s house?”

    That’s beyond the point. Prisoners exchanges are not some way of
    achieving universal justice. They are pragmatic agreements where each
    side is trying to get something in return. One side of the trade is
    Israeli public and it should know in advance what it expects to get in
    return. That was not the case with Sharon’s trade.

    “Which Kantar did, until Labor/Shas/Kadima freed Kantar without
    receiving any useful information about Arad. At that point Sharon had
    been in a coma for years and could not possibly be blamed for
    Labor/Shas/Kadima breaking Sharon’s promise.”

    Jonathan, you come across as a very naive person in this last quote –
    something I would not think of you judging by your other comments I got
    to read. So, it’s either that or you’re being disingenuous. Because to
    claim that Sharon would have kept his promise regardless of his
    political considerations and that it is only Labor/Kadima/Shas “perfidy”
    is really to demonstrate you don’t know who Sharon was. Sharon changed
    his position on issues of strategic importance. One is the construction
    of the Wall, which he eloquently opposed till he came to like the idea.
    Another was the unilateral disengagement (all consistent with his plan
    of what Baruch Kimmerling called “Palestinian politicide”) He would have
    swapped Kuntar without batting an eyelid if he thought it was
    politically advantageous for him. Which in itself I don’t condemn:
    again, the merits of the swaps should be weighed mainly in pragmatical
    terms without highfalutin “blood on the hands” rhetoric. In this respect
    one can argue as to whether the last swap was worth it etc, just spare
    us that “if only Sharon was alive” nonsense.

  13. “””Neither Eichmann nor Goering killed anybody with their own hands either yet they were both sentenced to death. Apparently one can be guilty of murder even if they send someone else to do it.”””

    Yes. However, courts convicted Eichmann, Goering and Kantar. There is no reasonable question about their guilt.

    The Israeli courts never convicted Obeid and Dirani of murder. I don’t know if the Israeli government even put them on trial for murder.

    I think that Obeid and Dirani were more like uncharged prisoners at Gitmo.

    Anyone who compares Kantar to the pro-Hezbollah preacher Obeid is minimizing the baby skull-bashing Kantar’s guilt.

  14. “””I am not playing games who is worse and who is better.”””

    I am not either. However, I do assert that Kantar was worse than anyone that Sharon ever released.

    “””The question here is not who was released”””

    It doesn’t need to be a question for you. It is a question for me.
    .
    “””but the fact that the Israeli public was
    deliberately lied to by Sharon”””

    Probably. However, the question I pose is whether Qantar was worse than anyone Sharon ever release, and my answer is YES. You are posing a different question.

    “””Prisoners exchanges are not some way of
    achieving universal justice. They are pragmatic agreements where each
    side is trying to get something in return.”””

    I am still trying to figure out what Israel got exactly. It got the remains of two soldiers.

    “””One side of the trade is
    Israeli public and it should know in advance what it expects to get in
    return.”””

    Perhaps some members of the Israeli public were ignorant enough to believe that the “prisoner exchange” would involve actual Israeli prisoners. In that case those deluded members of the Israeli public did not know in advance what Israel would receive.

    “””That was not the case with Sharon’s trade.”””

    We are discussing two completely different questions. I merely assert that Sharon never released anyone as bad as Kantar. You do not dispute my assertion.

    “””Because to
    claim that Sharon would have kept his promise”””

    I never made such a claim. I merely asserted the obvious, that the comatose Sharon cannot be blamed for the release of Kantar, since at the time of the release Sharon had been unconscious for a number of years and was unaware of what was happening.

    I am merely stating the obvious.

    “””One is the construction
    of the Wall, which he eloquently opposed till he came to like the idea.”””

    He was wise. The idea of a wall on or near the ’67 border is great. The current wall includes 12 percent of the West Bank.

    “””Another was the unilateral disengagement (all consistent with his plan
    of what Baruch Kimmerling called “Palestinian politicide”)””””

    Another good idea. But assume that the withdrawal from Gaza was a bad idea. What does that have to do with releasing the Lebanese Kantar to Hezbollah? I am not seeing the connection.

    “””He would have
    swapped Kuntar without batting an eyelid”””

    Perhaps he would have. However, he never did. Kantar remained imprisoned throughout Sharon’s rule, and Sharon refused to release Kantar in 2004.

    I have trouble blaming the comatose or the dead for what they “would have” done but did not do while conscious.

    “””if he thought it was
    politically advantageous for him.”””

    Perhaps it would not have been advantageous for him. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. He has been comatose for years. He did not release Kantar.

    “””Which in itself I don’t condemn:
    again, the merits of the swaps should be weighed mainly in pragmatical
    terms without highfalutin “blood on the hands” rhetoric.”””

    I would put it another way. The pragmatic aspects of releasing prisoners with “blood on their hands” should be considered. Perhaps releasing such prisoners is not practical or pragmatic at all. Perhaps releasing such prisoners is impractical and non-pragmatic.

    Perhaps releasing Kantar was non-pragmatic. Perhaps Hamas is less likely to release Shalit as a result.

    Perhaps the definition of what “pragmatic” means needs to be reconsidered. Perhaps “meeting the limited needs of the moment” is sometimes not pragmatic at all.

    “””just spare
    us that “if only Sharon was alive” nonsense.”””

    I never said any such thing. I merely noted, in response to others, that Sharon was comatose for years at the time of Kantar’s release and thus cannot be blamed for it.

  15. Richard Witty-
    I am not sure that I understand your question, but I would say the following – the Torah recognizes Jewish sovereign rights in Eretz Israel. This was confirmed by other nations in the world by the Balfour Declaration and League of Nations Mandate of Palestine granted to Britain in 1922 (on the basis of the Balfour Declaration). This does not mean that Jews have the right to sieze private property belonging to non-Jews except in ways accepted internationally (e.g. “eminent domain”). However, Jews have the right to acquire from the state unowned lands (what is called “State Lands” in Judea/Samaria) and to develop and settle them.
    I hope that answers your question.

  16. “the Torah recognizes Jewish sovereign rights in Eretz Israel”

    Thats NOT my understanding.

    My understanding is that any promise in Torah of sovereignty or title (two separate questions anyway) are defined in the term “IF you keep my commandments, I will give you the rain in its time”.

    So, if the commandments state, “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s possession, anything that is thy neighbor’s”, that THAT constitutes the basis of any implied sovereignty, as confusing as it is.

    Its CONDITIONAL, not unconditional, and not to be rationalized.

    Thats if you are a follower of Torah.

  17. Also, the commandments apply not ONLY to the Jewish community.

    We are instructed to treat animals kindly, to treat the land kindly, to make our enemies into our friends, to make whole what is broken.

    Not to rationalize that Torah sanctions what is our private ambition.

  18. Y Ben-David,

    One of your statements was interesting. I would like to understand it because perhaps it touches on core differences that I have never fully grasped. You wrote:

    “the Torah recognizes Jewish sovereign rights in Eretz Israel. This was confirmed by other nations in the world by the Balfour Declaration and League of Nations Mandate of Palestine granted to Britain in 1922 (on the basis of the Balfour Declaration).”

    The way it is constructed, it conveys the idea that Torah-granted sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael was RECOGNIZED by Balfour and the League of Nations. Is that what you mean? I don’t have time to go back and review, but my impression is that the historic connections between the Jewish people and Israel were recognized or implied by Balfour and the League, but not “sovereignty” based on Biblical text. And Balfour carefully called it a “homeland” and dodged the whole issue of sovereignty, didn’t he? (I am not sure, so tell me if I’m wrong).

    Also, am I correct in presuming you think that Jewish sovereignty over “Greater Israel” is promised in the Torah? If so, please fill me in on the following:

    Aren’t there different passages that connote different boundaries, different kinds of promises from God? I have met Orthodox Jews (e.g., Oz ‘v Shalom people, Rabbi Melchior and others)who question the notion that a fixed area of land was promised by God.

    Thanks

  19. Richard Witty-
    You are mixing two different matters together. The Torah, in great deal, delineates the borders of Eretz Israel and describes the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land. For example, Patriarch Abraham’s purchase of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron is described more than once in the Bible in great detail. These are what are called “halachic” (i.e. legal) issues. According to many (but not all) classical Jewish scholars, settlement in Eretz Israel is a halachic imperative (but as I said, there is a position denies this). Some scholars say this imperative is always operational, even during the depths of the exile, others say that at times like that, patience is required, however, if political, religious and social forces open up the opportunity for return to the Land and renewal of political sovereignity (e.g. modern Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, the Six-Day War of 1967), then the opportunity must be siezed and acted upon.
    Secondly, there is a the “Brit” (covenant) between G-d and the Jewish people. The Jews are expected to observe the laws of the Torah, and there are serious consequences if they are not observed. One of the major punishments is exile from Eretz Israel. However, the recent return to Eretz Israel has taken place after a prolonged, 2000 year-long exile. If your question means to imply that since most Jews today are not observant of many of the commandments of the Torah, then automatically our sovereign rights in Eretz Israel are supposedly abridged, then I can say that most religious Jews reject that view and say that since the opportunity for return to the Land and building a state has presented itself, we are obligated to take advantage of it. Regarding the Brit, many would say that G-d sometimes takes away our sovereignity in Eretz Israel and sometimes grants the opportunity for it back and that the Jewish people must take advantage of these opportunities, G-d EXPECTS us to do this. It might be viewed as a case of ingratitude NOT to take advantage of it.

  20. The mechanism of “state lands” is a slippery slope as well.

    If historical state lands (even within Israel proper) are acquired without fair contract or universally accepted due process before unbiased courts, then they don’t have any rights to transfer land ownership to other entities.

    For a settler to reside on land that is not “his/hers”, as a beneficiary of an illegal transfer of title upstream, then their title to that land is imperfect. They don’t “own” the land.

    Sovereignty is itself a different issue. Sovereignty in all modern usage, certainly in Israel, results from the consent of the governed.

    In the case of the West Bank, the consent of the governed would then NECESSARILY include the Palestinian residents and in proportion to their population (even if the settlers were allowed to perfect their title).

    Torah does not grant unconditional Jewish sovereignty to the land, in any manner that I’m aware of.

  21. Dan Flesher-
    You are quite right, the Balfour Declaration refers to a Jewish “Homeland” and that was open to different interpretations. Obviously the Zionists viewed it as meaning a state, I think most neutral observers would also view it as such. However, as late as 1942, Ben-Gurion would say he was working for a “Jewish Commonwealth” in the Biltmore Declaration, because he was still afraid to say “Jewish State” (not that he didn’t want a state, but this was at the height of World War II and he didn’t want to antagonize the British Empire which was fighting for its life, so he pulled his punches).

    Yes, according to the Torah, the Jews have the right to sovereignity over the entire area delineated in the Torah. You are quite right that there are different boundaries mentioned in different places in the Torah. In the Torah Portion read next week (Masey), the borders of settlement are described which the Tribes who conquered the Land under Joshua were to divide up among themselves. In other places in the Torah, a more expanded “Nile-to-the-Euphrates” area is defined, but this is generally viewed as a promise to be fulfilled in the Messianic period. The actual “Halachic” (legal) area is that described in Masey, and it correspond to modern Israel, Lebanon, part of Syria and the western part of Jordan. The Torah recognizes Jewish rights to sovereignity in those areas. Now, you will say….some of those territories belong to other sovereign states today. This then leads to the question of how Jewish control is to be asserted over the territories promised by the Torah. Aggresive war to conquer these territories is ruled out. However, the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate recognized Jewish rights of settlement over part of these areas, and so the Torah gives us the go-ahead to fulfill our rights in these areas. Lebanon today, for instance, is a sovereign state, and if they live in peace with us, we have no problem recognizing their control over those territories. Judea/Samaria were captured in a defensive war in 1967, they had no legally recognized sovereignity over them prior to the Six-Day War so we have every right to settle those territories (while recognizing private Arab owned lands). Same with the Golan, which is also part of the Biblically-mandated territories, and which were captured in a defensive war in 1967. The Torah prohibits Jews going to places outside the boundaries it defines and setting up a state…thus the plan to set up a Jewish state in Uganda (actually Kenya) would be prohibited and it would have simply been a colonial-settler state like Rhodesia.

  22. Richard Witty-
    You stated:
    ——————————————-
    Torah does not grant unconditional Jewish sovereignty to the land, in any manner that I’m aware of.
    ——————————————-
    This is incorrect, as I understand it. Could you clarify this point?

  23. “””In other places in the Torah, a more expanded “Nile-to-the-Euphrates” area is defined,”””

    My understanding is that “Nile-to-the-Euphrates” is from the King James translation, but that was an error. The Hebrew text translated “the River of Egypt” as the Nile, but in fact the “River of Egypt” was a river near Gaza and the Negev today.

    Persons travelling to Egypt would know they had entered Egypt once they crossed it.

    Elsewhere the Hebrew text refers to “the Great River, the Euphrates” and the KJV translators wrongly thought that two different rivers were being referred to.

    Finally, the headwaters of the Euphrates are near Golan.

    Is all of the above correct?

  24. Jonathan Mark-
    The expanded borders (deferred to Messianic times) are in Genesis, promised to Abraham. The western border is “Nahar Mitzrayim” which is translated “the river of Egypt”, i.e. the Nile. In the Book of Numbers, (Maseh section), the border of the settlement of the tribes in the time of Joshua is defined on the west as “Nachal Mitzrayim” which is translated “the Brook of Egypt”. A “nachal” is much smaller than a “nahar” and many believe that this is referring to Wadi El Arish in the eastern Sinai, which is what you were referring to. This is generally considered the western halachic (legal) border of Eretz Israel by the Torah, according to most scholars, although some say it is referring to the easternmost branch of the Nile Delta. This is why there was not as much opposition to Begin giving up the Sinai as there is to the idea of giving up Judea/Samaria or the Golan among religious or traditionalist/nationalist circles in Israel.

  25. I’ll make citations later to support the conditional nature of sovereignty over the land “promised”.

    A contract is verifiable by third parties, and the parties themselves.

    In the case of Torah, the only verification for the contract is the assertion of accurate repitition of the contract by one of the parties to it. (It was conveyed at best by oral repitition and confirmation until Ezra compiled the speakings into a written body.)

    Nevertheless, God is not available to question, “Is this what you said? Is this what you had authority to convey? Is this what you meant?”

    And, there are no third party witnesses to the contract, nor any verifiable documentation affirmed by a third party.

    NOT a valid basis of assertion of either title or sovereignty over land. (Sovereignty within modern institutions is not a description of a relationship to land, but in relationship to a community.)

    Again, the prevailing politically valid concept is “consent of the governed”.

    And also again, if the chain of title is less than perfected, or worse (potentially taken by force, or fraud), what is the status of the title to current holders?

    If transferable, it is at best ambiguous. Statute (per Jonathon), nor decree, perfects that title. Compensation to valid title-holders at the beginning of the chain might.

    But, assertion that “the land is ours”, by Torah, or by statute, or by rabbinic decree, is a rationalization for personal or collective gain.

  26. Richard Witty-
    Your statement:
    ——————————————–
    Nevertheless, God is not available to question, “Is this what you said? Is this what you had authority to convey? Is this what you meant?”
    ———————————————-
    this indicates a lack of knowledge about how the Jewish halachic (legal) system works. This is not the forum for such a massive discussion. The Balfour Declaration which recognized EXCLUSIVE Jewish sovereignity in Eretz Israel (as delineated by the victorious powers after World War I which do not exactly correspond with those given in the Bible but are not that far from them except in the north) is based on the Bible. Even people who did’t accept the theological aspects of the Biblical account accepted the historical reality of the situation.
    (The Balfour Declaration recognized only civil and religious but not national rights of the non-Jewish population).

    Regarding “consent of the governed”, there is the same problem regarding Israeli Arabs inside the Green Line. They were not asked if they wanted to be Israeli citizens, it was forced on them and they by and large do not accept its legitimacy to this day. Nevertheless, this does not negate Jewish sovereignity there.

    In the end, I expect some sort of informal Israeli-Jordanian condominium to cover Judea/Samaria….Jews will live under Israeli rule and Arabs under some sort of Palestinian/Jordanian government. This will have to be informal due to the inability of the Arabs/Palestinians to reach any sort of formal peace agreement with Israel. This situation is slowly being implemented today. Hopefully, improvement in the security situation will allow for the drawing down of the Israeli security presence and freer movement of the Arab population hopefully approaching the free movement that existed during the pre-Oslo Israeli occupation when there were practically no roadblocks at all and there was free access between Gaza and Judea/Samaria. IT was Oslo and the accompanying deterioration in the security situation that brought the roadblocks and restrictions of movement on the Palestinians.

  27. Saadia Gaon and Radbaz, both from Egypt, didn’t think that Nachal Mitzrayim or Nahar Mitzrayim referred to the modern day Nile and neither do I:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brook_of_Egypt

    …the Jewish commentator Saadia Gaon who identified Nachal Mitzrayim with the wadi of El-Arish. Later Jewish commentators from Egypt, Radbaz and Kaftor Vaferech followed suit. This description did not refer to the modern locality known as El-Arish as is seen from the fact that Kaftor Vaferach places it approximately 180 km from Gaza. This is in the vicinity of the former Pelusian arm of the Nile and is thus still consistent with the traditional interpretation. The modern El-Arish in contrast lies only 77 km from Gaza.

    The Septuagint translates Nachal Mitzrayim in Isaiah 27:12 as Rhinocorura. This name and its variant Rhinocolura were used for the region in Sinai containing Pelusium and this translation is thus also consistent with the traditional interpretation. However the name was also used for a coastal town in the region lying on the road to Egypt further east. The disappearance of the Pelusian arm of the Nile led to the interpretation of the Rhinocorura of the Septuagint as the wadi providing water to this town. Pilgrims subsequently misidentified the Arab settlement at the mouth of this wadi (either identical to or near the town) with the Biblical Sukkot and the names El-Arish and Wadi El-Arish were applied to the settlement and wadi respectively.”””

  28. Y Ben -David

    Do you live in Israel? Do you remember the intifada of 1987?

    The Palestinians asserted loudly and clearly (and not just with demonstration but with discussion and press), that they were not satisfied with occupation.

    Some Palestinians have noted the same irony that you did, that prior to Oslo, they could travel relatively freely in Israel, in Palestine, in Gaza.

    You’re wrong about the “Biblical” origination of the Balfour Declaration. It emerged from a combination of sympathy for the Jewish people, having just experienced pogroms in Russia and Poland, in then recent memory the Dreyfus affair; and in strictly geo-political strategy to attract Jewish money and enlistment during WW1.

    The Balfour Declaration NEVER endorsed exclusive Jewish sovereignty in the land. It clearly conditioned ANY incremental or grand jurisdiction on political and social conditions on the ground, including how Arab residents would fare.

    Also, please don’t trivialize the discussion of sovereignty or just title, by “you don’t know halacha, I won’t talk to you”.

    Torah or halacha is impossible as a legal authority, that a third party can rely on.

    Sovereignty issues are NOT determined by such assertions.

    Sovereignty occurs by the consent of the governed, and jurisdictions are selected artfully to optimize the degree of consent in a region.

    In the land, ethnicity is also NOT necessarily the primary determinant of the mapping or form of sovereignty.

    I can easily imagine a situation in which civil-oriented Jews could determine that they prefer to self-govern with civil-oriented Palestinians, rather than either halacha or sharia.

    I’m surprised that you don’t engage the questions as to whether sovereignty over the land is conditional “IF you keep my commandments” or unconditional.

    And, I’m also surprised that you don’t engage the question of whether the purchaser of land that is acquired through less than consensual means, has perfected title to that land.

    Its a big question. One would hope that those that propose to apply Jewish law, would be motivated by sincere self-inquiry, rather than opportunistic self-rationalization.

  29. Mr. Ben-David,
    I see that you’ve migrated from APN’s The Conversation, having decided that Leonard Fein was just as bad as all those other anti-religious leftists.

    You claim that Arabs are incapable of reaching any type of formal agreement with Israel. But Egypt has had a formal peace treaty with Israel since 1979 and Jordan with Israel since 1994. In fact a treaty with Syria might be only a few years in the future. Do you just ignore these agreements because they don’t fit into your reality?

    Actually the British government issued the Balfour Declaration because they believed the anti-semites propaganda about the great influence of the Jews. They thought that American Jewry could deliver a powerful American participation in the war and keep Russia in the war. Congress had already declared war on Germany and America went to war in style. Although many senior Bolsheviks were Jews, they were neither religious nor Zionists. So the British had to settle for having a friendly ethnic group in a land adjacent to the lines of imperial communications. But the strife between Arabs and Jews soon made this motive passe.

    Christian Zionism and the reading of the Bible by Protestant British leaders certainly influenced the Balfour Declaration, but it is nowhere in the terms of the Declaration or the British mandate.

  30. Tom Mitchell-
    It was Leonard Fine who banned me. Obviously, what I was saying was disturbing to him. As he said, he wanted to keep the discussion “within the (progressive) family”.

    Richard Witty-

    You stated:
    —————————————-
    You’re wrong about the “Biblical” origination of the Balfour Declaration. It emerged from a combination of sympathy for the Jewish people, having just experienced pogroms in Russia and Poland, in then recent memory the Dreyfus affair; and in strictly geo-political strategy to attract Jewish money and enlistment during WW1.
    ——————————————–

    This is quite true. But how do you explain then the British giving Palestine to the Jews? They could have done what the so-called “Jewish Territorialists” of the time wanted…given the Jews a piece of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Eastern Europe where the great bulk of Jews were living at the time. What right did they have to give Palestine to the Jews if they didn’t recognize the Jewish people’s Biblical claims? The borders of the Palestine Mandate were negotiated between Chaim Weizmann and other Zionists and the British government. They originally closely matched the borders outlined in the Torah, except in the north (Lebanon). Of course, later, once the war was over and the British didn’t need Jewish support , they begin to whittle the borders down.
    Weizmann and the other Zionist leaders of the time were by and large atheists/agnostics but they ackknowledged the historical claim of the Jewish people which is indeed based on the Bible.

    Of course, progressive Zionists of the time also used the argument that the Jews would develop the country more effectively than the Arabs, and while this is true, it is no longer accepted as a basis for national identity…otherwise Ian Smith’s white regime would still be in power in Rhodesia…his people certainly ran the country better than Mugabe’s.

    Regarding the Halachic matters…I am not claiming that it is the basis for running international affairs, there are international norms for carrying out relations between nations. However, for the internal Jewish discussion about how to administer the territories Israel controls, defining areas for settlement, etc, it is still valid. As I said there are ways of utilizing halachic methods in the modern world…if you are interested, see volumes 1 and 2 of Rabbi J David Bleich’s books “Contemporary Halachic Issues”. He deals at great length about the questions of Israel’s borders, rights of settlement, relations with a hostile non-Jewish population, etc.

    You said:
    —————————————
    The Balfour Declaration NEVER endorsed exclusive Jewish sovereignty in the land. It clearly conditioned ANY incremental or grand jurisdiction on political and social conditions on the ground, including how Arab residents would fare.

    —————————————–
    I beg to differ with you. A plain reading of it grants Jews exclusive national rights, while respecting the CIVIL and RELIGIOUS rights of the non-Jewish population. Obviously, the sovereign Jewish power has to recognize those rights (property, culture, justice) but no mention is made of NATIONAL rights in those territories.

    Now, I can understand people who say “yes, we do have intrinsic national rights in all of the territories controlled by Israel today, including Judea/Samaria, but since there is a large non-Jewish population there, we should be pragmatic and divide the territory”. This is a proposal worthy of consideration, and I respect those who hold it, even though I don’t agree with it. The reason is that the territory can not be divided and this is because the Arabs do not recognize ANY Jewish rights to sovereignity over ANY part of what they consider to be Palestine. Oslo was an attempt to do this with some sort of agreement with the Palestinians and it failed miserably. The next attempt was to impose a division unilaterally, (the withdrawal from Gaza), and this failed miserably as well. The fact is that no contractural peace with the Palestinians is possible, so the most that can be hoped for is a modus-vivendi, but this will only occur once Israel STOPS making territorial concessions and instead insists that pragmatic arrangements be made on the ground. This is the condominium idea I mentioned above. It will never be formal, the Arabs could never agree to it formally, but once they realize that they are never going to get rid of Israel, they will EVENTUALLY come to the realization that they should try to improve the lives of their people. However it will take a long time even to get to this, for as long as Islamic extremism is in the ascendancy, as it is today, the Arabs will keep deluding themselves that Israel is about to go under, as HIZBULLAH and HAMAS proudly trumpet every day and they will try to keep up the pressure.

    The “peace agreement” with Egypt is a fraud. Anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda in Egypt is just a virulent there as it is in countries that do not have “peace agreements” with Israel, such as Syria or Saudi Arabia. Egypt carries out a proxy war with Israel by arming HAMAS in the Gaza Strip. They have the best of both worlds, they claim they have “peace” with Israel which gives them $2 Billion a year in aid from the US, while they carry on their proxy war at the same time through the Gaza Stip. You can’t say that Mubarak isn’t a good maneuverer.

    The bottom line is: If Jews have a right to live in Tel Aviv, they have a right to live in Hevron. If they have no right to live in Hevron, they have no right to live in Tel Aviv.

  31. “What right did they have to give Palestine to the Jews if they didn’t recognize the Jewish people’s Biblical claims?”

    They were responding to feeling, NOT to implied authority. You derive exagerated commitment from the Balfour declaration, beyond what Balfour Commission itself offered, beyond what the British clarified over four decades, beyond what the Balfour Commission had the authority to commit on the part of the British government – in perpetuity.

    The British government made similarly authoritative commitments to Arab groups, at approximately the same time.

    And, later, when oil became such a geo-political concern, they attempted at times to entirely renounce the Balfour commitment.

    What halachic authority do you believe affirms Jewish right to take title (through indirect means) to land that others have resided on sufficiently to affirm title in all conventional definitions?

    “The bottom line is: If Jews have a right to live in Tel Aviv, they have a right to live in Hevron. If they have no right to live in Hevron, they have no right to live in Tel Aviv.”

    This is a FALSE assertion. Jews have the right to live peacably in London, Brooklyn, San Francisco, New Orleans, Paris, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, and if peaceably, in Hevron, IF they acquire their ownership or leasehold according to law.

    If Jews were not permitted to live in Hevron (which they should if peaceable, whomever is sovereign), then that would be a civil injustice, but not a violation of Torah and not the all-or-nothing assertion that you make. If the Jews that reside in Hevron, do not do so peaceably, then regardless of whether you assert that Torah gives them that authority in perpetuity, their behavior deprives that authority.

    Similarly to your argument regarding the possibility of contractual agreement with the Palestinians (you have the audacity to predict the future?), there historically has been no period in which the Jewish community has been able to covenant with God.

    Consider that the only time that God and the Hebrews covenanted, consented, was at Sinai “we consent”. And, a short period later, the consent was broken in the incident of the Golden Calf, and G-d said “I’ve had it with you people. You are not capable of keeping a promise”. (A summary). And Moses appealed to God, “give them another chance, they’re only human”.

    We do NOT become a nation of priests, by willingly accepting being a beneficiary of force and fraud. If we accept title to property, or affirm sovereignty over a jurisdiction (originating in the consent of the governed, the PEOPLE, not the land), we have to have a high personal bar of criteria of whether we’ve done just and holy work, or merely rationalized abuse for our own gain.

    A HIGH BAR, that’s if we are to live by Torah, and not by rationalization, individual and collective.

  32. Richard Witty said:
    —————————————-
    We do NOT become a nation of priests, by willingly accepting being a beneficiary of force and fraud. If we accept title to property, or affirm sovereignty over a jurisdiction (originating in the consent of the governed, the PEOPLE, not the land), we have to have a high personal bar of criteria of whether we’ve done just and holy work, or merely rationalized abuse for our own gain.
    ——————————————-

    Who says our presence in Hevron is based on “force and fraud”? I think you had better brush up on your knowledge of the history of Israel.
    Then what about Tel Aviv University (a “progressive” institution, if there ever was one)? It is sitting on the land now called Ramat Aviv that belonged to the Arab village of Sheikh Munis. Those Arabs who owned the land there are probably now in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. TAU never paid them a dime for it. I have no problem with it, the Arabs started the war and paid the price for their aggression (just like the Sudeten Germans after World War II), but how do YOU justify TAU’s possession of that property. Is that “force and fraud”?

  33. TAU or the Israeli government should compensate for the forceful taking.

    Thats if Israel wants to live by law, rather than force and fraud.

    Some in Hevron have title by purchase and extended periods of ownership.

    Some have appropriated property by force, fear of force, or fraud.

    Take the time to site Torah to justify your claims, and/or acknowledge that Torah is only sufficient to define a commitment between God and Jews, and not a sovereignty in the sense of any possible third party acknowledgement.

    At some point, law will prevail over rationalization.

    It is the time to work to perfect title, so that any claims of title are mutually accepted.

    The state will not stand by settlers’ decrees indefinitely. And, religious Jews will not stand by settlers’ Torah revision indefinitely.

  34. Richard Witty-
    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but the opinions you state are similar to those given by the Eda Haredit/Satmar religious anti-Zionists. These are a minority even within the Haredi (so-called “Ultra-Orthodox”) world. What you are stating is essentially that the creation of the state of Israel was a crime. This puts you outside the realm of Zionist discourse in Israel.

  35. Y Ben-David,
    Your view that individuals may take property by force or by opportunistic transfers from annexed “state land”, is outside the range of those that suggest that a nation is only a nation if it adopts rule of “law”.

    That assertion, that Israel functions under the rule of law, is a foundation of its acceptance in the international world. To remove that foundation, removes its legal justification, which it duly has currently. Rather than having earned its statehood, its right to self-govern, it will only have the fringe interpretations by a few rabbis for support, on very questionable religious and thinner political basis.

    You also should study the history of orthodox thought on Zionism.

    The assertion that Torah permitted the settlement movement to use the state as a means to take property rights from Palestinian residents/owners, is a revision of Torah, a rationalization for opportunism.

    Do you understand the inconsistency between rule of law as it applies to title, and the utter unverifiability of Torah based title claims?

    And, do you understand the inconsistency of a description of sovereignty that is determined solely by land, and not as consent of the governed (people)?

    Torah is best understood and taught when it successfully bridges the inspirational and/or deeply authoritative with the rational. The things that happen in the world are then a subset of the spiritual.

    When opportunism is adopted using Torah as justification, Torah becomes fringe (the subset), an exception to reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.