The Folly Of Illegitimacy

The Folly Of Illegitimacy…
by Gerald A. Honigman

So, all who are tuned in have probably heard by now that the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on February 18th that would have condemned Israeli settlements. In doing so, President Obama’s appointed representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice, lashed out at Israel, stating that America agrees with the rest of the members about “the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”

This was nothing new. Rice has a long history of focusing upon Israel’s alleged sins. In this, however, she’s merely a pea in the current administration’s large pod.

Volumes have been devoted to the legitimacy issue of Israeli Jews living in areas within the original April 25, 1920 border of the Mandate of Palestine. Recall that the eastern edge of that border took it right up to the present nation of Iraq, then the Mandate of Mesopotamia. Jews, Arabs, and others were allowed to live anywhere in the Mandate.

Indeed, the Minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the United Nations’ predecessor, the League of Nations, showed scores of thousands of Arabs pouring into the Mandate from elsewhere due to the economic development occurring due to the Jews.

Thousands of other Arabs had arrived in the latter 19th century with Muhammad Ali and son Ibrahim Pasha’s Egyptian armies and never left. Solid documentation from numerous other sources testifies to this huge influx of Arabs into the Mandate of Palestine from elsewhere as well…Arabs setting up Arab settlements in Palestine. Experts suggest that the number was even far greater due to many Arabs arriving into the Mandate across porous borders under the cover of darkness–so were never recorded. Before we leave this thought, consider the following…

After a half dozen Arab nations attacked a minuscule Israel in 1948 (created on a tiny fraction of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine), two refugee situations were created. The whole world knows of the Arabs who fled the fighting–at the prompting of their leaders to make way for an easy Arab victory (as related by many Arab leaders themselves, including Mahmoud Abbas)–but far less know of the Jews from allegedly “Arab” lands who fled in the opposite direction. The latter numbered at least as many, if not more, than the former and left far more wealth and property behind.

Concerning the Arabs in the Mandate, after the Arab attack on Israel in 1948 backfired, the United Nations Relief Works Agency–UNRWA–was set up to assist Arab refugees. In doing this, the very word “refugee” had to be redefined from its prior meaning of persons normally and traditionally resident to those who had lived in the Mandate for a minimum of only two years prior to 1948. Please ponder the implications of this…and also consider that no such agency was created to assist Jewish or any other refugees.

After Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill’s gift to Arab nationalism of almost 80% of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine with the creation of the Emirate of Transjordan in 1922, Jews were henceforth forbidden to live east of the Jordan River.

When Transjordan joined other Arab states in attacking a re-born Israel in May 1948, it grabbed the areas known as Judea and Samaria for thousands of years on the west bank of the river. While ancient Jewish communities were massacred by Arabs earlier in the 1920s and 1930s, Transjordan officially made these lands also Judenrein after conquering them.

So, Jews–who, along with Arabs, were supposed to be able to live anywhere in the Mandate according to the Balfour Declaration–were now forbidden to own land or live in roughly 90% of the original 1920 Mandate. Israel wound up with some 12% of the original Mandate of Palestine’s territory.

Here is where the “legitimacy” issue comes into play…

First of all, please note that in Arab eyes, the whole region is solely theirs and they call it “purely Arab patrimony”–despite scores of millions of non-Arab peoples who live there…subjugated and frequently massacred by Arab rulers. So, when anything related to Israel is called “illegitimate,” please keep this in mind. The fight has never been over how big Israel is, but that Israel is.

When Transjordan grabbed Judea and Samaria after its ’48 attack of Israel, only two nations recognized the legitimacy of that conquest–Great Britain and Pakistan.

Therefore, newly re-named “Jordan” (holding both banks of the River, it was no longer just “Trans-“) was not the legitimate owner of the West Bank.

When Jordan’s young ruler, King Hussein, decided to join his Arab brothers’ in Egypt and Syria renewed attempt on Israel’s life and shelled Israel’s Jerusalem in 1967, Jordan lost the lands it had earlier illegally grabbed from the remainder of the Mandate of Palestine.

Now, crucial to this discussion, is the fact that the lands in question were not exclusively Arab lands–though Arabs proclaim them to be…again, as they do practically everywhere else in the region as well.

Many experts on international law have testified to this, and while it’s not now politically correct to make this point, all of the key architects (Lord Caradon, Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow, etc.) of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 were unambiguous here. The careful wording of the final draft of 242 became the key instruments for peace-making between Arab and Jew in the region, and it was passed by the same organization which is now set to toss it out of the window.

All the architects agreed that all residents–not just Arabs–had the right to live anywhere they wanted in the part of the Mandate left after the creation of Transjordan in 1922.

242 allows any withdrawal by Israel from territories acquired in its war for survival in 1967–at some future time and in the context of real peace-making– to be done in a way to provide Israel with real, more defensible, and secure borders to replace its former 1949 armistice lines. Those lines merely marked the spots where fighting stopped after the Arab attack in 1948 and made Israel a mere nine to fifteen miles wide in the area where most of its population and infrastructure are located–a constant temptation to Arabs to sever it in half. After the ’67 War, there is no doubt that a territorial compromise over the disputed–not “purely Arab”– territories was the intent of 242 and built into its careful wording as well.

All of the above is the necessary background one needs to make better sense of the language–folly, illegitimacy, and so forth–now being used today in dealing with this crucial issue.

The building freeze and settlements issues are all about whether Israel gets the territorial compromise promised by 242–which would allow Judeans–Jews–to return to Judea and provide Israel with real, more defensible, more secure borders–or whether it will be bullied back to what the late Abba Eban called its Auschwitz lines existence.

With all the turmoil in the Middle East involving one despot or another, the importance of Israel getting the territorial compromise inherent in 242 becomes more important, not less.

Treaties of peace–even cold, but real ones, like with Egypt or Jordan–can be torn up or emasculated to the point where they become meaningless. There is a real threat of that happening today–regardless of the Egyptian military’s early statements which were likely issued to keep the flow of American aid coming.

In future Egyptian elections, the direct or indirect influence of the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood cannot be ignored. Add to this the fact that secular potential presidential and other candidates have also come out against the peace accord with Israel.

What Israel faces with more honest, rejectionist Hamasniks or game playing, latter-day Arafatian Fatahniks ( who call all dealings with Jews a Trojan Horse) makes it only more imperative that Israel gets something meaningful and concrete in return for any further concessions it makes to the birth of the Arabs’ twenty-second state and second, not first, in Palestine–and on other fronts as well (i.e., the Golan Heights).

To not insist upon the United Nations Security Council upholding the intent of its own earlier resolution–242–which allows for such crucial compromise over the disputed territories, would be the real folly regarding allegations of illegitimacy Israel now faces. Caving in to an assortment of the world’s hypocrites, who fight wars, topple regimes, and acquire territories thousands of miles away from home in the name of their own nations’ security–would simply be a recipe for Israel’s destruction.

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