Article By Meir Gross

[Comments are welcome at our Dialogue Corner]

Poison

The chaos that seized Israel leads many people to build thick walls around themselves. Unlike individuals who isolate themselves in private bubbles, people in official positions can cause much damage if they lose touch with reality. Moreover, they seem to be exposed to lethal poison that destroys our chances of survival. Let us look at two examples:

Adopting the enemy's propaganda

Israel's Ministry of Interior has recently held a study forum for the elected representatives of the local authorities in Judea and Samaria. The professional agency for instruction and development in local authorities invited two lecturers to explain the regional policies of planning and construction. The fact that these experts represented a ministry that attempts to stop serving the Judea and Samaria municipalities has created an unpleasant atmosphere. But the content of their lectures was even worse.

Development in Judea and Samaria has to overcome both the usual Israeli bureaucratic obstacles and various political hurdles and changing policies. It has to comply with several legal systems (Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian and Israeli), overcome difficulties created by civil and military officers and reassure worried investors and contractors. Within this insane chaos, it is impossible to get straight answers to simple questions. This is where one sees the poison at work.

One of the lecturers, a military person working with the Civil Administration's legal department, claimed that an occupying state should not settle its citizens in occupied territories. I tried to follow his logic. Assuming that these terms are legally valid, should Jordan have settled Arabs in the ruined Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967? Should the population of the Arab occupation force have settled the Etzion Region? And what about Neveh-Yaakov, Atarot and Hebron? Were the Jews of Hebron not murdered and their homes invaded by their murderers? The man smiled and said that he was not dealing with history. Interesting point, I thought, since the Jewish settlements in the region are also historical facts...

Then, the man refused to answer a stream of pressing questions: Judea, Samaria and Gaza were occupied by Jordan and Egypt, in blatant violation of International Law and the UN Partition resolution of 29th November 1947. The West Bank was annexed by Jordan but, except for Britain and Pakistan, the international community refused to recognise this annexation. Indeed, it was an illegal occupation and annexation. So what is the legal status of the territories which had no legal sovereignty before 1967? Israel took these territories from illegal invaders through a legal action of self-defence. The same International Law, which is often quoted partially, defines an 'occupied territory' as an area that was under the legal sovereignty of another state. It also recognises the right of any state to defend itself and hold the territories required for its security. International practice has recognised the annexation of the aggressor's territories by the country it had attacked. For example, the international community agreed to annex German territories to its neighbouring countries after World War II. Having been attacked by UN member states, who breached International Law and violated the UN Charter, shouldn't Israel have the same right? The official position of all Israeli governments since 1967 has been that Gaza, Judea and Samaria are 'disputed territories' (since Israel has a valid claim, based on many international resolutions) and not 'occupied territories'. Therefore, the fourth Geneva Convention (1949) does not apply to these regions. Moreover, UN Security Council Resolution 242 obligates Israel to administer these territories until the final, defensible borders are agreed upon in a peace treaty with all its neighbours. This has been Israel's policy for almost 40 years! Moreover, the entire issue is based on our eternal "charter" that was clearly stated in the universally accepted Bible.

But all these points remained unanswered. The legal military man was trapped in his concept, reciting the mantras of "occupied territory", "Geneva Convention" etc. He spoke like the advocate for Israel's enemies, not as an Israeli civil servant!

The Demographic Hoax

Another example is the debate on the demographic question, recently held by a Knesset Committee. Experts have recently shown that there are no more than 2.4 million Arabs living in the territories, as opposed to the staggering 3.8 million figure that is suggested by others. (Incidentally, even the latter have recently admitted that the figure is no more than 3.4 million.)

Mr. Shlomo Yitzhaki, the government's statistician, has admitted in an interview that "we cannot determine which figure is correct..." Yet he criticised the latest research and claimed that "it is a presentation, not a scientific research". On the one hand he claimed that he could not analyse the data and determine the figures, but on the other hand he said that he "accepts the data provided by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics". What is the scientific basis for his position? He provided an amazing explanation: "There is no reason for doubting the validity of their data and it is not my job as statistician to suspect them." This incredible act of faith is hardly scientific... Shouldn't one assume that the Arabs might have a reason to supply false data that serves their struggle? Should one only doubt the validity of the Jewish-Israeli research team?

I keep wondering why some Israelis adopt the enemy's positions. Why do we offer the top positions to those who support our foes? What ever happened to the alleged Jewish wisdom?

Meir Gross, 14/July/2005


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