Israel: Lose Some, Win Some

Israel is in a constant win/lose situation, where actions can be interpreted as against Israel or in its favor.  For much of the past Israel has been on the losing side in the media, although on the winning side where it counts most, in the wars forced on it by the Arab countries.  But, now there are some signs that the tide is turning.

  1. At the UN, for the first time, a bloc of 11 European countries plus a few others, including Brazil and Colombia, voted against an annual GA resolution supporting a special program for the Rights of the Palestinian people.  Note that they never vote to support the rights of the Jewish people.  But, for the first time these countries including Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Romania actually voted against the annual resolution (Malta and Cyprus voted for and the UK, France and Italy abstained).  Nevertheless the resolution passed with the overwhelming support of the Arab countries and those who they have bought. Hopefully this will start a trend.
  2. UNRWA is a corrupt organization, whose Director just resigned amid investigations, that is an active part of the Palestinian movement controlled by Hamas in Gaza and which perpetuates the so-called refugee problem. After the US stopped all payments (m$135) to UNRWA, several other governments followed suit, including Holland and Switzerland.  Altogether UNRWA has a m$200 deficit, but was supposedly able to collect m$135 from its supporter countries. It is also collecting funds from private sources in the US.  But, it is about time, after 70 years, that this supposedly temporary agency was closed down.
  3. Saeid Mollaei an Iranian judoka, defected from Iran because he was ordered to lose a match in Osaka, Japan, so that he could not compete with an Israeli.  He said this was against his beliefs and against the rules of the sport and he finally refused.  Not only does this prove that Iran practices this banned activity, but he is now supported by the International Judo Federation and hopes to compete soon in Israel at a preliminary qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.  Another Iranian Judoka has also followed Mollaei’s lead and defected.
  4. Delegations of Arabs have been visiting Israel, so far two groups of Saudis and Gulf States have toured Israel to see Israel for themselves and how Israeli Arabs are treated.  Israeli athletes have been allowed to compete in the UAE and Oman, even though those countries do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.  We are hoping and waiting for the first Arab country, apart from Egypt and Jordan, to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
  5. A prominent Saudi Journalist visited Israel under cover and mingled with people all over Israel and was amazed at how well he was received, not at all like an enemy.  He concluded that he “loved” Israel and hopes that relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel will be established soon, although maybe not full relations yet. He criticized the Palestinians for not resolving their conflict with Israel.
  6. An annual survey of  73 countries countries in the world by US News and World Report recently determined that little Israel is the 8th most powerful country in the world.  This results from surveys of 20,000 people on many subjects and includes military, economic and technological aspects.  Of course No. 1 is the USA, then China and so on on, but to come 8th out of 73 is indeed an achievement for a small country with only 8 million people!
  7. The French parliament voted by a majority to declare that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.  The French can’t be wrong!  To deny only the Jews the right of self-determination is indeed anti-Semitic.

While improvements of relations with the Arab states are continuing under the mutual Iranian threat, anti-Israel activities are growing stronger throughout the West.  Hardly a day goes by without an attack on religious Jews in Germany, Britain, the US, or swastikas daubed on Jewish gravestones or synagogues. And the BDS movement appears to be gaining strength on campuses, including the involvement of young disaffected Jews.  Shouldn’t they be working to improve relations with Arabs rather than trying to destroy Israel and expressing anti-Semitic tropes.  But, the future is with us.

 

Antisemitism 101

Antisemitism is now a required course on most North American campuses.  There are so many examples it’s hard to know where to start.  Of course, the main excuse given is that the anti-Semites are really anti-Israel, because they are so sympathetic to the poor Palestinians.  But, what do they really know about the Palestinians, and anyway, which Palestinians do they support, the Islamist Hamas in Gaza, or the nationalist Fatah in the Palestine Authority in the West Bank?  Since they are irreconcilable enemies, this choice matters a lot, but they probably don’t even know that.

Here are some recent examples:

  • McGill University, Montreal: Jocelyn Wright, a member of the Board of the Student Society and its Legislative Council, was in effect excluded from her positions because she accepted to go on a trip organized by the Hillel to Israel and the Palestinian territories.  This is a further example of Jewish students on the McGill campus being targeted for their alleged support of Israel
  • Toronto University:  A request by Hillel to make kosher food available on campus was rejected because it was considered to be pro-Israel!  After a media storm the Student Union rescinded it’s decision and apologized, but did not address the anti-Semitic nature of the initial response.  
  • Syracuse University:  Syracuse University has been bombarded by a slew of racist and anti-Semitic incidents.  Campus and city police, New York State Police and the FBI, are trying to solve more than a dozen reports of racist graffiti and vandalism targeting black and Jewish people, Asians and Native Americans since November 7.  There have been more reports of racist graffiti targeting black people, Native Americans and Asians.  A  Jewish professor reported receiving an anonymous email containing anti-Semitic language that included a threat to “get in the oven where you belong.”
  • University of Central Florida: Swastikas and other anti-Semitic comments were posted on a sign that indicated the location of a future Chabad House on the Central Florida University campus.
  • Oberlin College: A display was erected on campus by SFP and JVP with language demonizing Israel and Jews. How can this be allowed in a College that prides itself on being liberal and inclusive.
  • George Washington University, Washington DC: A video was released by two GWU students saying “We’re gonna f—ing bomb Israel.”  Local and federal police were informed and the GWU President Thomas LeBlanc called the video “disturbing.”  This is not an isolated incident of anti-Semitic bigotry at GWU

For a listing of over 3,000 incidents that have occurred since 2015 on American University campuses see https://amchainitiative.org/search-by-incident#incident/display-by-date/.  Most of these examples are related to BDS activities and prevention of Jewish and pro-Israeli speakers being heard on campus. It used to be considered that University was a place for open debate and discussion, but that has long since gone.  Among the worst offenders are Columbia University and many of the supposedly liberal schools. However, speakers from such human rights abusing countries as China, Turkey, and many of the Arab countries are not harassed.  This is clear evidence of anti-Semitism masquerading as concern for human rights.

 

 

Spies and Murderers, Oh My

I know what I’m doing, I’m living vicariously, swapping my humdrum life for the exciting life of spies, mafia dons, and maniacal killers.  But, I’m not uncritical, I don’t swallow what they dish up whole, hence this review of some recent movies/series I’ve watched.  I should mention that I do not watch anything with a super-hero, anything supernatural, no dragons and nothing about boy wizards or snow princesses.  I do however, tend to go for historical dramas and police procedurals. 

Spy: This is an excellent re-telling of the true story of Eli Cohen, played excellently by Sasha Barron Cohen, who came from Egypt to Israel, and because of his fluent Arabic and his steady demeanor became one of the greatest spies ever.  He was an ordinary Israeli who was picked to go to Argentina, with a fictional background of being of Syrian origin.  There he made the acquaintance of the Ambassador Hafez Assad, who later was to become the dictator of Syria.  Eli then moved to Syria and thru his glamorous lifestyle became an insider with the Syrian leadership.  He passed much valuable information to Israel, thru his 8 pm nightly transmissions.  However, because he was always punctual, by closing down all other transmissions in Damascus, they caught him and he was hung in the main square. 

Seven Seconds: This was one of the most gripping and well acted series I have ever seen.  The plot revolves around a young novice detective who is driving fast along an isolated icy road in NJ, talking on his phone to his pregnant wife in hospital, when he hits something.  He stops and gets out and finds that he has hit a black boy on a bicycle. Instead of calling an ambulance he calls his captain, who is corrupt.  He arrives and tells him to go and he and his crew will clean up the scene, because if they call an ambulance he will be crucified, a cop who killed a black kid.  The rest of the story is how the boy’s family suffer, how a detective and a prosecutor solve the case and how justice is not done.

The Irishman: I was disappointed in this movie. Although it was greatly hyped, I felt it did not live up to its reputation given the famous director (Scorsese) and cast (Pacino, Pesci, De Niro). De Niro plays the Irishman, Frank Sheeran, who worked for the mob as an assassin (or in the colorful slang, a house painter). I thought his acting was wooden, and the whole lacking in drama.  Having an old man telling his story was bad, because it told you from the outset that he survived and then it is narrated, and lacks direct impact.  Pesci was the best actor in this cast, he had authority and was reserved.  It ponderously tells the story of how the famous corrupt Teamsters Union boss, Jimmy Hoffa, was murdered. 

Joker:  Although this was a well acted and directed movie with a good plot, I am not sure watching a homicidal maniac at work is my idea of entertainment.  Of course, at first you don’t realize that he is stark raving mad, but then given how he was treated as a child that’s the excuse.  But, acting a crazed murderer is a lot easier than a restrained powerful don. This was an entertaining movie as long as you don’t think too much about its message.   

I’ve also watched British series,”Collateral” and “The Bodyguard” as well as the latest series of “The Crown” and I’m waiting for the next series of Fauda.  All I can say is thank God for Netflix, they provide serious distraction. 

Letter on Legality of Israel’s Borders

An edited and substantially reduced version of this letter was published in the Jerusalem Post on 27 Nov, 2019.

Sir:

I was astounded by the cavalier way in which Gershon Baskin in the Jerusalem Post (“Declarations don’t legalize the illegal,” Nov 21), and many other leftists around the world, including the EU, have dismissed the Declaration of US Secty. of State Pompeo, that the civilian Israeli settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) are not illegal.  That Pompeo stated that his Declaration was the result of an in-depth review of the situation by a State Department special Task Force was ignored.  The received wisdom that these settlements are illegal has been touted without serious consideration since Pres. Carter announced this in a speech in 1978.

The opinion that the settlements are illegal derives mainly from an interpretation of article 49 of the Geneva Convention IV that states that an occupying power is not allowed to settle its civilian population in occupied territory.  But, these territories are not “occupied” by Israel, they were recaptured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and they were an integral part of the Palestine Mandate, of which Israel under international law is the only natural sovereign inheritor Nation.

Uti possidetis juris“ is a principle in international law meaning “as you possess under law,” and is used to define the borders of states that derive either from colonial occupation or from previous unclear origins, as is the case with Israel.  (This is based on an important article entitled “Palestine, Uti Possidetis Juris and The Borders Of Israel by Abraham Bell and Eugene Kontorovich, Arizona Law Review http://arizonalawreview.org/pdf/58-3/58arizlrev633.pdf).

The legal arrangements subsequent to WWI form the basis for Israel’s borders to include Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).  These legal arrangements included the treaty of San Remo in 1920 that incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 that led to the British Mandate of 1922 that was approved by the League of Nations and specifically adopted by its replacement the United Nations when it was established.  Note that in none of these cases was the establishment of an Arab State, or specifically a Palestinian State, envisaged to be included in the British Mandate.  Profs. Bell and Kontorovich have given us the authoritative principle in international law that applies to this and many other cases.

Here are some examples where this principle has been applied and has led to the definition of borders of new states: 1. The States constituting the former Soviet Union, where the historic independent sovereign borders were used to reconstitute the new borders; 2. Similarly with the former Yugoslavia that gave rise to several new states based on previous borders; 3. The British Mandate of Mesopotamia and the borders of Iraq and Kuwait; 4. The French Mandate of Syria and the borders of Syria, Lebanon and Turkey; 5. The borders between Rwanda and Burundi; 6. The borders of Cameroon and Togo.  Since the principle of border demarcation is clear in these examples, it should be applied equally to the issue of Israel’s undefined borders. When Britain unilaterally awarded the area of Transjordan to the Emir Abdullah in 1922 in doing so they demarcated the administrative legal boundary of Western Palestine as the Jordan River.

Regarding the borders of Israel, uti possidetis juris dictates recognition of the borders of Israel as coinciding with the borders of the Palestine Mandate as of 1948. This is a clear and definitive statement rendering the Israeli settlements legal and justifying Israel’s claims to the territories.

Yours

Jack Cohen

Professor

 

Iranian Demonstrations

Iran can be added to the growing list of countries experiencing major popular demonstrations.  So far there are Hong Kong, Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, France and Colombia.  The specific cause in each case may be different, but the general rule is that they are all fed-up with the treatment of ordinary citizens by their governments.  In the case of Iran the protests were initiated by a doubling of the price of gasoline, and this in a country that has huge reserves of oil.  But, the lowering of the oil prices world-wide and the severe sanctions that have been imposed by the US and some other countries, have caused the Iranian economy to deteriorate precipitously.  This was the reason they increased the price of gasoline, since the government is running out of money.

The citizens then protest and riot because they are hardly able to live, and the government services are cut, yet at the same time Iran is supporting a huge military budget, carrying out wars in Syria, and Yemen, and supporting militias in Gaza (Palestine Islamic Jihad), Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Iraq (numerous Shia militias).   Often this is a pattern, governments that have massive foreign military entanglements, yet neglect the interests of their own citizens.  Many in the West and Israel hope that this popular unrest will lead to a major conflagration (such as in Hong Kong), where the people are totally fed-up with an oppressive and unpopular regime and come to the conclusion that they won’t take it anymore.  Of course, the regime then blames the Western enemies for the unrest at home.

In Iran the regime have large numbers of militias, called Bahij, who are para-military and who are certainly prepared to massacre civilians in order to protect the clerical regime of the Ayatollahs.  Until now it is estimated that ca. 150 have been killed, but the total is probably much more than this. Whether or not they will remain loyal under the circumstances of major demonstrations and riots remains to be seen.  We in the West say Iran for the Iranians, not for the Ayatollahs and their foreign jihadi wars.   

The Settlements are Legal!

In 1978, Pres. Carter in a speech labelled the Israeli civilian settlements on what has been called the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) as “illegal under international law.”  Since then this has become an article of faith among the anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian liberal-left.  But,  after a careful investigation by a State Department Task Force based entirely on legal considerations, this view was reversed and Secty. of State Mike Pompeo declared today that the US now considers these civilian settlements as not illegal under international law., 

The opinion that the settlements were illegal derives entirely from an interpretation of article 49 of the Geneva Convention IV, that states that an occupying power is not allowed to settle its civilian population in occupied territory.  But, these territories are not “occupied” by Israelthey were recaptured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and they are an integral part of the Holy Land, and an integral part of the Palestine Mandate, of which Israel under international law is the only natural sovereign inheritor Nation.  This gives Israel a legitimate claim to these territories, including Judea from where the Jews originated and are its indigenous inhabitants.

Note that Jordan claimed the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied” territories during the period 1948-1967, but the Jordanian claim to the territories was never recognized by the international community and the UN. So in fact Israel is the only recognized sovereign Nation that has ever claimed these territories since WWI when they were captured from the Ottoman Empire by British forces.

In the event that the Palestine Authority, established under the Oslo Accords with Israeli agreement, is unwilling to engage in negotiations with Israel over the future of these territories, then Israel is within its legal right to annex the West Bank, just as it has annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Those who support a Palestinian claim to these territories are in fact the ones supporting an illegal and spurious claim. At a certain point, as a result of the intransigence of the Palestinians and their supporters to recognize the legitimate claim of Israel, she will have no alternative but to annex them.

Rocket Attack 2.10 am

It’s 2.10 am in Beersheva and the siren of the Red Alert just went off.  It was loud and urgent. I staggered out of bed still half-asleep and ran into my secure room.  My cell phone also buzzed with the alert from the Home Front Command.  About 2 mins after I reached the room there were two very loud thuds, not explosions, but certainly something very heavy hitting the earth, and it was nearby.  If I had to guess I would say it was no more than two to three houses south of my house.  But, I could be completely wrong about that.  Let’s hope it did not hit anyone’s home or harm anyone!

I would like to go out to see, but of course that is forbidden.  I am not sure what to do now, they don’t sound an all-clear signal, as they used to do in London during WWII.  I believe after 10 mins it’s safe to go back to bed.  My father was a Civil Defense warden during WWII, and he would go around telling people to go back into their houses, instead of standing in the middle of the street during the night looking up at the planes flying overhead and the bombs falling all around them.  He used to tell me that the women would say, about the trails left by the planes and the dogfights and the searchlights seeking  the enemy out and the ack-ack guns blasting away and the red-orange explosions going off from the German bombs dropped, “‘ere Fred, ain’t it pretty!”

But, of course these are unguided missiles, the cheapest thing to produce, that have clearly been fired by PIJ on orders of their Iranian bosses in defiance of the ceasefire.  I hope the IAF is now blasting them in Gaza.  I know it’s not supposed to be “polite” to wish for someone else’s death, but this is war and in war you have to kill the enemy, as they try to kill us, until someone wins, or call’s “uncle.”   We have to have deterrence over them so that they know that if they fire rockets they will get far more damage and hurt than we will.  Ideally we should defeat them militarily once and for all, but that would require a full invasion of the Gaza Strip and given that they have at least 10,000 trained men (often not in uniform), it’s not an easy task.  So “mowing the lawn,” hitting a certain number of selected targets, like barracks, training facilities, rocket assembly factories, and targeted killings of leaders, is usually the response.  The IAF actually tries to avoid civilian casualties,  but doesn’t always succeed.  

Well, it’s 2.40 am and no further alarms, so back to bed I go!