From Ynet News: [and see comment at the end]Settlers and human rights
Op-ed: West Bank Jews claim too often and too loudly that their rights are grounded on scriptures
The case for Jews to reside in Judea and Samaria is solid. It is regrettable the world has yet to realize this. The blame must not be laid on global anti-Semitism or ignorance about the roots of the Israeli-Arab conflict, but mainly on the way Jewish rights have been justified to date.
Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria claim too often and too loudly that their rights are grounded on scriptures. This argument, legitimate as it may be to a religious Zionist or Evangelical public, is a losing argument when addressed to everyone else: It is a losing argument when presented to Muslims who can quote Islamic jurisprudence to corroborate their claims over the whole of Eretz Yisrael. It is a losing argument with secular Jews and Christians, who believe that the interpretation of international law should not be conditioned by the Bible. It is even a losing argument among those ultra-orthodox Jews who believe that the Talmud disavows contemporary Jewish claims in the Holy Land.
Given these precedents, is it really surprising that the White House, the European Union and the United Nations refuse to acknowledge the rights of Jews to reside in the West Bank? Couching the case for Jews to reside in Judea and Samaria in religious language has done incalculable damage to a cause which is primarily one of historical and human rights.
We will not dwell on Jewish historical rights over Judea and Samaria. These have been elucidated elsewhere and are well-known to most readers.[no, he's wrong -- very few people understand what the Mandate for Palestine was all about, or for that matter that it was not, could not be, extinguished by the coming into existence of the U.N., and Israel's rights to the territory assigned to that Mandate remained, and remain still] It is high-time to discuss the rights of Jews to reside in the West Bank in terms of human rights. Is this a joke? To those who conflate human rights with the goals of the Palestinian liberation movement, probably. But let us take these peace activists to task: If Jews were once again denied the right to reside in England or Spain these pacifists would be appalled. At the same time these pacifists deny analogous rights to Jews who have for decades resided peacefully in West Bank towns like Efrat and Ariel.
Lofty rhetoric. Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: AFP)
Let us believe that they genuinely support Jews' right to live in peace and security in the West. Yet by denying similar rights to Jews in the Middle East these pacifists implicitly deny universal human rights standards. Misguided cultural relativism pushes them to hold the West - and Israel - accountable to a sterling standard while excusing members of non-Western cultures for such immoral acts as bombing civilians, preaching violence in the name of God and planning the mass expulsion of religious minorities.
Israel should perhaps forgive Western pacifists for their naïveté. But can it condone the hypocrisy of the Arab leadership? If Abbas and the Palestinian Authority genuinely desired peace and reconciliation between Jews and Arabs, they would invite the Jewish residents of the West Bank to apply for citizenship in a future Palestinian state. To accept Jewish neighbors on their soil would be the best way to prove that a future Palestinian state would be a tolerant multi-religious and multiethnic society. It would also be the best way to reassure Israelis that a Palestinian state would be a peaceful neighbor. Nevertheless, Palestinian leaders openly vaunt their determination to cleanse all Jews from the West Bank.
The irony cannot be missed that Abbas, for all his lofty rhetoric about democracy and human rights, strives to establish an ethnically pure Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza.
The court of world history will praise Nelson Mandela for reassuring whites that a post-apartheid South Africa would not curtail their civil and property rights. There is no reason for the international community not to demand the same assurances from the Palestinian leadership with regards to Jews. These assurances would demonstrate that Palestinians genuinely respect the rights of minorities and that they are ready to avoid the mistakes of independence movements elsewhere in the Arab world.
As long as the Palestinian leadership does not give Jews assurances analogous to those given by Nelson Mandela, there is every reason to believe that the profligate use of the word "peace" by Abbas is a mantra devoid of all substance and honesty. Under these circumstances a Palestinian state should not be established.
It is the right and the duty of Israel's government to justify its reticence towards the establishment of a Palestinian state on human rights grounds. It is respect for universal principles of human rights - not the sacrifice of human beings to placate Islamism and Arab nationalism - that will bring genuine peace to the Middle East. Israel should remind the world about this truth.
The author's main point -- that those who rely on appeals to the Bible to support Israel -- win over those who are already won, that is those who take the Bible most old-testamentishly to heart, but will not win over others -- is certainly worth making.
But I disagree with the writer when he passes over, too quickly and too cavalierly, the legal case (that is, the one based on the intent of the League of Nations' Mandates Commission when, among other Middle-Eastern mandates, they set one up for the establishment of the Jewish National Home in Palestne): "We will not dwell on Jewish historical rights over Judea and Samaria. These have been elucidated elsewhere and are well-known to most readers."
Furthermore, the author ignores the role that the invention of the "Palestinian people" -- the most important element in the Arab propaganda campaign based on that same appeal to human rights that Rafael Castro wishes to make the basis for Israel's argument for itself -- an invention designed to obscure the nature of the unending war against not Israel but, rather, the "Infidel nation-state of Israel," by Muslim Arabs, and those Muslims who are most Muslim, and also least obviously affected by, or perhaps even hostile for historical reasons to, those same Arabs (Kurds, Berbers, and even Iranians and Turks are the Muslims who, historically, have had reason to regard Arab Musilms with fear, or hatred, or contempt, or all three, while Pakistani Musilms, who possess no historical memory of anything other than Islam, are as a consequence as fanatically anti-Israel as the Arabs themselves).
The most important thing for Israel to do is not to defend itself at all, but to go on the offensive, and to explain, using quotes from the Arabs themselves, when and how and why the "Palestinian people" were invented, and what was the intent of the Mandates system (and not failing to mention the need to fulfill the promise of the originally-envisioned Kurdish state, and also the need for a Christian haven in Lebanon and part of Syria, perhaps in some sort of loose aliance with Israel, the already established haven for the Jews in a murderous Muslim sea).
Still, the author's cri de coeur about human rights is worth reading, and his doubts about the usefulness of invoking Biblical rights (but just how many Israeli government officials do that, anyway? I haven't heard any do so, and Netanyahu invokes history, not religion) worth considering.