"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it..."
- Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propagandist
...but if it's printed in the newspapers and seen on TV, then it gotta be correct, right? Read on.
"OCCUPATION". Oh boy. How many times must we hear that again?! This harsh, loaded and damaging term has unfortunately worked its way into the daily discourse about Israel to the point where people use it automatically and without considering its ramifications. This cliché serves the interests of Israel's enemies by not only delegitimizing the Jewish claim to Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. "occupied territories") but by also weakening the Jewish claim to all of Israel, in its entirety. It throws into question the legality and morality of Israeli sovereignty over pre-1967 Israel no less than it denies Israel's right to the "West Bank". More so, actually. Because when you think about it, if the Jewish People have no claim to ancient Biblical Shechem (Nablus), the principal Samarian city intimately linked to Jewish history ever since the time of Abraham, then a fortiori they certainly cannot claim Tel Aviv, a modern day creation of no historical, national or religious significance. From a legal standpoint, both Tel Aviv and Shechem clearly belong to the Jewish People (see the Legal Rights to Samaria section). Yet the moral and historic Jewish claim to Shechem is arguably stronger. This is a subtle but crucial point consistently missed by the Israeli Left. By bashing the settlements, the Left is actually shooting itself (and all the rest of us) in the foot. Claiming Tel Aviv while renouncing Shechem, as they do, is illogical, misguided and harmful. In fact, there's no difference between Israel proper and the "West Bank". There never was. Both were recognized, by international law, to comprise the Homeland for the Jewish People. Famed legal scholar Eugene Rostow put it this way:
"The Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the Mandate under which Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was created."Ironically, it is the rest of the world which recognizes this inconsistency, albeit unconsciously. They sense that Israel is not being true to herself. They feel she is not living up to her true potential, not fulfilling her true leadership role in the world. If Israel has no respect for her own legitimate rights, why should the rest of the world respect them? Maybe that's the real reason why Israel is almost universally held in such low regard.
Bottom line: there is no and never was any "occupation" of "Palestine". This patently false charge has NO BASIS in either fact or law, as explained in this discussion, and has been hugely damaging to Israel's morale, self-image, sense of purpose and of course its public image. Here's a direct quote from Stephen Schwebel, former head of the International Court of Justice in the Hague:
"Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully [Jordan's 1948-1967 occupation of Judea and Samaria], the state which subsequently takes that territory [Israel] in the lawful exercise of self-defense [1967 War] has, against that prior holder, better title." - Stephen Schwebel, "What Weight to Conquest," American Journal of International Law, vol. 64 (1970) pp. 345-347For a fascinating discussion about how Israel got really bad legal advice from then Military Advocate-General Meir Shamgar, which gave birth to this pernicious myth, read this (rather long but worthwhile) piece.
If you do nothing else, be sure to click here for this required reading!
"Green line" (1967 "borders") Myth:
The Green Line, which separates Israel proper from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is nothing more than the 1949 cease fire line. Contrary to what the media would have you believe, it's not a recognized international border and never was. It was always meant to be temporary and never legally binding. Article 2 of the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan clearly states
"...no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations."which means that the Green Line was nothing more than a line in the sand separating the armies of Israel and Jordan and had no bearing whatsoever on any future territorial claims by either party. Don't be fooled by those media spin artists!
In fact, as a result of the 1994 peace agreement (see Article 3) with Jordan, the Green Line was effectively erased and replaced with a "mauve" international border line on the map corresponding to the Jordan River. That the world doesn't realize this is unfortunate but the facts remain.
"The armistice agreements of 1949 expressly preserved the territorial claims of all parties and did not purport to establish definitive boundaries between them." - Justice in International Law Selected Writings of Judge Stephen M. Schwebel (Cambridge University Press, 1994)The importance placed on the Green Line as a border is misleading and wrong and is just a ploy to compel Israel to withdraw back to the indefensible 1949 armistice line, in violation of the spirit and the letter of UNSC Resolution 242. Facts are facts. The true internationally recognized eastern boundary of Israel is the Jordan River. You've heard the lies and the spin, now get the real story here.
"Demographic Threat" Myth:
The political Left has been force-feeding the Israeli public with this one for years. They say you can't have a Democratic Israel with the "territories" because then the Jewish majority gets diluted by the millions of Arabs living there. For Israel to remain Jewish, they say, it must either forego democracy or Judea and Samaria. Although they sold most of the Israeli people this bill of goods, somebody finally woke up and decided to count the change:
"Since 1997, Israel’s leaders have based their policies towards the Palestinians on what was perceived as a madly ticking Palestinian demographic time bomb. The public was told that the Palestinian population in Jerusalem, Gaza, Judea and Samaria was rapidly expanding and that by 2015, Jews would lose our majority west of the Jordan River. If we didn’t hurry up and hand over Judea, Samaria and Gaza and partition Jerusalem, we would find ourselves forced to choose between a Jewish state and a democratic one.
"The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) took it upon itself to do what no Israeli governmental body had considered doing: It… started counting heads. It worked out that the doomsday scenario was based on a massive fabrication. In 1997, the PA published census figures that exaggerated its population figures in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem by nearly 50 percent(!). The PA double counted Arab Jerusalemites, included hundreds of thousands of emigrants to its population rolls, asserted mass immigration when in fact there has been net emigration from the PA since 1995. It exaggerated fertility rates and underplayed mortality rates. In all, the PA added approximately 1.4 million people who did not exist to its population rolls.
"Rather than 3.8 million Palestinians, the team found there were likely no more, and perhaps less than 2.4 million Palestinians. Jews, who make up an 80 percent majority within sovereign Israel, make up a 59% majority of the population of Israel with Gaza and Judea and Samaria and a 67% majority of the population with Judea and Samaria without Gaza." - From Caroline Glick's "Where Israel Went Astray", January 2007, based on the Begin-Sadat Center For Strategic Studies, Mideast Security and Policy Studies No. 65According to this study, Judea and Samaria was home to only around 1.4 million "Palestinians" and not the much higher figures quoted by the Arabs and Israeli Left. This is very significant because the smaller the West Bank Arab population, the less potent the demographic "Time Bomb". But it goes further than that. It has also been shown that many of these West Bank Arabs would leave if given the chance. A 2004 poll conducted by Ma'agar Mochot and The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion revealed that according to a representative sample of the adult Arab population in Judea and Samaria, over 40% of the respondents have considered emigrating permanently to some other country. Furthermore, 70% identified some form of material measure, translatable into monetary terms (such as accommodation, education, financial compensation, etc.), that could bring them to emigrate permanently while only 15% stated that that no inducement could prompt them to leave their present place of residence permanently. Also, 17% of individuals over age 17 would emigrate abroad immediately if they had the resources to do so, according to the study.
Think about it. A million-plus fewer West Bank Arabs than commonly assumed, with many or most of then amenable to being bought out. Not exactly a ticking time bomb and no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water. The Left's "Demographic Threat" is nothing more than an elaborate scare tactic designed to demoralize an uninformed Israeli public.
"Palestinian People" Myth:
"Palestinians"? There ain't no such thing. Shocked? Of course you are, because all we ever hear about is the suffering of those "poor Palestinians". But in truth the whole "Palestinian People" thing was made up as a public opinion weapon to be used against Israel in order to delegitimize her rightful claim to the land. And here it is, in their own words:
1. "There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity, because it is in the interest of the Arabs to encourage a separate Palestinian identity in contrast to Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity." - Zuheir Mohsen, head of the Saiqa terrorist organization, head of PLO military operations and a member of its Supreme Council as interviewed by James Dorsey in the Dutch daily Trouw, March 31, 1977.
2. "The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land...Palestine has never existed...as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland. There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc." - Joseph Farah, Myths of the Middle East
3. "The Palestinians: No, they are not any ancient people, but claim to be. They were born in a single day, after a war that lasted six days in 1967." - From this long but enlightening essay.
4. And finally, this from U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) delivered on the Senate floor, March 4, 2002:
"Mark Twain -- Samuel Clemens -- took a tour of Palestine in 1867. This is how he described that land. We are talking about Israel now. He said: 'A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.'"
"Where was this great Palestinian nation? It did not exist. It was not there. Palestinians were not there. Palestine was a region named by the Romans, but at that time it was under the control of Turkey, and there was no large mass of people there because the land would not support them."
Here's some refreshing straight talk about the big "Palestinian" bluff and their theft of Jewish identity, from the late Land of Israel leader Tzafrir Ronen:
Test your knowledge of "Palestine". Don't worry if you cannot think of any answers.
"Settlements Violate International Law" Myth:
It pays to read the fine print carefully. Israel bashers love to accuse the Jewish State of breaking international law by "proving" that the settlement enterprise violates the 1949 Fourth Geneva Conventions, meant to protect civilians in times of war, by misinterpreting its Article 49. A close reading of this article reveals that while it prohibits "individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons" from the territories in question (which Israel does not do), the "Occupying Power" (which Israel isn't) is obliged not to "deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population" to such territories, also which Israel doesn't do. Though Israel does subsidize the settlements, the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria is a result of their own voluntary relocation and NOT of any active or forcible Israeli deportation or transfer of its own civilians. Article 49 does NOT oblige Israel to prevent voluntary settlement by its civilian population to these areas.
In any case, since neither Jordan, nor any other state, has ever had legal claim or title to these territories (i.e. Judea, Samaria and Gaza), there is, by definition, no "occupation", which renders Article 49 irrelevant and inapplicable in this case (see "Occupation Myth" section above). The absence of an alternative sovereign claimant to this land is significant in that the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically addresses a state's action in the territory of another sovereign state (see article 2 which refers to "High Contracting Parties", which refers to states only) and there is no such other state in the case of Judea and Samaria. Moreover, because Israel captured the Shomron in a defensive war, there is no legal obligation, according to international law, for her to relinquish control over it, certainly not to the aggressor. Eugene Rostow, former Dean of Yale Law School, U.S. Undersecretary of State under the Johnson administration and lead drafter of UNSC Resolution 242, put it aptly when he opined:
"Israel has an unassailable legal right to establish settlements in the West Bank"
Israel should vigorously protest the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, as this territory was captured in 1967 as a result of a defensive war against Jordan, which had illegally occupied it since 1948.
Still don't get it? Avi Abelow explains it to you in this informative video: