American foreign policy American Jews Arab-Israeli conflict Barack Obama Benjamin Netanyahu Dan Fleshler Israel Israeli occupation Israeli settlements J Street Palestinians Transforming America's Israel Lobby

What else Netanyahu needs to know about Obama

The following op-ed just went on-line and will be in Friday’s Haaretz. I’ve been waiting about 25 years to be able write something like this and actually believe it.

Something else Netanyahu should know

By Dan Flesher

Even before President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech last week, there were reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers were surprised by the president’s insistence that Israel stop all settlement construction. Now, as Netanyahu prepares his own speech on the Arab-Israeli conflict, he should be careful not to misjudge the situation yet again by misreading what stands behind Obama’s Middle East policies. The American president’s approach to the region is based on more than the lofty ideals and calculations of U.S. strategic interests that have been attributed to him by international media; it is also the product of shrewd political judgment.

Obama might sound like a thoughtful university professor, but he and his closest aides are pragmatists who were schooled in the hard-knuckled politics of Chicago. They have obviously decided that the president’s quest for a new relationship with the Muslim world, along with his harsh criticism of Israeli settlement activity, offers potential political rewards that exceed the risks by a large margin.

As he plans his policy speech, Netanyahu would do well to also consider American voters, not just their president. According to a recent poll by Zogby International, 50 percent of those voters think that, given previous American calls for a halt to Israeli settlement construction, the U.S. should “get tough” with Israel. More importantly, 71 percent of Americans who voted for Obama feel that way and 89 percent of them say the conflict negatively affects U.S. interests. Obama’s political base is losing patience with the settlement enterprise and thinks it harms the United States.

Those voters include most American Jews, and that is another reason why Obama’s stance is politically astute. Netanyahu should not have been surprised by a survey published in March showing that six out of 10 American Jews were opposed to settlement expansion, or that most supported U.S. engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even if it meant publicly disagreeing with or pressuring both sides. Those responses were consistent with many earlier surveys. But there was a fascinating new statistic buried in the results of that March poll, which was sponsored by J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel lobby group: Seventy-two percent of U.S. Jews who are active political donors oppose Israeli settlement construction. So, if Obama remains steadfast on the settlements, he is unlikely to lose many contributors and will in fact please quite a few.

The Obama team’s calculations also include an accurate reading of Jewish organizational tea leaves. They understand that the president is unlikely to encounter massive American Jewish opposition if he keeps pressing hard for the settlement enterprise to stop, as long as he is clearly committed to meeting Israel’s core security requirements and pushes the Palestinians to halt violence and incitement.

The most important group in the conventional pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is terrified of a confrontation with a wildly popular Democratic president whose party controls Congress. AIPAC’s leaders only pick the fights they think they can win; they know they would lose if they found themselves trying to justify new apartment buildings in occupied territory.

It is unclear whether Netanyahu’s Israeli advisors understood all this when he took office. What is clear is that he got good advice from American Jewish leaders and he ignored it. “Pro-Israel American Jews have been telling Netanyahu that he has to do something about the settlements, and that if he came out for a two-state solution, relations would be easier,” Ron Kampeas, the well-connected Washington reporter for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency told me. Another source familiar with Netanyahu said, “His record shows that he believes he is the master of America-Israel relations and no one knows America better than he does.”

If he does know America, he will realize that the days when Likud prime ministers could use American Jewish groups, Christian Zionists and Congress to subvert the wishes of U.S. presidents are long gone. As are the days when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seemed like a distant feud with little impact on the American people. Now, progress toward resolving it is clearly a national security imperative, and Obama’s voters – and, indeed, most Americans – know it.

When describing Obama, the media adhere to the Great Man Theory of History, which gives individual leaders primary credit for transforming the world. They treat him like a rock star, or the herald of a new age. But Netanyahu should not rely on that theory as he tries to figure out how to respond to the American president. Obama is a charismatic leader, but he is also expressing popular will. He is both the cause and the result of a widespread American yearning for peace and stability in the Middle East.

That is why Netanyahu should know that if he makes empty promises and tries to wriggle out of a profound disagreement with the U.S. over the settlements, he will risk insulting and angering not only the American president but also a large swath of the American people. It is hard to believe most Israelis – or American Jews – would want him to take that risk for the sake of unimpeded growth, “natural” or otherwise, in the West Bank.

Dan Fleshler, a New York media and public-affairs consultant, is the author of “Transforming America’s Israel Lobby: The Limits of Its Power and the Potential for Change,” published last month by Potomac Books.

98 thoughts on “What else Netanyahu needs to know about Obama

  1. (1) True, Obama comes from the “hard knuckle world of Chicago politics”, but then again, Netanyahu comes from the “hard knuckle world of Israeli politics” which is a LOT tougher. Netanyahu has also been around a lot longer than Obama.
    (2) Dan says:
    They understand that the president is unlikely to encounter massive American Jewish opposition if he keeps pressing hard for the settlement enterprise to stop, as long as he is clearly committed to meeting Israel’s core security requirements and pushes the Palestinians to halt violence and incitement.
    Note the “as long as” clause. Tell me, how is he going to “push” the Palestinians to halt violence (good, Dan, you are learning, Obama has taught there is no more “terrorism”) and incitement? You state it if this is some sort of minor matter. No one else has succeeded in this, why should Obama, considering that he is viewed as more pro-Arab (and I mean this in the “zero-sum-game” sense of the Arab/Israeli conflict) than his predecessor? What’s he gong to say when Abbas tells him that the Palestinians have “freedom of the press” and he “doesn’t control what they print in their media?”.

    This posting contains the usual obsession with the settlements that Jewish progressives have (their old need to assuage their guilt feelings for supporting Israel taking Arab land in the 1948 war). In reality the settlements are a minor issue because in the “solution that everyone knows the terms of” the settlements are supposed to go anyway. Even if Netanyahu were to agree to this (which would be political suicide for him) how would that advance the “peace process”? It would just make the Arabs toughen their demands further.

  2. “No one else has succeeded in this…”

    Militarism has its limits…but you would think most observant people have learned that lesson by now, except Y.Ben-David.

    “Even if Netanyahu were to agree to this (which would be political suicide for him) how would that advance the “peace process”? It would just make the Arabs toughen their demands further.”

    Domination. Pure and simple. I will agree though that the settlements are of lesser importance as opposed to Zionism itself. That’s the major issue. Y.Ben-David does expose the liberal faux pas of pressuring against settlement now when they supported it when Israel was born.

  3. Your Haaretz article reference actually ends up supporting Palestinian claims more than Israeli.

    And, that is because it emphasizes a PAST status as more legally compelling than a current one. Both the “our ancestors lived here” claims describes a reasonable desire to live where our ancestors lived, but NOT a right to.

    A right to live somewhere is by property right, which results from consent of a reasonable person derived from appropriate process to acquire title to property. If a property was legally purchased from a formerly consented owner, then the property rights are transferred.

    If the title to property is contested, by a reasonable person test conducted in a color-blind manner, then it does not magically get to a status of consented by decree or ancestral sentiment.

    Be motivated to purchase land. Wonderful. Help it along. Raise funds. Appeal to people’s imaginations to similarly be motivated to purchase land and even settle. Wonderful.

    But, you have to test property rights in courts, in which all claimants have the functional, more than just theoretical, right to their day in court. If the conditions of open and equal access to the courts is not in force, the courts become invalid, even as they may (or not) serve the favored population.

    They end up conflicting with the Israeli fundamental laws, which provide for equal due process. It is very serious, and is parallel to the directly discrimminatory Jim Crow laws, and their later functionally discrimminatory counterparts. (Functionally discrimminatory refers to laws that are on the surface rational, but in fact are enacted to intentionally disrimminate.)

  4. And that is a great tragedy.

    Israel should experience much more cognitive dissonance. Its a badge of shame that injustice effects people so insignificantly.

  5. Richard-
    All I can say is that you are in total disconnect with Israel and the people who live there. Oslo gave the Palestinians a golden opportunity for state and the expulsion of most of the Jews from Judea/Samaria. YES, what Israel offered was not 100% of what they were demanding. So instead of making a counteroffer, they launched their bloody suicide bomber offenseive which killed or wounded thousands of Israelis (including not a few Arabs). So now the Palestinians are moaning and whining about what victims they are. This is their choice. They now assume that Obama is going to deliver Israel for them. Israelis understand this, they understand that Obama is hostile to Israel, and that no matter what Israel offers it will never be enough (“progressive” former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami who dealt with them at Camp David and Taba confirms this). This is the reality.

  6. The present is most important. Oslo was in 1994, 15 years ago. I agree with you that Arafat should have counter-offered.

    The present is cruel, and the settlements are a large component of the cruelty, especially in the very strategic placement and expansion.

    You haven’t addressed the legality of the settlement title, except to resort to the rule of decree.

    I have a clue, but not intimate knowledge of what Israeli life is like.

    “It will never be enough”, also describes the Israeli strategy, otherwise the “natural growth” of the settlements would not be an issue.

    Israel uses the settlements to expand its jurisdiction. It really has little to do with defense, except to protect the settlements. But that is a tiger chasing its tale, fast, and expending a great deal of energy.

    I wish there were some element of the issue that you would plainly acknowledge is a contradiction, even if you continue to conclude what you do.

    That is one of the elements that I criticize the far left about, that they are a conclusion in search of principles, in search of reasoning.

    In that regard the Israeli approach is consistent with the radical Palestinian, that the control of the land is what won’t be compromised. Not law, not ethics, not Torah, not hope, not character.

    Its good to have backbone, to have intelligence to support it. Its better to have backbone to accomplish some good, rather than opportunity only.

  7. Dan–great op-ed. I agree with your assessment of Obama’s political style. I think you figured him out.

    My only concern is over-appeasement toward the Muslim world–which is not exactly the most politically stable sector right now. However, I’m willing to see where he takes this and what results he gets.

  8. The Israelis need a good incentive to freeze those settlements. A carrot would probably work better than a stick.

    That seems to be the missing element, imo.

  9. Joshua wrote: “Domination. Pure and simple. I will agree though that the settlements are of lesser importance as opposed to Zionism itself. That’s the major issue. Y.Ben-David does expose the liberal faux pas of pressuring against settlement now when they supported it when Israel was born.”

    I’m guessing you have a narrow definition of zionism but regardless…how is it a problem if expansion stops?

    You just don’t think Israel should exist, it sounds like…and that’s an irrational pov in the real world.

  10. Mr. Ben-David,

    You start out by assuming that the Arabs will never want peace under any circumstances and then construct the evidence to fit your conclusion. Not the way that impartial investigations are supposed to be conducted, but the way that emotionally-invested partial investigations usually are.

    I’m sure that if the United States is to conclude peace in the Middle East, or at least in the Arab-Israeli conflict–a small part of that, it will involve going against the reality of what people think in both Israel and Palestine and much of the wider Arab world.

    Your thinking is akin to that of a Czarist minister thinking that it would do no good to treat the Jews decently as “they are all socialist or Bolshevik and anti-Russian in any case.” This type of thinking presupposes that people aren’t willing to forgive what they perceive as past injustices if injustice is ended in the present.

  11. Suzanne, you are bereft of logistics here. Just because I (and that should be emphasised) believe something is illegitimate such as reprehensible ideologies such as capitalism, neoliberalism, nationalism, patriotism and all their similarities (yes, even Arab nationalism despite the fact that it is intertwined with liberation and revolution), does not mean it is “irrational”, I don’t think that is close to the point at all. Now I don’t want to get into so many specifics here as that would be a 10000 word essay but Zionism’s problems is not limited to “expansion”, which is totally ironic since expansion was what led to it having a state in the first place, one which pretty much the rest of the world does not believe should exist but guess what, Israel still does and a lot of countries who want nothing to do with the Israelis end up doing backend deals behind the cameras. Rhetoric versus pragmatism, it is usually the pragmatism that wins out.

    There are a great deal of complications here and the settlements is only a smidgen of what is a Pandora’s box thanks to the creation of Israel (amongst other factors too). For instance, the two-state solution has so many losing parties (Y.Ben-David for one) that there are going to push and shove to get which outcome suits them. You actually think Zionism could survive even under a two-state system? I know many liberals want to “save” Israel but what are they really trying to “save” them from? The occupied territories? It’s almost as if that they think everything is rosy in Israel proper, it is not and Zionism is the main throttle that privileges one over the other. What would happen when they envision another threat to the “Jewishness” of the state?

    PS I don’t think a lot of states today should exist but that’s another topic altogether.

  12. “Liberation” and “revolution” is also partly how it is marketed, branded.

    Partially true, partially more suppressive and exploitative than what it is objecting to.

  13. I think states are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

    What’s more interesting and relevant to talk about, imo, is that the fossil fuel era is at the beginning of its twilight.

    That will be a serious loss of revenue for most of the ME…plus having to deal with the ravages of climate change.

    The Arabs better get cracking.

  14. The fossil fuel twilight period will be a long one.

    In spite of a year of $3.50 – $4.25/gallon gasoline, not much has changed in the US as far as transportation alternatives, even ride-sharing. Similarly for space heating.

    All solvable by cooperation, conservation and moderate capital investment.

    We’re a very lazy nation. Focused and industrious and yet asleep at the same time.

  15. The facts are this. The Arabs have been offered a state multiple times. They say NO!!!!!!. And Jews like Dan, Phil, Rich, and the rest of the boys want the west bank, Jerusalem, and the Golan heights cleansed of Jews. These are facts. And they also want Hamas, and by extension Iran, sitting on the west bank ridge line hitting the coastal areas with missiles. These are facts. Dan I would welcome your response on any of this. The only thing I give you is that you don’t take pleasure in the deaths of little Jewish girls like Weiss and Silverstein.

  16. Bill,
    Your anger is an addiction.

    If you ever study military history, EVERY military position that you could ever have would be exposed. Thats how every empire feels compelled to eliminate another enemy, another exposed position.

    But, there are multiple ways to construct security, beyond taking over every piece of land on periphery of one’s borders. One strategy, likely the best, is to negotiate, to treaty, to define mutually verifiable conditions as terms, to keep them oneself and convey incrementally objections to violations of the other.

    In Israel’s case, that has been the difference between prior to 1967, four hundred miles or so of frontier in a state of war, to less than 200. That is until Israel adopted the maze of settlement construction and wall, that increased the frontier dramatically for the odd shape of the implied border.

    It is LESS defensible than the 67 borders, and unless you regard the river to sea as possible (I don’t for logistic, moral, legal, and political reasons), the 67 borders are the most defensible of any option.

    Its a twist of the term “self-interest”, to regard the Napoleanic need to expand to cover one’s flank as the only option possible.

  17. You risk throwing out the treaties with Egypt and Jordan, by your logic and urging. You propose going backward.

  18. Rich:
    The high ground is important, vital, always has been. Your guys advocate putting Hamas up there, armed by Iran. It’s an untenable position. Not to mention emptying East Jerusalem of Jews and giving up access to the western wall and the temple mount. Look, the pullouts from gaza and south lebanon were test cases. Total withdrawal and it was followed up by attacks. When Israel responded your troika, DAn, Phil, And Rich went nuts. So explain to me why Israel should do this. What’s in in for them. What’s being offered. And not pie in the sky. What is being offered. And before you bring up the Saudi proposal let me bring up two salient points. Why wasn’t that offered directly to Israel in the form of an official proposal brought by an official envoy to jerusalem. And why is the”right of return” enshrined in it. Last but not least. Your buddy Phil takes pleasure in the deaths of Jews, what is the story there?

  19. “Why wasn’t that offered directly to Israel in the form of an official proposal brought by an official envoy to jerusalem.”

    It was. King Abdullah of Jordan was in Jerusalem what, 20 times in the last 6 years? (More than I visit my mother.)

    You are lying that Phil takes pleasure in the deaths of Jews. You have NO prospect of convincing rational people by lying.

    “Putting Hamas up “there””? What does that mean? What do you mean by “there”?

    You do get the dilemma of defending the maze? Even from the perspective of defense, it weakens Israel to have to spend the money, IDF time and equipment, political capital, character.

  20. Not to hijack the topic (although it does seem to be one continuous debate on settlements) but…

    Richard…we may not have a choice in abandoning fossil fuels a lot sooner than we care to. A lot of scientists project that we are about 8-15 years away from the tipping point.

    Bats are going extinct here in New England. Honey bees aren’t doing so well either…and there’a mass extinction going on globally–something like 1/3-1/2 of animal species.

    Israelis are already thinking green while the Palestinians are playing russian roulette with their physical survival. Their political survival is going to be irrelevant if they don’t get cracking. That’s how I see it.

  21. Richard-
    We have beaten the question of whether the settlements are “legal” to death and I don’t propose renewing a back-and-forth “yes they are, no their aren’t” series of comments.
    For the last time: THEY ARE LEGAL. The Israeli government and court system says they are legal. A friend of mine attending law school in Israel has said numerous Leftist professors of law who oppose the settlements say they are legal. The US State Department international law department said they are legal, although a pain in the neck.
    YES, I know many people say they are illegal, but as long as the sources I stated above said they are legal, that is good enough for me.

  22. I have been pointing out for a long time that the Palestinians are not interested in a state. Recently, PA leader Abbas said that the situation in Judea/Samaria is “GOOD” (that is the word he used) and so he can wait the couple of years that he thinks it will take for Obama to bring down Netanyahu.
    So now, read this column by Malley and Agha (the fellows who spread the claim that the reason Arafat didn’t agree to peace with Barak was Barak’s fault) who now also back up what I am saying:

    Note the following quote which is a direct response to Olmert’s and Livni’s pleas that “it is in Israel’s interest to create a Palestinian state as soon as possible”:


    Universal endorsement has its downside. The more the two-state solution looks like an American or Western, not to mention Israeli, interest, the less it appeals to Palestinians. It is hard to generate excitement among Palestinians for a project explicitly aimed at protecting the interests of their historic foe (Israel), defeating one of their political organizations (Hamas), or rescuing pro-Western Arab regimes for which they evince little sympathy. Many Palestinians feel that the notion of statehood has been hijacked by their historic detractors who rejected it when it was briefly a Palestinian idea only to endorse it when they made it their own. The process of legitimizing a state in international eyes has helped discredit it in those of its intended beneficiaries.


    The article finally ends up pointing out that it is not enough for the mechanics of the “peace process” and the infrastructure of a “Palestinian state” be in place, but that the US now must change the entire mental state of the Middle East so that they view the US as being ‘pro-Arab’ instead of ‘pro-Israel’. Certainly Obama is trying to do that, by making a start with his speech. How long will it take? How will the US show that it is pro-Arab and not pro-Israel in order to mobilize this good will that it is suppsoed to generate? Decades? Centuries? Sanctions on Israel?

  23. YBD:
    Thank you for bringing to my attention a very interesting article. To paraphrase Marshal McCuen (?) “the messenger is the message.” What Agha and Malley are arguing is that in a zero-sum environment any idea that is supported or proposed by your enemy is immediately discredited. I can attest to this. In Northern Ireland Sinn Fein signed on to what was essentially a strategic surrender for the republican cause. They were agreeing to a partitionist solution rather than a united Ireland. But instead of treating it like a defeat they treated it like a victory and danced in celebration. This caused the uneducated working-class loyalists to believe that somehow the Good Friday Agreement was bad for them and that they had lost the peace. This performance ultimately killed off the two centrist parties and led to the two extremist parties dividing the carcass of Northern Ireland.

    I’m very skeptical of his approach–he seems to advocate trying to satisfy everyone. But his talk is of treating the emotions of the conflict rather than with just the cold rational positions. Sadat did this by coming to Jerusalem. Assad refused to make any gestures towards Israel when Rabin and Barak were in power and so as a result he got no agreement–which might have been his intention all along.

    Unfortunately in terms of leaders having the credibility to sell agreements we were much better off when both Arafat and Sharon were in power. But neither really had much of an interest in peace. Arafat seemed to be mainly interested in a temporary breathing space to regenerate the PLO and reestablish his control over it. Sharon wanted to be able to crush the PLO. As they point out in the article, neither the Israeli government nor Abbas seems to have much interest in or much ability to sell peace. Which is why I advocate working mainly on the Syrian track.

  24. Thomas-
    Do you think Assad can be persuaded to go against the Arab consensus and cut his own deal with Israel, as Sadat did?

  25. Yakov,
    We’ve not beaten the question of the settlements, because you’ve not addressed the question of law, whether consent is fulfilled by the “reasonable man” test (not the “reasonable Israeli”).

    Noone KNOWS if they are legal or not, because they have not seen the light of day of a court system in which contesting parties can present their evidence to a color-blind judge.

    You repeat decrees as a basis of law. It is not successful. The title of much of the land that settlements reside is rationally contested, NOT consented.

    Ceasing settlement expansion is a palatable and frankly necessary action to take now. There is no objective basis for insisting on it that I see, short of the assertion that all of the land is Israeli and Israelis’, and that Israel is pursuing a gradual annexation policy.

  26. I thought that article was very interesting, Yaakov!

    My sense was that while the authors made it very clear what the Palestinians don’t want–it’s still hard to understand what they DO want. Leaving it open to interpretation, I suppose.

    As for the idea of a peace proposal being rejected when accepted by the enemy…that’s a reactive stance–and furthers the notion that you’re dealing with emotionally & politically immature players.

    Good luck with that.

    I guess that gives us a good clue as to why the US has a different tack in achieving post-war peace. I’m talking WW2 here.

    You can’t really get peace unless the enemy REALLY REALLY wants it.

    Shoulda woulda coulda been taken care of immediately after ’67.

    I guess the Israelis didn’t read the Arabs’ threshold for discomfort accurately. They underestimated.

    How badly do the both sides want peace today? I probably know the answer about the Palestinians. How about the Israelis though?

    Everybody else wants peace, which is irrelevant. How badly do the 2 parties want peace?

  27. Richard-
    I am not an expert in international law. I am not qualified to argue this on a professional basis. All I know is that people who are far more knowledgable than me say there is no problem. Period. In any event, what difference does it make? In the “solution that everyone knows the terms of, the settlements would go anyway, and since you seem to believe that this is going to come eventually (I don’t) then you should have nothing to worry about.

  28. Suzanne-
    What’s hard to understand about what the Palestinians want? They want to get rid of Israel. They say so every day.

    Did you read about Phil Weiss’ trip to Gaza? They told him that the solution to their problems is to return to their homes in what is now Israel. They have no future in the Gaza Strip yet any conceivable peace plan acceptable to the US or Europe or Israel leaves them stuck there, which is what the Arab world intended when it isolated the Palestinian, so that it would be an endless source of friction with Israel.

  29. Phil finally made his trip to Gaza???

    I suppose that shaped his malleable opinion as to whether Israel should continue to exist or not.

    I can’t go to his site without getting a stomach ache–so I don’t go there.

    The Palestinians are one of history’s big losers. They’ve wasted everyone’s time and money–and if they’re still around in 75 years, I have to wonder if they’ll still be known as Palestinians.

    I feel badly for the individuals who want to just live their lives–they are the true tragedy in all this. Sad.

    If I were Palestinian, I’d get out.

  30. Mr Witty,

    I have read some of your writings on three web sites now and I feel you can present your views in a compelling manner. I am unable to match clarity of word, so if you could humor me I would be most grateful. The reason I am addressing you is that only judging from the portions of your opinion I have read, I find your

    I don’t have time to post in detail right this minute (I am going to attend a book discussion with Mr Fleshler in my area, and I need to finish putting up the posts for my privacy fence before I leave), but I would like to say something and welcome your comment for later. Are you of the opinion that Israeli courts are not robust enough on the issue of non-Israeli Arab property rights? None of the planned communities where Israelis are free to live were built without careful consideration of non-Israeli land ownership and compensation offered for titled private property. To color these communities, the ones commonly referred to in the derogatory term as “settlements” as cruel is a gross mischaracterization.

    The document that created the 1948 demarcation line between the Arabs of Hashemite occupied East Palestine (known as trans-Jordan at the time) and Israel clearly stated that “The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.” The point being that if you agree that the land is in dispute, you must also agree that Arab settlers must stop building, including natural growth to remain impartial. The argument that Arabs lived inside of the disputed land does not hold weight to the “reasonable man” test as you put it. The land is disputed, but leans toward Israeli ownership by way of the accepted doctrine of acquisition of rights, (once a right has been granted, ie the right to settle on state land, that right can not be taken without a day in court or another binding treaty that removes it, even if the instrument that gave the right has expired). So this begs the question, do you see the hundreds of Arab settlements that have sprang up on the same disputed land as cruel and as impediments to peace? If not, do you agree that a truly neutral observer should place your own characterizations in a new light?

    From what little I have read, Mr Witty, I have found you to be quite rational. I am looking forward to discussing your views on this issue.


  31. Rich, I’m not lying. Phil Weiss takes joy and pleasure in the deaths of Jews, particularly children. I have his writings to back me up. Not to mention his fan base. They are irrefutable. Richard Silverstein thinks that Samir Kuntar is a good man. And the little Jewish girl that he smashed against the rocks, deserved it. Your buddy is has bad as anybody in Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad. And you know it. It’s only too bad that his mother didn’t abort him or miscarry back in the day.

  32. Yakov,
    International law is what Norman Finkelstein refers to, and regards general assembly and world court recommendations, and his assessment of what is “obvious” from the opinions of international human rights organizations.

    I differ with him. I know that statements by the ICJ are recommendations to prosecute (not a conviction), and similarly statements by Human Rights Watch are opinions, important ones but not a legal determination. Similarly, resulotions passed by the general assembly but not ratified by the security council are not international law yet.

    I’m talking about the law of title, which varies in application from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in all civil applications include the concept that perfecting title is a legal process of realizing CONSENT from what had been CONTESTED. Obviously, by decree, civil legal process is subverted. Israeli decree the prohibits Palestinians’ day in court. Palestinian decree that prohibits similar.

    Anyone that “knows better than yourself” that regards Israeli statements that individual tracts of land are at a status of consented rather than contested, is lying to you. Settlements are mostly constructed on rationally contested land. (There are some that are constructed on land for which there is a perfected chain of title.)

    I favor the political conclusion that does NOT require forced removal of settlers or of Palestinians, but residence as minorities in a state in which they have full civil rights, but not dual citizenship.

    It makes the religious questions of “living in the land of Eretz Yisroel” one that may be thought of, but without the presumption of Eretz Yisroel (river to sea) as a state jurisdiction. The Biblical origination or promise is an INVALID basis of political sovereignty. Political sovereignty derives from “consent of the governed”. (That word again, “CONSENT”).

    Yakov and Pearlman consistently misrepresent Phil’s comments and views. They are right that he is very critical of Israel and flirts with ideas presented “idealistically” by Palestinian and leftist activists. But, statements like “he desires Jews to die” are innaccurate, malevolently so. Those that post on his site, are not him.

    On courts. There is a similar dilemma to questions of whether Arafat should have accepted the Taba or Camp David proposals. That is, to my mind, the Israeli courts are the most consistent and based on civil law in the region, but that their application currently is too inconsistent to resolve land title questions to a level of consent, especially in applying their “constitutional” (Fundamental Laws) values of equal due process under the law.

    They have the potential, but defense and loyalty, as primary values OVER law, make the ice not quite melt (if you get my metaphor).

    Reform is needed. The significance of law is that the rules in place usually come back to bite. The same logic that supports one’s advantage now, also supports one’s disadvantage in the future.

    BOTH Israelis and Palestinians, and especially very verbose activists, should note that.
    Specifically, the rule by nationalist decree, burns everybody rather than protects.

    You must be a plant. Only a fool would misinterpret your contribution for any content. When you insult Phil in those terms (rather than rational terms of content), you insult me. I hope your intention isn’t to provoke me to anti-Zionist perspective to protect the world against your logic.

  33. “There is a similar dilemma to questions of whether Arafat should have accepted the Taba or Camp David proposals. ”

    The parellel that I meant was that the proposal was better than had been offered previously, but was objectively “not good enough” in the extreme division of the land into isolated sectors, rather than any viable jurisdiction. (I’m sure the questions of Jerusalem and of right of return were knotty, but I understood that the PA and Israel had regarded those questions as resolvable, whereas the viability of Palestine with the maze intact, was impossible.)

  34. Richard,

    Thanks for responding. I have just returned from listening to Mr Fleshler speak and have more time. Before I get into my questions for you though I would like to share my opinion of the event with the commenters. This is my take and my opinion only, my ride seemed more impressed with Mr Fleshler than I was.

    As I walked into the place where the event was held I saw a car with wall to wall anti-American stickers covering the back window pulling into a parking space in front of the book shop. There must have been 20 or 30 political stickers blocking her view out the back window, so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to ask the driver how she could see through all the propaganda clouding her vision. The humor of that statement went in one ear, wafted around in the empty space, and eventually floated out the other ear. She was a proud member of Ameinu. Nice.

    Anyway, I politely listened to Mr Fleshler’s spiel and the audience was so small I got a chance to ask two questions. (Mr Fleshler if you are reading this, yes it is the somewhat large guy with long curly hair and long grey beard…and no, I am not an Orthodox Jew, I am not even a Jew at all) As I explained to Mr Witty, I am not good at putting my thoughts into words, but I essentially wanted to know why the Jewish communities in the disputed land were an impediment to peace if the Arab settlements in the same disputed land are not. Mr Fleshler had mentioned the so called “settlements” at least three times in a negative light, and implied that politicians unwilling to confront the settlement expansions were cowards, and needed to be pushed into thinking the way he does. Mr Fleshler did not really answer the question, whether it was my fault for wording it wrong or he did not want to, I don’t know. At least he did grudgingly admit that there may be a legal basis to argue support of the settlements on. But that tiny detail was drowned in a deluge of rhetoric that to do so would be so fiendishly immoral nobody in their right mind would hold that opinion. Really? Since it was perfectly clear that I support the Jewish community, it was quite insulting to have it implied that I am immoral in a public forum, but I held my tongue at what I took as an insult. What was more telling to me though was that Mr Fleshler also stated bluntly that he “did not care” about the Jewish community living beyond what he falsely labeled the “67 borders”, (there is no 67 border, there is a demarcation line that was never meant to become a border. Nothing more, nothing less). To his logic the Jews were “thrust upon” the poor, poor Arabs living there, legal rights be damned along with anyone harboring the evil opinion that Jews have just as much right to live there that the Arabs suddenly calling themselves Palestinians do. How they are actually an impediment to peace was never addressed, nor was the thought provoking portion of my question demanding equal treatment of the Arab settlements addressed. OK, I accept that most speakers care more about selling books or ego than getting at the truth.

    Two things come to mind, other than I am not a very lucid writer and I support the Jewish people’s aspirations of not living under constant threat of genocide. One, if you are going to make implications about an audience member it would be nice to elaborate, and if you would like to discuss the merits of supporting Israeli morals over Hamas morals I won’t mind the equivalent of clubbing baby seals for fur. Two, if we can’t apply a single standard to both sides the issue becomes credibility for the speaker with the double standard. Ie, if the problem is settlement expansion on disputed land, why is it only a problem when it is Jewish settlement expansion on disputed land? If you claim that Jews are moving from wherever they were to a plot of disputed land the same should apply to any Arab moving to a disputed plot of land. The, I was born there, argument does not hold any weight, you were born somewhere, but hundreds of Arab towns sprang up on disputed land without so much as a raised brow by the same folks that demand a freeze to the Jewish population on this land. This was all avoided in the fluff and smoke answer I got, of course.

    The second question I asked after everyone else had posed a question was something to the effect of why should I as an American support Arab racism, Islamic bigotry, and intolerance that will manifest in the creation of a terrorist sanctuary? What’s in it for me? Mr Flesher refused to answer the question on the grounds that he did not accept the premise. Sure. I don’t accept the premise that a people motivated by racism and religious bigotry can suddenly discover that they are a culturally unique people who’s homeland has been violated by Israel when they sat in approving silence about the disposition of said homeland for 20 years when it was under occupation by like minded religious bigots, I don’t accept the premise that the conflict has anything to do with land, I don’t accept the premise that peace at any cost is worth accepting, and I don’t accept the premise that America has anything to gain by appeasing violent bigotry at the expense of our good friends Israel. I rephrased the question to ask for evidence that the totalitarian Islamic nightmare Hamas demands will not come to pass and all Mr Fleshler could claim is that the great powers would not allow it or that peace keepers could be used to monitor rocket fire. Really? I thought we are supposed to lobby our politicians to force Israel to cave in to terrorism, consequences be damned? The irony of the statement floated around the confines of that little book shop like a helium filled rubber glove and I seemed to be the only one that saw it. If we have to have peace keepers to prevent rocket fire, WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME as an American? Obviously the racist bigots calling themselves Palestinians do not deserve a state of there own, nor is it in America’s interest to see one fabricated. Morality? It is immoral to support gender apartheid, religious discrimination, genocidal rhetoric and threats, glorification of death and suicide, disregard of human rights, and totalitarian dogma. None of which Mr Fleshler bothered to address in his condemnation of American policy makers that refuse to buy into the whole Palestine charade.

    Another audience member, part of the Ameinu mob desperately wanted to know how to get main stream Jews to go along with the Ameinu agenda. How about starting with honesty and progressing past fantasy and wishful thinking? Americans are sometimes irrational, but they can usually smell a rotten fish. Lobbying our policy makers to push Israel to risk it’s own safety to give America some fleeting political edge in the Arab world is not only immoral, but dangerously naive.

    Next post to Mr Whitty.

  35. If you’ve heard my comments before, then they will be redundant to you.

    There are two LEGITIMATE questions at play that are at the heart of American and European legal and political systems.

    1. Definition of the jurisdiction and manner of sovereignty. Democracy in whatever form, and even other forms of governance rest on the concept of “consent of the governed”. In a democratic society in which power is transferred peacefully and orderly via election process with one-person one-vote, that quality is quite obvious. In less democratic forms, the concept still applies, but in the form of “acceptance” of the existing form. (A monarchy can be consented or not. A dictatorship, whether by individual or party, is usually enforced by military/police force which makes it at least confusing, if not false.)

    So, if you believe that governance should be democratic – obvious and committed “consent of the governed”, then some form of plebiscite in the region CURRENTLY, should define what jurisdiction and manner of governance conforms to this.

    FEW, and I mean few, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in particular, regard Israel as their nation. Most regard it as an external and suppressive power, that rejects self-governance for Palestinians.

    If the majority within the region of the West Bank desire to self-govern as a Palestinian, or Arab or Islamic democratic state, in co-existance with Israel, then more power to them. They should have that right, whether Israel or others feel that they might be threatened by that at some point in the future.

    If the prospective state actively threatens to go to war CURRENTLY, then it is rational to oppose such a formation, self-governing or not. In the PA proposing to negotiate borders, and relations with Israel, they are ALREADY defining that they choose NOT to war with Israel, but to co-exist. The supposition that the PA is not capable of co-existing as a good neighbor to a good neighbor, is false, and projection of fear, more than an observation of reality.

    2. Status of title to individual parcels of land – The right to settle on land is dependant on its property status, NOT the sovereignty. Seeking to expel settlements for whom title results from a chain of bona-fide purchases, would be a violation. But, that represents a small percentage of the land that the settlements comprise. The majority of the land has been transferred to settlements by a long CONTESTED chain of transfers.

    Specifically, most settler land was common or unoccupied land during the Turkish and British mandate period. (A large portion was formerly occupied and owned on the basis of residence often, by Palestinian individuals, families, clans). In 1948, Jordan took over the land, titled much of it to Jordanian state land, but governed by similar acceptance of relative title by occupancy. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, and assumed the responsibilities of an occupying power, including the responsibility to retain pre-existing title. In 1992 (I think), Jordan renounced its claim to the West Bank, ambiguously. The status of former Jordanian state land was ambiguously and opportunistically and frankly illegally assumed to have been transferred to Israeli state land, even though the status of Israeli temporary occupation remained internationally. They just didn’t know who was the subsequent responsible sovereign power.

    That is still the legal status of the land.

    Its been a long time.

    But, the truth is that Israel only has the right to control that land for the purposes of temporary oversight, NOT for ANY form of expropriation.

    So, my proposal is that the 67 borders construct the most rational and most consented possible jurisdictions, and that in ALL cases title questions should be determined on a case by case basis, by a color-blind court which is consented within each jurisdiction (each applying consistent rules of establishing basis of title on individual entity basis – including collective by family, clan or other collective definition).

    And, that current residents should be entitled to remain, excepting agregious cases, and be allowed to perfect their title (from contested to consented), by compensation.

    And, that individuals that can make compelling claims to ownership of land even in Israel proper, and can demonstrate that their exclusion from that land is more unjust than the removal of a current resident (a high bar), that they should be allowed to return to their property (a limited right of return).

    Your use of the term “Ameinu mob” suggests to me that your emotions may overpower your reasoning ability Michael, that you have a prejudicial perspective. Most prejudicial conclusions, even if true for a moment, are not true over an extended period, as they are not based on equal due process under the law.

  36. Richard,

    I will respond tomorrow in detail, but in five mintutes…

    I have not read all of your writing, I have read some and have a high opinion of your ability to express yourself, something I feel envious of. Your conclusions are yet untested in my book, but your lucidity is top notch.

    What you wrote seems to assume Jordan held title legally. It did not.

    While democracy is a fine institution, much of the world lives in tyranny without its legitimacy challenged. But more importantly two things, it is not immoral to separate peoples, by force if necessary, that can not get along and Jews face an existential threat that in my opinion trumps land rights of the hostile Arabs arrayed against her.

    The prospective state does actively threaten war and genocide, both are codified in the respective documents of Fatah and Hamas, which I will quote tomorrow. A long term hudna is not something I would gamble with the lives of future Israelis over were I in position to decide.

    I agree with part of point two. I think you need to research the Ottoman and laws though. Miri land was used, purchased, and willed to family, but it was not private land. It is not titled land and is owned by the state. I am part Kiowa, if you wish to discuss land tenure in the abstract we can determine if your theory fits universally and I will add my unique perspective in light of my ancestry. The fact is though, no settlements were built without consideration of private property, compensation, or as part of a grand Zionist scheme of ethnic cleansing as the canard often goes.

    The truth is we can’t define the border of Israel no matter how far the deviation from the cease fire line, we can not claim Israel is occupying someone’s land because the issue has not been decided. It may or may not be occupying, but if you can’t define where the occupation begins and ends the point is moot. There is no High Contracting party and Israel has as much claim or better than any party involved.

    Your proposal is based on a false premise that there is a “border” there is no border and it does not make sense in light of Arab claims in 1964 that the cease fire line means anything to them at all legitimately.

    My ridicule of Ameinu has nothing to do with an emotional state. I am completely dispassionate in my application of law and fairness to all. My ridicule is just what it is a disdain for a position that is ill thought out and presented as a platform to rally the ignorant.

  37. A very long post by me has not shown up. It should have been seen somewhere around 10 Eastern, I hit submit, but it did not appear on site, do these sometime go to limbo here or if it was too long does it get discarded and lost?

  38. Don’t argue using me as a “straw man”. That means, respond to my comments only, not to what a few others that conclude similarly on a few points express.

    My proposal as far as sovereignty at the green line is based on a consented offer by the Arab League to accept and normalize relations with Israel if it accepts the green line as border. Israel has that choice currently.

    Israel has to choose from the limited options that are on the menu. There are many customizations, but there are really only a few main themes.

    1. No Israel in a stacked deck single democratic state, with right of return for all claimed Palestinian descendants. (No Israel, likely very violent civil war, then Israel/Palestine again anyway after the war.)

    2. Plebiscite of current residents resulting in a Zionist majority of 51%, resulting in civil war.

    3. Partition by consent of the Arab League proposal, at the green line with agreed acre for acre swap. The US and Europe will be on board and contribute in all ways to the restoration of relations and defense of all parties.

    If the peace is actually applied, then there still is the possibility of jihadists gathering in Palestine, but the wind is out of their sails. Cosmopolitan Palestine is much more appealing. There will still be a need for strong intelligence and defense, but far far more limited than currently.

    Further, the mileage of exposed border will be FAR less than currently, and FAR FAR less than if the Israeli treaties with Jordan and Egypt break down, which is more than a remote possibility currently.

    Further, the allignment between Sunni participation in a cosmopolitan Mediterranean oriented middle east, and a pan-Islamic mid-Asian oriented middle east will shift towards Iran in particular.

    4. Annexation of currently settled areas, with partitioned demilitarized Palestinian state. In that case, the wind will be IN the jihadist and radical nationalists’ sails. The Arab League will not be able to acquiesce to Israeli expansion, and will be forced politically to undertake enforceable boycotts (including oil), and support radicals in terror efforts, and overt war. No fantasy of free-trade Levant will come even remotely close to occurring.

    World opinion would regard Israel as parallel to South Africa, in a confrontational manner. The 10% that oppose Israel commitedly in Europe, will grow to 40-50% or more, and will be able to mount a similar divestment and boycott campaign that isolated South Africa.

    5. Annexation of the entire land from River to Sea. Similarly, Israel will be isolated in the world, with even the US strongly considering boycott and sanctions.

    In each of those cases, there is no consent over either sovereignty or title, no consented court to deliberate. Any assertion that title is perfected, will be based on decree, not on law.

    If that is your vision of improvement in the status of democracy, or even necessary for Israel to survive, then we have entirely different versions of what makes up civil life.

  39. I’m sorry, the third option is the only one likely to achieve real prospects of consent. The agreement can be customized, but not to the point that it results in disfigurement.

  40. Michael,

    Your longish post was caught in the WordPress spam filter and I have tried to set it free. Sometimes that takes awhile. Sorry I was unable to be attentive to these commments last night while returning from Detroit.

    The Ameinu event that you described bears little resemblance to the event I attended. But if you felt that the nice, polite people who happened to agree with me could be characterized as a “mob,” I wonder what term you would use to describe an actual mob. I have a very different memory of what I said than you do. But it will be on C-Span Book TV next weekend and perhaps on YouTube sooner than that, and the truth will be my response.

  41. Michael,
    The basis for the West Bank being considered occupied territory is that it was captured in a war, there was no peace treaty or agreement to end that war and Israeli troops remain in possession of it. In legal terms this is an occupation–the same as the American presence in Iraq before the Iraqi elections and the transfer of sovereignty.

    Under international law a state can’t move its population into occupied territory or remove the inhabitants of that territory for the purpose of using the land. Now Israel argues that it is not an occupier because Jordan didn’t have legal title. This is tantamount to stealing property from a thief and arguing that you now have just title to the property because the property didn’t rightfully belong to the thief. So to legally rule over the West Bank, Israel should rule in accordance with the Geneva Convention until the issue of the West Bank’s future is permanently decided. Israel conforms to the Geneva Convention when it is convenient for it to do so but operates in opposition to its terms when there are internal political pressures to do so.

    This is not the way legal title is established. Richard Witty discusses legal title for individual land, I’m discussing it for a territory.

  42. Dan–can you notify us if it goes on youtube? thanks.

    ok…so what I don’t understand about the whole settlement thing is that I thought 2 states were clearly demarcated in ’48 by the UN.

    Did that, or did that not mean anything? From what I read here, it sounds like it meant nothing.

    I still have my own doubts about whether Palestinians want or can run a state. But that’s besides the point.

    What belongs to them and what doesn’t according to the pro-settler camp? And what empirical evidence is there to back up your point of view?

    In other words, is there something beyond the fact that Israel whipped their sorry butts in ’67 (and beyond) and took territory as booty?

  43. In 1948, two states were defined, but immediately (even before the UN ratification), there was first a Palestinian civil war (Zionists, Palestinians), then an international solidarity/landgrab war by Syria, Jordan, Egypt, with supporting troups from Iraq.

    Jordan occupied the West Bank, and declared it as part of Jordan immediately, which was accepted by the UN. The 1948 UN resolution had Jerusalem as an international city, which both Zionists and Arabs rejected by military force.

    In 1949, an armistice agreement was signed by all parties, defining boundaries that functioned as sovereign, until 1967. (In 1956, Israel occupied the Sinai Peninsula, but then agreed to retreat to 49 boundaries.)

    There were purchased Jewish settlements in two regions of the West Bank prior to 1948, whose residents were removed by force when Jordan took over. They are now areas where there is some substantiation of perfected title, but they are a minority of the land that the settlements are located on.

  44. Why isn’t there more pressure on Jordan, Egypt, Syria to absorb the Palestinians? Of course, it would’ve made more sense back in the day…

    It’s too bad the West didn’t push for that. And now there’s this dubious argument that they want a state and are capable of running a state.

    Is there a time limit for how long we’re supposed to believe this?

  45. this just isn’t working out, could it be the length? going to try and break it in half, I am very long winded…

  46. Richard,

    I must admit that your comment stating that I am using you as a straw man leaves me baffled. Perhaps you can satisfy my curiosity by explaining what false argument I erected, what the argument I avoided was, and how I knocked down an empty straw figure to pretend I had made a valid point? I don’t see any comment I made fitting that bill, but I am open to alternate interpretation of what a straw man is.

    Your offer is based on a suggestion that has little merit in my analysis. Where the final borders of Israel lie at the end of this, if there is an end, has absolutely nothing to do with each Arab league member’s status with Israel except in as much as they are making demands on peace which is within their power to grant without precondition or prejudice. The proposal is little more than that of an antagonist’s offer to desist in bad behavior. Hardly deserving of being rewarded, for all the reasons that shouldn’t need to be discussed. Further, from all the evidence I have gathered, any normalized relations would very likely start and end within the offices of the respective dictatorial tyrant of the day.

  47. Which brings me to a criticism of the red herring of “consent” you are throwing around. Power dynamics of the Middle Eastern strong man phenomenon aside, there is no popular consent for normalizing relations with the Jews. And let’s be honest, savvy Western coached leaders may talk in the more palatable terms of national identity and interstate relations, but the bottom line on the street, where it matters most, Jews are not Muslims or Arabs, which is the actual heart and locus of the animosity. The land issue is merely a thin facade to cover the ugly truth of Arab racism and Islamic bigotry for the likes of Ameinu and other dupes to hide behind, a fig leaf that some of us point and laugh at, if you will.

    As to your assertion of Israel’s main choices and speculation of the future of each, I reject much of the speculatory aspect. There may be a world consensus for ending the conflict but the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians have no desire to share anything with Jews by consensus. Both major parties share a common goal of destroying Israel by any means available. Nor would they even be able to declare peace with the Jews today without the blessing of the Muslim Brotherhood, even if every last one of them voted for peace, which is another red herring since they overwhelming approve of more war. Why? That is where I blame the Jews. There has been several chances to win a final decisive victory, but misplaced morality has blinded the Jews to what is necessary to end the conflict. As long as the Arabs see a viable military option Israel will remain under threat and in order to abate this situation Israel must embrace self defense as a national policy instead of kow-towing to a hostile world community.

  48. 1. There is no such thing as a right of return in binding legal terms. This makes suggestion one a fantasy suggestion. The ‘right of return” is an Arab demand and nothing more. In addition, when the Saudi plan states “b. Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” it does not have to mean Israel is responsible for those refugees. Israel is not mentioned in UN 194 and the relevant wording states that “compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” This may imply Israel to those insisting on a General Assembly “suggestion”, but it clearly states a plural and includes non-state actors. Without the invasion by 7 Arab armies there would be no need for compensation. Where does liability and responsibility for damages actually lie?

    2. Recent more thorough research has concluded that for monetary and political purposes the Arab population figures are overblown. One man one vote would be fine, but existential threats trump democracy and property rights imho. The US does not allow Puerto Ricans to vote in Presidential elections, for example, yet it seems to work just fine allowing them to keep their identity while being subject to American law. In order to preserve the nature and need of a Jewish sanctuary a constitutional foundation can be codified with no more loss of democracy than the US itself suffers. We can also discuss the reservation system as well for other workable models.

  49. 3. There is no consensus or willingness to apply peace. Even during the much touted cease fire rockets and mortars landed on Israel. Any Hamas member that wished to kill Jews simply changed hats or acted on his own with little fear of reprisal or enforcement. Further the Green Line canard is not the issue and has zero relevance in solving the problem. In 1964 the PLO drafted a Charter, in their own words they had no aspirations to the land when it was not controlled by Jews, we commonly know this as bigotry…

  50. Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.

  51. Although you and many others grasping for straws want to believe this is the answer and that the settlements are the “problem”, this is probably the worst solution available because it is dangerously naive and requires cognitive dissonance on a grand scale to accept as legitimate. Part of my lost post addressed this core issue, unfortunately.


  52. Mr Fleshler, at this point there is no point to publih it. I was annoyed at the time and that is the end of it. You can however save it for the CNN or Youtube cross checking of the conversation and get back with me or share it with this audience if you feel it will damage my credibility. I welcome that confrontation. I clearly stated that the post was my “opinion” and proceeded to give my inner thoughts on how I preceived the speech.

    I’m sorry, but you must admit that asking the woman with dozens of Marxist, Maoist, anti American stickers obscuring her back window how she could “see through all the propaganda” clouding her vision was funny though.

    I am glad you may answer detractors here. You will not be able to talk over me, cut me off, or use your podium to wander off track as you are free to do in a speaking forum…if you do allow dissent here that is. I find most people run from the truth if it damages their self esteem to stand and face it. Hope you are not one of them. I honestly know nothing about you, or your views beyond Sunday. I am here because this is your web site and I recognized Richard Witty. I am curious and am quite happy to discuss on this forum what it is about my recolection of the event that was out of place though? From respect of ANY event I attend, unlike others, I actually keep my questions very brief, even if they are supposed to provoke critical thought in the audience. Then I take my lumps in silence, stoically for the most part, if any are due. And I freely admit I have a phobia of speaking in public so what I say does not usually match what I had in mind before it stammers out, it is irrational, and I don’t know how to control it, that is what a phobia is, so unlike you I am not a smooth talker in front of an audience and I must over come real fear every time I stand up for what I believe in…and I have been in some very hostile crowds, I am somewhat large and do not fear phsical confrontatation but I have often been the only voice in support of Israel where I go…in a large Arab community, use your imagination and it is likely how you picture it…open house at the mosque for example with 300 Muslims and me wanting to now what happened to the Jews of Medina. Regardles of my communication shortfalls, I am very good at cutting through fluff and smoke, which is the usual tactic of those that do not address the actual issues. That all said, I have a problem with your credibility. You fabricated two out and out false statements, whether they were deliberate or not matter little. You presneted yourself as the diviner of truth yet made false statements. The tape will reveal I am correct.

  53. First, you stated there is a “1967 border”. There is not. There is a demarcation line that has zero to do with a border. The final borders of Israel are not established, meaning that some, all, or none of the land Israel liberated in 1967 may be under occupation. In any event it is not a border as you stated. Wishful thinking, ignorance, or propaganda? Casually referring to it as a border reveals immense bias and lack of objectivity. The second, more egregious error you made was saying there are “Jewish only roads”, that is a canard more often heard on the pages of Storm Front. I “had it out” with Ameinu partisans, a mob, if you wish to connect my name and style of ridicule/ word association with, in the audience that swore up and down quite vehemently that it was true, I haven’t lived in Israel and didn’t know what I was talking about, and on and on. It was a long painful process, but I brought them to the realization that it was in fact false. Jews do not have secret mind powers to know who fellow Jews are, there is no way of enforcing that because Israelis do not discriminate based on religion, like say, Saudi Arabia or the Hashemite occupied East Palestine that none of you Israel critics seem worried about do.

    So sure, I think “mob” accurately describes the spiteful side of Ameinu I encountered up front while you were tucked away in the serene little bubble world of fawning sycophants in the back. Nor is this the first time I have encountered some of these folks, regardless of your own aversion to the Jewish Voices for Appeacment there is cross over from the hate Israel first crowd locally. Some of them get rather frothy around the mouth area when anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists blather on about the Jewish lobby or some such. I will admit that the JVP is the rudest audience I have ever encountered. If it means anything to you I also thought several Ameinu members were polite enough to chat after the crowd thinned and seemed genuinely interested in how a non-Jew became so interested in this issue. The JVP on the other hand know me by sight. I have yet to finish a question or an event without being both interrupted and called names. Your implied insult that I was immoral directed at me was mild compared to the f bombs I get from the head of the so called Palestine Office, Hasan Newash.

    But thanks for allowing me to post here and bothering to address any of what I have to say. Annoying as it is to break it down.


  54. Thomas,

    If you believe that land can not be captured in war and kept, then trans-Jordan, which is Arab Palestine, referred to as the Eastern Province of Palestine in official documents of the time held the land illegally. Usually this bit of info leaves the Arab side standing with a sort of slack jawed far away stare on their face for a moment as they mull it over. You understand this though so it is no shock that UN 242 addressed the illegal Jordanian occupation of this disputed land by making this assumption, which turns out not to be true in any event when the war is defensive in nature like Israel’s was, else what exactly do you rationalize would prevent an aggressor trying over and over to take over another country with impunity knowing the international law experts out there will demand they get their lost land back, which happens to be one of the prime motivating factors in keeping aggression in check..fear of losing your own land to a defender. In any case a Security Council Resolution does not create law, “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” is part of a statement, but does not define the legal stance on war and border changes, which are far more complicated.

    As to the assumption that there is no peace treaty? Israel and Jordan have signed a peace treaty. You will be happy to note that the border they agreed to was the center of the Jordan river. A very defensible border that makes sense when the lives of a people living under constant threat of genocide are your primary concern.

    I suggest you brush up on your legal definitions. The armistice lines of 1949 have no legal standing. Do I need to make this clearer? If you can’t even define where the so called occupation begins and where it ends there is a problem. How do you label something you can’t locate with accuracy? With a vague wave of the hand and a certainty that can only be achieved by a deep conviction that the Jews stole from or as Mr Fleshler stated in his spiel “were thrust upon” those poor Arabs? I don’t know.

    I hate to link you to the Hague Resolutions, but you will find the legal definition of what a real occupation is there, unfortunately you can’t contract with a mob (my new favorite word), there is no High Contracting Party’s land to occupy so this treaty does not apply nor does the Geneva Conventions many ignorant partisans seem to love misquoting from apply either.

    “Under international law a state can’t move its population into occupied territory or remove the inhabitants of that territory for the purpose of using the land.”

    Could you find and link me to a respectable site, ie not wikiuseless, where I can read about this clever concept? You have read it yourself, right? You would never rely on some anti-Israel website to do your research for you, right? If you are going to throw terms like “international law” around like beads at Marti Gras I assume you are familiar with them and how they apply to Israel.

    I understand the difference in Richards and your argument. If I am not clear on something I have no problems asking for clarification. I await source of what you believe to be applicable law to Israel.


  55. Michael,
    You didn’t address the assertion that Israel is occupying the land, with varying rights and obligations.

    There was ambiguity as to the ultimate sovereign entity that will be responsible for the governance of that region, but it doesn’t change the nature of the occupation and the guidelines of responsibility.

    Specifically, there is no legal basis to expropriate land even by long and seemingly rational sequences of transfers. (A common sequence of land status for settlements is

    1. Military outpost for legitimate occupation responsibilities
    2. Construction of baracks to house continuing personnel presence of strictly military personnel
    3. Construction of family’s dwellings of “long-term” military personnel
    4. Construction of civilian support systems for growing military settlement, including infrastructure, commerce, amenities, agriculture.
    5. Transfer of title of formerly temporary military outpost, to Jewish National Fund, under leasehold model accompanied by transfer of title of civilians’ property to civilians to enhance continuity of legal property rights. (The Jewish National Fund is a model of the land-trust method of property rights in which individuals do not own the land perse but have renewable life-long leases which are not sellable but are transferrable to heirs.)

    It constructs a math of gradual expropriation that appears at the tree level (forest and trees) to be rational, legal, and then becomes precedent and the basis of “these are our homes”. (True, but as a result of incrementally illegal transitions that add up from the forest level as an intentionally illegally constructed expropriation. I used to design some transactions to legally avoid taxation, which are similar in design. Bona fide transactions in form and substance at the tree level, often by different individuals, but that were designed to function as potentially illegal tax avoidance at the forest level.)

    Assertion by DECREE is not law.

    Law has the characteristic of consent, not by actual votes or mobs, but by the “reasonable man test”. A day in court, not a day in a ethnically exclusive legislature only.

    That the Arab League articulated its proposal TWICE, and key leaders continue to present it in European, American, world capitals, indicates that the intent is serious and an application of “consent of the governed” among their people generally.

    Your fears are good things to note, to incorporate into the design and elaboration of what constitutes the agreement so that the agreement can stand. But, the assertions “they don’t really want it” is insufficient proof of its impossibility. When you and Yakov state, “it is impossible in fact”, that is THE critical element of your potentially rational argument, short of actually coveting the West Bank for Israel (but hiding that that is your motivation).

    I think the best that Obama can do is put Israel into the position of “the Arab League proposal, customized by mutual consent, is what will occur. The best that Israel can do is to participate in the design of features that ensure viability and security within that context.”

    I used the term “boundaries”, which is a slightly different term than “borders”. Again, there are two ADVANTAGES of the green line as basis of agreement.

    1. There is the prospect, the stated offer, of near-universal consent to those borders.
    2. They are more defensible than the settlement maze.

  56. Michael,

    If you Google “1967 borders” or “pre-1967 borders” you will see that is is a generally accepted term for the boundaries between Israel and its neighbors on the eve of the Six Day War. It is not reasonable to call that term a fabrication simply because your view of those borders/boundaries/armistice lines is different than the view of most of the world.

    By questioning my use of the term “Jew only” roads, you betray a profound ignorance of the situation in the West Bank. There are bypass roads that were explicitly built for the Jewish settlers early in the Oslo process and the web of these roads has thickened over the years. They were justified by Rabin and others as security measures that would permit the Jewish settlers to have minimal contact with Palestinians. Except for a small percentage of Arab workers,and other exceptions made by border police at checkpoints, they are used only by Jews (and foreign tourists). The term I used is justified.

    Finally, I don’t object to anyone posting comments as long as they do not contain personal attacks or are overtly racist. But when I woke up this morning, I encountered a great many comments by you, some rather lengthy. There is a certain unspoken and unwritten protocol on blogs which calls for restraint when it comes to the length of comments or the number of comments. I am afraid that first-time visitors or even regulars here will be unwilling to participate if the comments section appears to be a platform for multiple entries, in succession, from one person. Given your level of anger, I am afraid that anything I mention in this regard will be taken by you as an act of censorship, but in the future, please excercise some restraint.

    Please, just read the other threads and you will see how it usually works. If you want a platform to expound on your view of EVERY aspect of the conflict that occurs to you, may I suggest that you start your own blog?

  57. Oh, and one more thing. I do not recall ever calling you “immoral.” That does not sound like anything I would ever call an individual. So I don’t know what you are talking about but if the tape does show that your version of the event is acccurate, I apologize.

  58. Michael,
    At the end of the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence armistice agreements were signed between Israel on one hand and Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria on the other–no agreement with Iraq was signed. Pending peace treaties these constitute the legal boundaries of Israel. Anything beyond them legally constitutes an occupation. Legally the West Bank and Gaza are a “no man’s land” with no validly-recognized claimant. The Palestinian population, however, has a claim under the 1947 UN resolution to the parts of Palestine not within the armistice lines as these were alloted by the UN. To ensure title the Palestinians would have to conclude a peace agreement with Israel.

  59. Thomas-I am reading Michael Oren’s book about the Six-Day War and he points out that the Egyptians considered the Israeli occupation of the southern Negev and Eilat in Operation Uvda in early 1949 to be illegal aggression because the move was made after they signed their Armistice Agreement with Israel. The US and European countries in the early 1950’s were also saying that Eilat was illegally occupied, apparently on the basis of what you said. Eisenhower offered to push Israel out of Eilat as an incentive to get Nasser’s Egypt to sign the Baghdad Pact (CENTO). He refused. In any even, they all got used to Israel controlling Eilat, just as they will get used to Israeli settlements in Judea/Samaria.

  60. Richard, only about half of what I wrote for 2 days has appeared here. I don’t appreciate half answers, so I don’t give them myself. However, my welcome here seems to be predicated on brevity. In the spirit of restraint I will labor to address maybe just one key issue at a time. OK?

    It is hard to address something that I feel is based on a false premise. To conclude that Israel is a belligerent occupier of Judea and Samaria and subject to treaties governing the conduct of state on state relationships predetermines that the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians are either a state and or a legitimate non-state claimant. By any reasonable test they can not suddenly claim a status that did not exist prior to Jewish jurisdiction. It is only from widespread ignorance or political expediency that this little meme has germinated into the full blown, big lie, propaganda it is today.


  61. The Arabs had 19 years to make any legitimate claim known to the world at large. They did not, and had every means with which to do so had they chosen to. They have no problems creating gruesome international spectacles to draw attention to their demands, like throwing cripples into the sea from hijacked cruise liners and massacring international athletes at Olympic games. Instead they made it crystal clear that they had no political aspirations in Judea and Samaria when they drafted the Palestinian National Charter in 1964, three years before the hated Jews arrived.


  62. It is clear from their founding document, the Palestine National Charter, and their silence that at the time Arab Muslims were in control over the land, the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians had no desire to lay claim to the land that they have somehow duped the world into accepting is their justification in brutalizing the Jewish people of Israel over today.


  63. I apologize but there is something screwy here, the keystrokes are less tan what other use, but it will not allow me to submit it all, is that something that is controlled manually?

  64. Mr Flshler,

    You used the term “1967 border” or “67 border”, I suggest you view the tape to refresh your memory. Hardly worth debating semanitics though. If Jews are “bound” to a boundary it is the same thing, in either case it is blatantly false or misleading rhetoric that undermines your credibility. Nor is the argument that “they say it too” of any help, the world uses the term loosely as you state. So what? The choice is to follow the lemmings or stand your ground on accuracy. You shouldn’t need props, window dressing, or white wash to add luster to any portion of your case if you are sincere and confident that it can stand the test of scrutiny. Further, the so called settlement maze may or may not be less defensible, but the center of the Jordan river is for sure, and it enjoys the luxury of having been agreed upon by the two High Contracting Parties involved in the 1967 war as the “boundary/border” between the two actual states of Palestine.

    I do not need to Google any of this, I know it by heart. It is reasonable to demand accuracy and honesty when the lives of so many are at stake. The document that created the demarcation line stated clearly, at Arab insistence, that the line would not prejudice future border negotiations. How much clearer than that do you need it spelled out for you? The line was only valid so long as the two forces agreed to maintain it, once open warfare was engaged in its significance was shattered and discarded as far as the law is concerned.

    By using the term “Jewish only roads” you betray a profound ignorance of fact and lack of moral quality. There are no Jewish only roads in Israel, that is slander, a reckless charge of bigotry easily proven to be false, and the very fact that Israeli only roads are necessary is solely due to the violent intolerance and actions of the genocidal Arabs you champion. As a public figure you have a moral responsibility to prevent genocide, not to add fuel to those engaged in incitement for it. There is no justification of promoting a lie with the sole intention of demonizing the Jewish community in Israel, a proven precursor to genocide. It is disgusting and immoral, but maybe others are seeing a bit more of the side of the event that I did now.

    No need to presume my state of mind or speculate my reactions. I am placid as a pool of water and perfectly capable of relating my thoughts, in at least a passable manner. I have a test blog, but I prefer to remain a nomad if it is OK? And directly after I made it clear that I supported the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria you stated that you did not care about them and that to support them was immoral. How was I supposed to react?


  65. Thomas,

    “Pending peace treaties these constitute the legal boundaries of Israel.”

    You are obviously in over your head here, which is why I am gently urging you to do a little actual research to support your statements. I do this hoping you will see for yourself that you are wrong on what you think the law says. I am setting you up for ridicule and now that I see how little you understand I am instantly ashamed to have indulged. I’m sorry, sir. However, I did ask you to direct me to the “international law” that states “a state can’t move its population into occupied territory or remove the inhabitants of that territory for the purpose of using the land.” This is your premise. If you offer a premise you need to defend it by bringing supporting facts. It will help you understand actual law if you look for this instead of compounding the problem and making more unqualified statements. What I just quoted above does not exist anywhere that I am aware of, but I am open to the idea of you pointing it out to me if it is not too much to ask. For your information I will offer one for free. The UN does not create law. General Assembly Resolutions do not create international law. UN 187 was a suggestion and nothing more. It can not be misconstrued as the basis for any legal claim by any party involved. Why your friends here do not correct you is beyond me, but I will not make sport of you if you at least attempt to answer the question I have asked twice now.


  66. Israel is the only state (maybe very very small others) that regards the Israeli boundaries to be indeterminate as you describe, or that regards your thesis that Israel is not an occupying power over the West Bank and Golan, with the responsibilities of an occupying power under the Geneva conventions, to which it is a signatory.

    The only ambiguity in that status is constructed by Jordan’s renunciation of its rights and responsibilities over the region.

    But, any inference that the land is fair game is innaccurate.

    The 1949 armistice agreement, ratified by the UN (general assembly AND security council) codified the boundaries into international law.

    Jurisdictions change. To say that jurisdictions don’t or cannot by the use of force is an ideal, not a reality.

    The selection of jurisdiction is a design, an intentional selection. In this case, the rational selection of jurisdiction IS the green line, with only mutually consented modifications.

    I too oppose terror as any means of dissent, and the experience of it is not lost on me. But, I ALSO observe the degree that innocent Gazan and West Bank civilians have been terrorized (using different means, some more orderly and dependable, some not).

    The current reality of Palestinian identity and desire for self-governance EXISTS, and is based on civil principles. If it didn’t in a national form in 1962 is irrelevant.

    There is NO BASIS for Israel to opportunistically use the ambiguity of Palestinian status to strategically expropriate land without due process in a color blind court system in which contesting parties have their day to defend their claims.

    You ignore MUCH, Michael. The range of reason to justify the occupation of the West Bank is becoming slimmer and slimmer. If that leaves only military means, that is an unnecessarily desparate and immoral position (in its willingness to use force where force is unnecessary).

    If the claim to the land originates in historical presence, that justifies the right to be a peer in the land. If the claim to the land originates in biblical promise, that is an unverifiable claim (to third parties). If the claim to the land is collective sentimental and enforced by military means, that is a fascist approach.


  67. This has turned into a fascinating debate. I’m enjoying the exchange.

    I guess it begs the question: who is the most accurate about the hearts & minds of Palestinians? And what are you basing your proof on?

    Of course we all realize this will only elicit subjective responses based on interpretation of reality.

    I have to admit, I tend to side slightly more with those who mistrust Arab intentions (no surprise)–although I’m not pro-settler. I’d like to be proven wrong in my sentiment by empirical evidence of what Arabs really want.

  68. Thin points, Yakov.

    “Showing”? I didn’t get any proof from either articles. What’s happening to your God-given logical powers?

  69. Richard-
    People wonder why Lieberman got so many votes.
    Now you know. If Jewish students are banned from a lecture at Haifa University (in the Jewish State) what are things coming to? It’s like Warsaw University in the 1930’s. This show the direction a lot of Israeli Arabs are going in. They don’t seem to want Dr Bernard Avishai’s “Hebrew Republic”.

  70. Mr Whitty,

    I can’t respond in depth due to restrictions on this forum, but if the world recognizes a border as you imply, what is all the endless talking about the “permanent status issues” being bandied about, by ohhhh, I don’t know, every political wind bag residing north of Antarctica? Your irrational responses are undercutting the high opinion I once had of you. I shouldn’t have to explain the difference between a border and a defunct armistice line and I shouldn’t have to state the obvious.

    5(2). In no sense are the cease-fire lines to be interpreted as political or territorial borders and their delineation in no way affects the rights, demands or positions of any of the parties to the cease-fire agreements regarding the final disposition of the Palestine question.

    What the above quote tells us is that the green line is not a border, nor was it intended to be a border in the armistice agreement, which is a non-binding Chapter VI resolution. The UN DOES NOT CREATE LAW. It did not create a lawful border. Your statement is false and woefully ignorant and biased by any standard. Further, UNSCR 242 “suggesting” Israel give away whatever portion of land it deemed in excess of its security needs confirms this fact. Aside from the fact that there is nothing compulsory in Chapter VI resolutions UN 242 does not demand “all” of the land Israel has in its possession be given away. After the Six Day War, Lyndon Johnson stated “There are some who have urged, as a single, simple solution, an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4…. this is not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities.”

    Most of what I have already laid out appears in a book by Professor Julius Stone, considered to be one of the world’s premier legal theorists, Israel and Palestine: An Assault on the Law of Nations.

    Eugene Rostow, a former dean of Yale Law School, also Undersecretary of State for the Johnson administration, determined “Israel has an unassailable legal right to establish settlements in the West Bank.”

    Prof. Stephen Schwebel, the President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, “Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt.”

    Carter was the first President to base policy on the odious claim that the so called “settlements”, (only the bigoted position that Jewish settlements are the problem though), were illegal. To this end he appointed a stooge named Herbert Hansell to act as legal adviser, but Hansell’s politically motivated determinations were ignored by every administration since…until now.

  71. You assert, but don’t argue.

    I didn’t use the term “border”. I used the term “boundary”.

    The significance of borders is that they are consented. And, currently, while individuals may site specific legal theories (who knows when they were published or what specific comment they are making), they are not rule of law until a consented legal system (not a decreed one), rules with the prospect of appeal.

    That condition doesn’t yet exist. There is no consented court system that has ruled that “Israel has more right to settlements than Jordan does (Jordan renounced all its claims, formally, so any assertion relative to Jordan is a ludicrous one).”

    The current status of sovereignty over the West Bank and Golan is CONTESTED, with a growing acknowledgement of consent that the delineation of sovereignty should be at the green line, or modified by consented revisions.

    The current status of title over most land in the West Bank that Israel and Israelis have constructed settlements on, is CONTESTED, with a growing acknowledgement of the need for all parties to present their case before an unbiased judiciary.

    When you use language like “stooge”, or “irrational”, you dismiss any claim that you had for cool-headed objectivity.

    Its an open forum, so you won’t be censored, no matter what name you use, or how falsely you present that “rule of law” is important to you as an independant criteria.

    But, the world revolves around the rule of law. I contest what many assert IS the rule of law, say like Norman Finkelstein describing ICJ pronouncements of Human Rights Watch as authoritative. I also contest that the decree that Eugene Rostow opined X (is he still alive?) that you quoted out of context, is also not authoritative, but just an individual’s opinion.

    George Bush received “authoritative” legal opinion that it was in accordance with law to detain people indefinitely without a writ of habeus corpus or any requirement for legal due process. It was false in fact, an assertion ONLY.

  72. Mr Witty,

    Boundary and border are synonymous in the English language. Should we argue redundant semantics? For brevity I thought we were discussing the core issue of whether the green line is a legal starting point, border, or “boundary” if you insist. Neither word legally applies to a defunct armistice line, the establishment of which did not create permanent or de jure borders. “The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary…” Even the very language used in the document implicitly refutes your assertion (sans argument) that the green line is a “boundary”. How much clearer can this be made for you? If the armistice line is not to be considered in any way, it is not a good starting place to negotiate where the bigot appeasing Judenrein areas will lie.

    I have quoted from the document that created the armistice lines and I have quoted relevant scholarly opinion and the best you can come up with is an unsupported charge that I have taken Rostow out of context? If this is true, why don’t you provide the correct context? Or do you not practice what you preach when making assertions of your own?

    I wonder if you even know who Eugene Rostow is or the relevance of his opinion? He is dead, he only played a key role in drafting UNSCR 242, though…nobody important. You might take the time to read a short article titled, ARE THE SETTLEMENTS LEGAL? by Eugene V. Rostow for a better understanding of the legal aspect of this situation.

    There is no theory involved with anything I am stating concerning the legal status of the green line. If the rule of law is applied fairly to all, the final size of Israel may increase or decrease, subject to final status negotiations. The merit of what size Israel ends with is a separate issue that would encompass “opinion”, as well as legitimacy and justice. Stating that the green line is not a boundary or border is a factual statement beyond question. You and Mr Fleshler maintain your “opinion” on this matter based on your own prejudice, ego, ignorance, or lack of impartiality.

    We are not talking about Bush or Finkelstein, you wasted two paragraphs on fluff. You wasted more lecturing me on forum protocol and my choice of wording. If you spent less time conjecturing on my emotional state of mind, speculating on my motivations, critiquing my language, and defending your fragile ego we might be able to arrive at a common truth. Do you suppose that is too much to ask for?

  73. You stated at one point that the UN does not create international law. That is a false statement.

    International law is created by resolutions passing both the general assembly and the security council. There is varying willingness to acquiesce to international law, that international law does not have teeth, either by universal subordinating consent of all the member states, nor of enforcement mechanisms.

    International law is of at least two forms: bi-lateral agreements and multi-lateral (three or more parties, including universal or near-universal ratification and ongoing consent).

    I read that Rostow was a large contributor to the formation and negotiation of Resolution 242. It would help if you could at least cite an article or study that “you know from memory”, so that others can comment, and not just be awed by your asserted exhaustive and authoritative memory.

    Is this the article that you were referring? Published in 1991.

    It is informative, mostly for the extent that the world and the debate has changed since that time. Rostow suggests (an opinion MERELY, in all his writings), that there should be no Palestinian state, but the West Bank as only a division of Jordan or Israel.

    That prospect is past. The range of offered consent is using the green line as a basis of borders (not literally THE borders).

    Its a bit opportunistic to site anyone as “authority” in a disputed interpretation of two words of resolution 242.

    While you may argue for it as an Israeli advocate, to state that something is “true” about the status of the borders, is a position that keeps the status as currently.

    It is now known that there is a Palestinian identity, a national identity (formed as most have historically, as a combination of reaction to common threats and assertively as an actual formation of identity). And, it is publicly offered to return to the 67 boundaries (yes, “only” an armistice) by the Arab League in exchange for full recognition.

    The world, the region is DIFFERENT in 2009, than it was in 1991, when Rostow articulated his recent opinions.

  74. Netanyahu is delaying the resolution of borders, and facilitating the expropriation of land without legal test of the title of EACH parcel of land.

    You, like so many others, opportunistically confuse the question of sovereignty with title. Even in sovereign Israel, Israel does not have the right to incrementally transfer title without equal due process before the law.

    Also, a “right” to settle, is NOT the same as a right to expropriate.

    I assert that Jews (not Israelis) should have the right to settle in the West Bank (reside) as Palestinian citizens, but NOT that Israel should have the right to declare land Israeli by decree, and opportunistically transfer title from temporary military outposts, to civilian settlements under the ownership of the Jewish Agency.

  75. Mr Whitty,

    Assuming the legality issue of the green line is at rest, I have a point to correct on what defines international law. While you seem to be on the right track with a description of the law of treaties, ie., “bilateral” (between two countries) and “multilateral” (between many countries), your description comes up short (I recognize you said “at least”, but what you stated does not is a better description of types of treaties instead of the whole panoply). Treaties are the easiest form of binding law to recognize. As you stated they represent consensual agreements between states who on “good faith” are bound to the terms.

    A better base description of international law would be, “public international law”, dealing with states and “private international law”, dealing with individual human rights. The question for our debate though is, what is the source of international law? You assert that the UN creates international law. This is false for a number of reasons, but let’s be clear what it is first. The Statute of the International Court of Justice under the heading of Competence is as good as any description international law…

    Article 38

    1. The Court, whose function is to decide in accordance with international law such disputes as are submitted to it, shall apply:

    a. international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states;

    b. international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law;

    c. the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations;

    d. subject to the provisions of Article 59, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law.

    As I stated, International conventions or treaties create binding law for the parties of the agreement, this is easy to determine. Where the water becomes murky is when and where customary law and general principles are created. Since there is no world government, customary law can be interpreted in a number of ways, but essentially it is “consistent conduct” and acceptance of many states over enough period of time to make them into customary law. Examples of this would be prohibitions on piracy, genocide, and slavery (though, slavery was only outlawed, “on paper” at least, in some sharia compliant countries in this century). General principles of law are open to interpretations of morality and right and wrong. The non-binding Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example, was widely cited as a starting point, but rejected by the OIC in favor of the 1990 Cairo Declaration for Human Rights in Islam…until an amendment restricting free speech was railroaded through the General Assembly in March of 2008.

    The UN may be influential in interpreting law, but does not create law on it’s own. The ICJ has an advisary role only unless both sides CONSENT to arbitration. UN rulings are more of a subsidary means for determination and interpretation of law. Further, UN resolutions are of two types Chapter VI and Chapter VII. Chapter VII resolutions require compliance by the subject nation and carry the threat of force that may be used to compel compliance by and at each member’s discretion. Chapter VI resolutions are meant to be implemented through negotiation or other voluntary means. All of the hostile resolutions against Israel are Chapter VI “suggestions”, none of which are considered binding international law, whether they are Security Council or General Assembly resolutions.

    As to Rostow’s opinion, it carries much more weight than you understand. Article 32 Supplementary means of interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that where wording is ambiguous recourse can be found by “supplementary means of interpretation, including the preparatory work of the treaty and the circumstances of its conclusion, in order to confirm the meaning…” Rostow and all parties involved in drafting the document (for whatever value it has where the rule of law is concerned) have made it clear that Israel was not being asked to withdraw to the defunct armistice lines created in 1949, having a better claim to the land than any legitimate party at the time. The armistice lines no longer have any legal meaning. Whether these line is a legimate starting point or not is another matter to discuss beyond the the current forum restraints. So while legal scholarship is not in itself authoritative, the mechanism for seeking clarification of “two words” is codified in international law. Rostow has been consulted and the case is closed.

    Opportunistic would describe a people that in 1964 did not want a land while Arab Muslims held it, then later in 1968 discover the same land was their long lost homeland under occupation after Jews gained control over it. The world may be different now, but men, women, and children are being murdered for no other reason than that they are Jews and intellectually dishonest opportunists have this fig leaf called the green line they hide behind to justify it.


  76. Mr Whitty,

    From your second post I take it you recognize that the Mandate for Palestine is still binding and that under the accepted doctrine of acquisition of rights, Jews have a legal right to settle in unallocated parts of the disputed land. This is usually a great hurdle to overcome when understanding the big picture. One problem between us lies in jurisdiction and land tenure.

    Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.

    In plain English, the founding Charter of the PLO proves that the Arabs did not have any aspirations of creating a state in Judea and Samaria and their actions and deeds for years to follow cemented the validity of the declaration beyond question. Genocide is a tough sell, but as a client of the Soviets they had access to the world’s greatest propagandists and an apparatus to deliver it to the Western audience. My “opinion”, not fully explored at this time, is that it is no coincidence that those most immersed in leftist ideology have accepted and promoted the ideas chosen by others because they were the most susceptible to the siren’s call of socialist propaganda so to speak.

    Do you understand the land tenure system? And more importantly can we agree that land is either “owned” or it is “governed” if it is not titled and also that immigration is not land theft on its own?

    Under Ottoman land codes there were four basic types of land, five if you count waste land like the Negev that no man at the time had the means to utilize. Milk (private owned…a tiny, tiny fraction of the Arabs held title), waqf (religious…owned by God), miri (owned by the Sultan…which was the vast majority of land used by the Arabs, able to be bought and sold, willed to family, but unable to be mortgaged), matruk (public land…such as market squares and roads), and mawat (waste land like the Negev…which was 60% of the land the 1947 Partition plan suggested should become the Jewish state). It is critical to note that what little milk land there was in the territory mislabeled Palestine was mostly, according to Abraham Granott in his book, The Land System in Palestine, “plots of land which had at the time of distribution [by Muslim conquerors] been assigned to unbelievers….”.

    So where does this leave us today? The common big lie is that all of the non-titled land that Jews did not own defaults to the Arabs. Only if you accept the lie that the green line is a border and that all land east of it is Arab land.

    Land is either owned or it is governed. All of the major Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were established with individual property rights and proximity to existing Arab population centers in mind. To focus on them as an impediment to peace both ignores the real root cause of the conflict and prejudges the jurisdictional borders of the state of Israel.


  77. Mr Whitty,

    Since we agree that Jews have a legal right to settle in unallocated parts of the disputed land. This leaves jurisdiction and land tenure, and other ethical arguments of what the likely outcome of Jews would be id left in the hands of the Arabs.

    Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.

    In plain English, the founding Charter of the PLO proves that the Arabs did not have any aspirations of creating a state in Judea and Samaria and their actions and deeds for years to follow cemented the validity of the declaration beyond question. Genocide is a tough sell, but as a client of the Soviets they had access to the world’s greatest propagandists and an apparatus to deliver it to the Western audience. My “opinion”, not fully explored at this time, is that it is no coincidence that those most immersed in leftist ideology have accepted and promoted the ideas chosen by others because they were the most susceptible to the siren’s call of socialist propaganda so to speak.


  78. Rostow is one opinion of many, of a past context. That context has MATERIALLY changed.

    It would be helpful if you QUOTED, and CITED, an article that you are basing your assertions on, so that all elements of it can be addressed.

    The term in referring to formative process of legislation is “legislative intent”. The interpretation of resolution 242, was interpreted in radically different ways from day 1, resulting from different interpretations of the legislative intent.

    It is a failing to cite a single author in determining legislative intent as authoritative, as that FAILS to demonstrate the consent from multiple positions to the law.

    Again and again, in both discussions on sovereignty and on title, the common transition that law affirms, is the transition from contested status, to consented.

    The opinion of Rostow, does NOT demonstrate that there was ever any international consent to the interpretation that resolution 242 or other legal context, allows Israel to intentionally expropriate land for which there is no modern precedent of title, nor to transfer that land to Israeli civilian title.

    There is similarly no international consent for Israel to annex occupied land to Israeli sovereignty, regardless of the prior sovereign (or absence).

    That Bush implied that to Sharon, is actually an assault on the relative authority of the UN and other formerly consented international law, by the former Bush administration. It wasn’t alone. Consider that Bush turned a blind eye to India’s renunciation of the non-proliferation treaty terms. Worse than that, actively encouraged the breakdown of the protocol.

    The importance of law is that it protects all parties. It prohibits one’s own opportunism, while protecting against others’.

    The UN is a world government, but needing reform. It needs to be empowered, more than rejected.

    The armistice lines do have legal meaning. You are confusing flexibility to mutually consent to modifications to literal former boundaries, with carte blanche to ignore obligations and others’ rights.

    Its sad that we still have to deal with “decree” as if it is law.

  79. Mr Whitty,

    I am unable to continue here. Over and over my posts are stifled by the program or the blog owner, I know not which. I attempted to address every issue yo raise in another post, but it will not print. I don’t even know if this small paragraph will print, but the rules are stifling the exchange of ideas here. If you wish to continue on a less restrictive forum post the link to it and I will meet you there, otherwise, thanks for the bit of company.


  80. Mr. LeFavour:

    It is not the “owner.” It is the Akismet spam filter that doesn’t seem to like your prose. I de-spammed some of them.

    I won’t know how you got the notion that I am some kind of unregenerate leftist who “champions” Palestinian violence. Far from it. I am part of a long tradition of Israelis and Diaspora Jews who are as concerned about the safety and security of Israelis as you are. –Harkabi and Rabin are two that come to mind.

  81. Michael,
    At times in the past, when my posts encountered some screen, I e-mailed Daniel and he posted them for me.

    You could do the same, if you really want your points to get the light of day.

    To date, you have not addressed a single issue raised, except to declare “see an “authority” proves my point”.

    I contest that you have a preconceived conclusion that you are attempting to rationalize (not even to argue for).

    The sequence of transfer of title that Israel employs (YES, employs), is constructed to be innocent to each succeeding beneficiary, but still designed intentionally to realize a forced transfer from Arab title to Israeli.

    The locations of the annexations are significant as well. Its not just hectares that are the issue. Its mutual consent.

  82. Michael,
    Just as a joke. I will presume that if you continue to address me as Mr. Whitty, that you are attempting to change my name by decree, same as was done to my great-great grandfather at Ellis Island in the 1900’s, and the same as Israel undertakes in transferring title from occupied Palestinian’s to Israeli’s.


  83. Mr Witty,

    Sorry, the typo was unintentional. I have no intention of imposing on Mr Fleshler, but the truth is half of what I have written is lost. From what you has made it through, your reaction is partially understandable. However, I would not describe what got printed as not addressing a single point.

    Mr Fleshler, you may feel you care about Jews as much as I do. I don’t doubt your good intentions. What I question is your horrid analysis of data, the conclusions you have drawn from that misunderstanding, and your willingness to act and push others based on your faulty intelligence analysis.

    My offer stands to continue somewhere else in as public a manner as you wish…assuming this even gets through.


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