By Larry Gordon
On so many levels, the shtick pulled by the Barack Obama and John Kerry team over the last couple of weeks in an effort to somehow additionally hamstring Israel is no surprise.
Obama, with Kerry’s not-so-wise and very unsuccessful
foreign-policy acumen, was committed to parting the international political scene with—if nothing else—one international accomplishment: leaving Israel with as big a global headache as possible.
Only time will tell how effective their backstabbing machinations will be. For the Palestinians—the alleged beneficiaries of these maneuvers—it amounts to a fleeting public-relations coup with no real or substantive results. Nothing changes on the ground, and the eventual outcome of the 14–0 Security Council vote, with the U.S. abstaining, criticizing Israel’s settlement policies, is an additional setback to an already remote possibility of any kind of functional talks between the parties.
It is important for all of us to be aware of some obscure facts about the reality on the ground and what it has been twisted into by the Obamas and Kerrys of the world.
Firstly, from a historical perspective, according to international law, there is no such entity or location known as “Palestinian lands.” Land today that Israeli courts might designate as being owned in some fashion by private citizens who identify themselves as Palestinian Arabs is one thing, but there is no territory in what is today the State of Israel or even in so-called disputed territories that ever belonged to an Arab Palestine.
The areas known today as Judea and Samaria were captured or previously held illegally by Jordan, a country that was never sovereign on these lands, just as the Gaza Strip once belonged to Egypt before it was lost in a war started by Egypt in 1967.
Israel is in the diplomatic quagmire it is in today because of its national reluctance to assert its legal right and sovereignty over these lands. Dating back to Camp David and the Oslo Accords, Israelis were willing to give up serious and significant amounts of land in exchange for a genuine peace and an opportunity to live side by side with their Arab neighbors.
The sacrifices that Israeli leaders were willing to make, however, were mistaken as conceding that Israel, or Jews, for that matter, had no claim or right to the land. The reluctance of the Arab leadership to accept anything short of the dismantling of the modern Jewish state as we know it today has resulted in the present standoff.
Prime Minister Netanyahu established a committee to study the status of the so-called “occupied territories” in 2012 but failed to adopt the committee’s favorable findings because of the fear of how the international community would react. The Levy Report, officially called Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, is an 89-page report on West Bank settlements published on July 9, 2012, authored by a three-member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy. The committee, dubbed the “outpost committee,” was appointed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late January 2012 to investigate the legal status of unauthorized West Bank Jewish settlements, but also examined whether the Israeli presence in the West Bank is to be considered an occupation or not.
The report concludes that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not an occupation, and that the Israeli settlements are legal under international law. It recommends the legalization of unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts by the state, and provides proposals for new guidelines for settlement construction.
In May 2014, it was reported that the government was covertly carrying out the recommendations of the report.
If any government is ever going to adopt the Levy Commission findings it is the current government with its right-leaning composition. Not having the courage to take a stand on the territories leaves Israel wide open to be savaged and picked apart like it was two weeks ago by the UN Security Council and in the aftermath of the passage of that resolution by President Obama and Secretary Kerry.
Just about every modern Israeli leader has sought to protect the integrity of the land in Israel, albeit with varying motivations. For Menachem Begin, it might have been a combination of history and religious beliefs. For Ariel Sharon, it seemed to have been mostly a fierce nationalism combined with his military insight and knowhow.
For leaders like Rabin and Olmert, it may have been some of the above, though both were avowed secularists. The pertinent question is whether the motivating or mitigating factors really make a difference.
The diverse people of Israel have a right to be safe and not have their lives and the status of the country they live in bounced around like a ping-pong ball, first in this direction and then in that one.
For Bibi Netanyahu, it seems it is a little bit of everything. He has made frequent reference to the biblical land of Israel. At the same time he tries to be a pragmatist, speaking the diplomatic language that mostly achieves something between uncertainty and confusion.
Now in the last few days of the disappointing Obama administration, it is not exactly shocking that the president is allowing his heretofore relatively contained hostility for Israel to spill over. How fortunate we all are—and especially Israel—that this is the end of this particular leader’s reign.
And there seems to be little doubt that with the advent of the incoming Trump administration, G-d is indeed watching over Eretz Yisrael. Where we would be if Hillary Clinton had triumphed instead of Mr. Trump is in and of itself an interesting exercise.
Some say that had Hillary won, Obama would not have abstained at the UN last week so as not to handicap Mrs. Clinton’s hopeful efforts to be the one that achieves peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the idea of a country called Palestine and a history of a great Palestinian people is mostly a fiction that the world—uncomfortable with the idea of a Jewish state—is desperate to hoist on the region and the Jewish people.
The world and the technologically advanced media are still somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that being anti-Israel or anti-Zionist is the newest and purest form of old-fashioned Jew-hatred and anti-Semitism. The world—whether on the news or at the UN—is trying to split hairs and demonstrate that it is possible to hate Israel and love Jews.
It’s possibly a nice try and even a good idea, but it just does not seem to be working out so far. And those exposed for their hypocrisy directed at Jews and Israel run the gamut from the ignorant kid on some remote college campus in the hinterlands to the president of the United States in the Oval Office.
The president is almost gone. Long live the president.
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.