As a historian and defender of a Jewish and democratic Israel, I object to Stephen M. Flatow’s rewriting of history. “UN calls it ‘Palestinian territory,’ history says it’s not” (Jan. 6) has two big errors of historical fact and one puzzling assertion. The first error concerns international law, the second one the Balfour Declaration. The puzzling assertion involves Security Council Resolution 2334.
International law grants no standing to the Hebrew Bible. The occupation of the West Bank since Israel’s significant military victory in 1967 is an occupation. Settlements are not permitted in occupied territory under international law (Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949). Flatow’s biblical references to Judea and Samaria have no standing to challenge an illegal occupation.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917, which Flatow treats as a warrant for territorial rights extending to Jordan itself, refers only to “a national home for the Jewish people” and does not preclude other peoples also making it their national home. The Declaration states, in fact, that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
Finally, Flatow challenges the term “Palestinian territory” introduced in Security Council Resolution 2334. Do 2.7 million Palestinians live without a foot on the ground in the West Bank? His challenge to “Palestinian territory,” a term used by the EU and other international bodies, is puzzling, Let’s debate annexationist claims with attention to the facts.
Daniel P. Resnick
Professor of History Emeritus
Carnegie Mellon University
Careful what you wish for
This is an ominous time for our beloved Israel.
President Barack Obama, who has provided our ally an unprecedented amount of aid, leaves office, and the “new sheriff in town” appears likely to demonstrate that he is the same bull in the china shop that he was throughout his loathsome and despicable campaign for the presidency.
The president-elect seemed to believe that he became our nation’s leader on election night; thus, he has felt emboldened to meddle in U.S. affairs, including involving himself with the Egyptian president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to influence the U.S. vote on the United Nations’ resolution condemning Israel for expanded settlement activity, on which the U.S. abstained, paving the way for its 14-0 passage by the Security Council.
Flames have been fanned by Donald Trump in naming his bankruptcy attorney, David Friedman, to be our ambassador to Israel. The inflammatory and inexperienced counselor has eschewed a two-state solution, supported expanded Israeli settlements and shamefully denigrated those who have sought to make peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors.
Friedman has outrageously labeled Obama a “virulent anti-Semite” and has used the reprehensible word “kapo” to characterize the members of J Street, the liberal Jewish group that has often been critical of Israel and has fought for implementation of the two-state solution. (Kapos were those who were compelled or who willingly cooperated with the Nazis in their efforts to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.)
An additional irritant is the apparent intent of the Trump administration to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is certain to ignite an international uproar.
Israel and Netanyahu should be careful what they wish for in the administration of their “friend,” Donald Trump. As unfailing support is offered, the Arab world will see the posture of the new administration as telling it to drop dead. I believe the cost will be steep, as terrorism perpetrated against Israeli civilians resumes.
Upper Saint Clair