“Israel's declaration of independence was based on the Partition Plan--it declared itself a state in the areas allocated to it by the UN. That's why I'd argue it's the cornerstone for its legal sovereignty.
I don't see how Jordan could have occupied the WB illegally, but Israel did so legally. Neither had an international legal claim to the area (the argument that Jews have an ancient claim to the land isn't an international-legal one in the context being discussed here). The Partition Plan didn't designate that area to Israel, and the Mandate didn't specify which areas would belong to the Jewish community (the Mandate did not provide for the creation of a Jewish state anywhere in its borders, only a "national home," and the home's borders were not specified).”
“I'm not sure how 242 gives Israel sovereignty over the entire West Bank. It states the opposite, by referring to "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and calls for Israel to withdraw from territories occupied in the war. Nowhere is that conditioned on Palestinians coming to the negotiating table (at that time, Egypt and Jordan were the go-to actors on the future of Gaza and the West Bank).
The question of the final disposition of the West Bank is separate from my post. But since you asked, I'm not sure why the lack of a Palestinian state under Jordan between 1949 and 1967 should condition the reality of the WB today. Nor was the WB legally part of Israel in 1948--the British Mandate didn't stipulate a Jewish state in that area, and the Partition Plan--which is the cornerstone for Israel's existence today, gave much of the WB to an Arab state, not Israel.”
bluebeyond on Aug 6, 2012 at 11:26:57
“The Partition Plan became a legal nullity - of no legal consequence whatsoever. The entire mandate territory was without a sovereignty reversioner following the British withdrawal. When the dust settled following war, Israel was sovereign behind the Green Line and Jordan was the illegal occupier of the West Bank. When Jordan was displaced by Israel in 1967, Israel became the lawful occupier of territory and with a claim to sovereignty superior to any other.
Palestinians have no legal standing. They are a political factor only, with an opportunity to negotiate for territory but no legal entitlement to it.
No question that the current status has a negative impact on Palestinian development, a circumstance that they have had many opportunities to remedy.”
Yarden on Aug 5, 2012 at 16:24:09
242 is an extremely simple concept, and this concept is no peace no land. 242 does not ask Israel to withdraw all of its territory but only the territory mutually agreed upon with the PA through negotiations. Not sure how you define the West Bank as "occupied" considering its neither a country nor does it hold any higher contracting power of any merit. Egypt and Jordan illegally occupied the Palestinian people, refused citizenship of these people, restricted travel and demolished the concept of Palestinian statehood. But you can call them the " go to" boys if you wish.
The "West Bank" is really and legally Judea and Samara which was part of the land of Israel in 1948. When the Arabs went on an illegal offensive war against Israel, it illegally occupied Judea and Samara and uprooted all the Jews living there. The fact is that the West Bank is "disputed" through the only binding law in existence and the PA continues rejectionism and you have no one to blame other than the leadership that puts its people last.”
“Israel doesn't have security administration over all of the West Bank--Area A is supposed to be primarily under Palestinian control.
That 96% figure is misleading: what does "control" mean in this sense? On internal governance issues it might, but as I discussed, tax collection, movement, travel to farmlands and neighbors, trade, and more is controlled by Israel.
On my point: I was only responding to the claims by another poster about 2% of the land being part of settlements, and misperceptions of the Jordan-Israel peace treaty. ”
“Teacher 15: Fair points in your first paragraph. But as I said, including in the title of my post, we can debate the cause of the occupation or Israeli control, but it's simply not grounded in reality to ignore it. That was my concern in my response here to Podhoretz.
On the IDF, unfortunately, individual soldiers do engage in gratuitous harassment of Palestinians. And they normally don't face any sanction or penalty. Follow Breaking the Silence for more.”
Steve1828 on Aug 4, 2012 at 15:32:52
“"Breaking the Silence" covers what was going on during the worst of the Intifada, when Israeli soldiers were getting killed very frequently. There is nothing more recent than 2006. Even assuming that the testimonies there are incriminating, is it fair to use this web site to portray the current situation?”
As for occupation, it doesn't matter which term is used, in the context of my post--my point is that it's simply not the case that Palestinian culture explains their lack of economic development. It might be part of an explanation, but to argue that occupation (or whatever term) is "meaningless" in this regard is just not an accurate reflection of the vast control Israel exercises over the West Bank, and therefore over the ability of Palestinians to develop.”
American4456 on Aug 7, 2012 at 09:06:49
“Fanned! You are a rare voice of reality amongst the muzzled / paid for crop of "journalists".
It is quite commendable that you would raise the points you raise, for the sake of accuracy and honest reporting to the public, while so many others don't dare to.
Yarden on Aug 4, 2012 at 15:05:15
“The hypocrisy is astounding. I refer to UNSC Resolution 242, in which Israel holds sovereignty over the land of the West Bank until Palestine comes to negotiations with Israel on Israel's terms. The lack of economic development can only be blamed on the Palestinian leadership who A) Fails to support its own people with the interest of destroying Jews and Christians B) Failing to come to terms of a peace agreement and statehood. But the questions still remains, what authority do the Palestinians have in the West Bank present day? Why wasn't a Palestinian state created during the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank? And whats your reflection of Jordan illegally occupying Judea and Samara in 1948 when it was apart of legal Israel?”
“That 2% is of physical buildings only. But the land area of settlements (plus of settler roads and other Israeli-held areas) expands the territory under Israeli control, to 42%.
It is not true that the West Bank was given by Jordan to Israel in the 1994 treaty. In 1988 Jordan had renounced its claims to the area, so it could not do so. In the 1994 treaty itself, Article 3, clause 2, specifically notes that the border between the two countries otherwise settled on does not "prejudice ... the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967" (which is of course the West Bank): http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/Israel-Jordan%20Peace%20Treaty”
ExLibNowCentrist on Aug 4, 2012 at 13:09:14
“And the 1949 Armistice said the Green Line does not prejudice the final borders to be negotiated.
So why does your side award the Palestinians all the land east of the Green Line BEFORE a final settlement is negotiated?”
WBMD on Aug 4, 2012 at 06:36:12
“Israel has security administration over all of Judea and Samaria. But the P.A. has control over 46% of the land, and 96% of the population.
I don't understand what point you are trying to make.”
“The answer is simple: Israel is the country I study professionally. It's my job to study, analyze, and critique it. I look for issues that need explanation and understanding, and seek to provide both through a critical analysis of it. Turkey is the other country I study, and I bring the same critical analysis to it.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are not my areas of research, and I don't know them in the same detail I know Israel and Turkey. It makes no sense to compare Israel all the time to a place like Saudi Arabia, as you seem to suggest: it won't help to understand Israel's politics, and--speaking as someone who feels attached to Israel--I'm not sure I'd want to use Saudi Arabia's standards as the comparison point for Israel. That seems to be a low bar to set for an industrialized democracy.
I know others have made the argument that Israel's democratic structures are crumbling, but as I said, if you read my other blog, you'll see that I don't agree with that. But again, my purpose is not to act as a cheerleader for Israel but to provide a more in-depth, nuanced analysis of it for those who either don't know much about the country or who only see particular facets to it.
If you want to engage the merits of my arguments, instead of making assumptions about my ulterior motives or what prescriptions I'm offering, I'd welcome an open discussion.”
NTT on May 10, 2012 at 09:19:00
“A Professor of Psychology used to write articles -- the vast majority of which harshly criticised the character flaws of African American politicians -- and their followers. His articles achieved some popularity & were even cheered -- especially by KKK sympathizers, who used them to "prove" that African Americans should be returned to slavery. But the Professor did not care; he happily wrote away.
At some point, someone accused the Professor of discrimination & racism. "why do you write only about African Americans? And why always negative? There are much worse politicians".
"My dear man", said the Professor, "I know only too well. But see, criticising others is not my job -- my area of research, my professional field of interest is just blacks. That's because I care about them. As for the negativism, I can show you that some African Americans have said similar things about these politicians. So why do you call me a racist? Why don't you engage the merits of my arguments, instead of making assumptions about my ulterior motives?"”
“I'm not sure why you argue this is "Israel bashing." All of the points I've discussed have also been mentioned by Israeli scholars, legal analysts, and politicians who have written about reforming the system.
I don't mean to suggest that any one of these issues on its own is the real problem--but combined they weaken the ability of the system to function in a more stable manner. Proportional representation may work in other countries, but under contemporary conditions in Israel they undermine the center in politics. That said, I wouldn't advocate getting rid of it--as other commentators have noted, it helps protect minorities in the system. But some reform is necessary, again as other Israeli observers have argued.
On what I think of Israel, I encourage you to read my other blog (Mideast Matrix) and follow me on Twitter.”
“I'm not sure why you think I'm "Israel-bashing"--virtually all of what I wrote in the piece is considered critical priorities by the many Israeli scholars, legal analysts, and politicians who have written on the issue of changing the political system.
Any one of the issues I've mentioned might indeed be relevant for other countries. But taken together, they have caused real structural problems in the Israel system--again, as highlighted by the many Israeli proposals floating around for reforming the system. The purpose is not to do the exact opposite, but to change the system so that the flaws that do indeed weaken the political and policy process are removed. I don't think I'd advocate removing proportional representation entirely--it does, as other commentators noted, protect minorities in the system.
For more on what I think of Israel, I encourage you to follow my writings at my other blog (Mideast Matrix) and on Twitter.”
NTT on May 9, 2012 at 19:15:07
“>>>I'm not sure why you think I'm "Israel-bashing"...
Gee, I dunno... lemme think: might have something to do with the fact that 95% of your articles unfairly criticise Israel and 100% mention it -- always in negative contexts, of course; while no other country (including the rest of the Middle East -- undemocratic, flooded with religious fanaticism, practicing gender-based apartheid in addition to a host of other types of discrimination and human rights violations) gets a treatment that's even remotely similar? Would that explain it, you think?
>>>"the many Israeli scholars, legal analysts, and politicians who have written on the issue of changing the political system"
I bet you don't even realise that you've just shot your own argument in the foot! Yes, Mr. Sasley, Israel has civic liberties & a lively political debate. They are perfectly capable to FURTHER improve a system that is already among the world's best. So why doncha leave them alone & help those who DON't have those liberties & whose system is among the worst? The women of Saudi Arabia & Iran, for instance, are badly in need of your lively "liberal" pen.”
“Thanks for the kind words. I agree it's a brilliant move by Bibi. There certainly are cracks throughout the coalition, but I'd guess most parties would rather paper over them than risk leaving the government. I'd also guess that the coalition will be more status quo oriented than not on most things except the Tal Law and reform of the political system. But then again, this took us all by surprise, so who knows?”
“I think you're misreading my point. I'm arguing that many analysts, commentators, and politicians are arguing that large numbers of Jewish voters are going to move Republican because of Obama's (perceived) anti-Israel position. I'm suggesting that's not an effective basis on which to make such arguments because the ideology and the party of the president has far less of an impact on American policy toward Israel and the peace process than is commonly understood.
I'd disagree with your first point: public opinion surveys indicate that people (obviously not everyone, but many) tend to vote based on their political socialization. Jews have been "socialized" into the Democratic party over years of voting and politicking. Thus the frame of reference is the party, rather than individual candidates. The nature of the American 2-party system reinforces this tendency, which operates for all segments of American society.”
Greg Mirsky on Feb 6, 2012 at 20:01:13
“I think that we see more and more ethnic groups splitting by socially important issues rather than holding to historical ethnic allegiances. And that, IMO, is why more and more Americans move away from locking in one or another major political party and identify themselves as Independent. And I'll note that on local level you have more then 2-parties and we've seen, not once, that third candidate can have noticeable impact. Perhaps one day America will have President who's neither Democrat, nor Republican?”
“Yes, the Pew survey came out after I published the piece. I am skeptical that we'll see a major shift of Jewish voters from the Democrats to the Republicans. The survey in particular utilizes a small sample of Jews, and is only one data point among many that suggest otherwise. Still, although I would be surprised at a vote shift, it is possible. The issue of whether there has been a change, though, is beyond the specific argument here: which is that many argue (including many who use the Pew survey as evidence) that Jews should vote Republican because Obama is unsufficently pro-Israel. That term is more or less meaningless when it comes to president's actual policies having much of an impact on the peace process, Israeli security, or major changes in Israeli policy.”
Want2knowY on Feb 10, 2012 at 12:49:52
“The most significant change, over time, is that the Orthodox Jewish community is now reliably Republican. As a result, almost any GOP nominee can now count on getting 25-30% of the Jewish vote as a floor.”
Greg Mirsky on Feb 6, 2012 at 13:31:04
“Ability to use smaller representative group to get accurate reading is what differentiates professional pollsters from the rest of public. Margin of error, usual for polls of public opinion, is smaller than change that the report points to. We'll see whether the change is real or not soon enough.
But I detest your attempt to present American Jews as simple minded and locked on issue of Israel group. Such attempt is close to anti-Semitic accusation of Jews being un-American, Jews being unpatriotic. Each and every candidate is and will be looked at and considered not just by his/her position on American-Israeli relationship but on the whole sum of issues. Insist otherwise is, as I warn you, will get you into dangerous territory.”
“That kind of information wasn't germane to my argument--which is that facts like the ones you mentioned (the specifics of which are debatable) have stopped being the basis for policy discussions. Instead, the dialogue has become one of labeling and name-calling, pushing people to defend themselves against charges rather than respond on the issues. But yes, a discussion on the issues you've raised would be more welcome.”
ProbStat on Jan 18, 2012 at 14:20:05
“All right. But you found time (appropriately, IMHO) to write: 'Moreover, Israel itself is not an issue just for Israelis. It's an issue for the worldwide Jewish community, for Palestinians, and for Muslims. It's become a necessary element in political and ideological discourse in the United States as well, including in the non-Jewish communities.'
Absent mention of the matters I noted, however, this paragraph is a real clunker: you've pointed out clearly the rabbits and mice in the room, but only very obliquely mentioned the elephant. Is your article intended only to elevate 'political and ideological discourse in the United States,' bearing in mind that for all but maybe less than ten thousand politicians, staffers, lobbyists, etc., this primarily means cocktail party conversation? And if you're intended audience is politicians, staffers, and lobbyists, wouldn't you have done better to have written a policy paper for the XYZ Institute than a piece for HuffPo?
I think your topic is more important than cocktail party conversation; people are suffering and dying as a result of what Americans think (or don't think) about Israel. And America's perception in the world is strongly affected by it, arguably to the point that people have crashed jet airliners into our skyscrapers.
In your omission, have you not succumbed in a way to the very forces you warn against?”
Yarden on Jan 18, 2012 at 12:47:42
“I disagree with Prob Start Mr. Sasley,
The USA does give Israel FMF's but the USA also strongly benefits from the aid partnership in various aspects. The USA does provide weapons to Israel but Israel has been becoming more independent as of late, using many of there own weapons. Actually, they still have captured soviet arms from the 1960's! It should be noted that weapons and technology from Israel are implemented in the USA military.
Mr.Sasley, I think you should construct an article about the the arab bloc's betrayal of the Palestinians. Ask the questions, why did a Palestinian state not champion when Jordan and Gaza illegally imperialized it between 49-67? Why did the original PLO charter state they have no historical sovereignty over the WB and Gaza? Why did the arab bloc reject 181 and why does nobody mention Abbas's violation of the Osslo's. To many articles about the same, get to the real core of the problem!”
“It was not my purpose here to balance two explanations or two interpretations: I was only trying to explain one particular issue--Erdogan's emotional reactions and policies. France's activities and reactions are something else entirely, and not related to my point. (And could probably use its own post.)”
AkiraBergman on Jan 3, 2012 at 16:26:33
“There is emotion in everything. Erdogan's reaction was emotional, but was not excessively emotional. He was also accused of being emotional when he reacted to Gaza invasion. Obviously the criticism is political. The westerners can get emotional about their nationality and religion, but Turks are not allowed, is that it?
There is nothing wrong with emotions. Even behind the apparent lack of emotion in the US foreign and domestic policy, there is a lot of emotion.”
“My concern here is not to balance two explanations or two sides to something, but rather to explain one particular issue--namely, Erdogan's reaction and foreign policy. France's decisions and actions are an entirely other issue that I don't cover here, or need to in order to explain Erdogan.”
“It also depends on how "brought under control" is defined. It's one thing for civilians to make the ultimate decisions regarding the military as an institution's resources, doctrine, planning, etc. It's another for the government to bring false charges against the military because it conflicts with its broader ideological agenda. The problem is that at this point we don't have enough evidence to know which is closer to the factual truth.”
“I would argue that American Jews have to decide whether they should be involved with Israel or not. Presumably, most would want the former. The question then becomes what that involvement looks like: do we act like simple appendages of Israeli policy, doing whatever Israel wants; or do we act like autonomous, independent actors with choices. I think our history, temperment, culture, and values would suggest the latter.
As for being a Jewish state, it is important to define what we mean by that, and is captured in points 1 and 3. But it is full of contradictions. One of them is, as you noted, the role of Judaism in determining the laws of the state--which has implications both for the large non-Jewish minority living there and for Jews in the diaspora.
On that last point, if we allow ourselves to be affected by how Israel defines Jewishness, then surely we must also be able to contribute to the construction of these definitions in Israel.”
“Yes, the 1949 armistice lines were not official borders. But neither did Israel seek to expand beyond them until the 1967 War. And once it did capture the territory, it only formally annexed all of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights--not the rest of the West Bank. It's hard for Diaspora Jews to insist, then, that all of the West Bank be considered part of Israel at this moment when even Israel itself hasn't made it legally part of the country. (Although it may appear to be doing so in other ways.)
As for Israel being a democracy, there are real debates about how democratic it should be versus how Jewish, and whether there is any contradiction in the two concepts--and what the role of Jewish norms and laws should be in a state with a large non-Jewish minority. In addition, being democratic means enshrining certain minority rights, and there are debates about what those rights should be as well.
The point of my piece wasn't to suggest what needs to happen to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, but rather to try to resolve some of the conflicts within the US Jewish community.”
DC on Jul 15, 2011 at 06:43:41
“"Diaspora Jews "
Sure would be nice to know exactly what that means?
Aren't we all Diaspora from somewhere. Didn't all of humanity move around?
Besides, and importantly, sure are lots of Slavic peoples who converted to Judaism between the 1 and 3rd centuries. With NO historical connection ever to the ME.
Remember there was a time in history (perhaps in social competition with early Christianity) where Judaism was a proselytizing religion. Fortunately, Judaism moved away from that. Although the motivation was not to be mixing with so many peoples.
Point is, Judaism is Universal. It spawned Christianity, after all. Jews are of many people everywhere. The meme of a Diaspora is a nationalistic myth.”
Jon Jony on Jul 15, 2011 at 00:31:18
“You do realize that 1949-1967 is 18 years... 18 years is a very short period of time. As far as I am concerned this point is negligible for that reason alone.
The fact that Israel did not formally annex the West Bank does not mean or imply that Israelis are abandoning their communities in the West Bank (either in "principle" or in fact).
Israel's Jewishness is part of the reason it was created. I am troubled by your suggestion that there is a debate (of any merit) which states that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic.
In fact, your suggestion makes me wonder if you have ever visited or are at all familiar with Israel's minority communities (and I am not referring to the West Bank/Gaza of course). The Israeli Arabs want to stay INSIDE Israel - rather than become part of any new Palestinian state - for the precise reason that Israel is democratic and they are effectively the freest Arab community in the Middle East.
Finally you state you are concened with the Jewish community (and I have no idea if you are Jewish yourself) - yet the Jewish community is pretty much overall in agreement that Israel is a Jewish state that needs a negotiated solution that involves a border which will very likely be different from the 1949 border.
Forgive me if I seem to question your sincerity with regards to some of what you state -but I find many of your arguments incredulous. Sorry.”
“Your article is a classic example of academia being out of touch with the street. Three years in, the Jews I know are questioning their 2008 Dem vote, out loud. If the Republican candidate is not too far right in 2012, Obama might indeed be a one term President, as NY, NJ and Florida and possibly Ohio will make that happen.”
Vlady on Jul 7, 2011 at 14:21:33
“>>the Jewish vote is pretty solidly Democrat
...as pretty as 60% approval now down from 83% 2 years ago”
GZLives on Jul 6, 2011 at 20:02:11
“I come from a very political family who have worked inside Democrat Party politics for a few generations. I know what the polls say but I also know what I sense from my family. They are solid but my sense is not as solid as they were nor sure. They are in Boston, S Florida and Chicago. I'm in New York
My sense is Obama could lose enough in Florida to possibly lose the State. And if things go really bad in September at the UN with the Palestinian bid for Statehood which will require a US veto - putting Obama squarely in conflict with the Democrat base and he wavers at all - he may put NY and NJ in play.
It just takes a few percentage points.”
“I don't disagree with your first point, but the Jewish community is my concern/focus, and so I confined my comments to it. What other communities do or don't do, or the comparison to Israel, isn't necessarily relevant for the point I raised above.
Re the second point, I would disagree. Diaspora Jews are intimately connected to Israel through emotional attachments, religion, family, and institutions. Diaspora Jews contribute enormous financial and political support to Israel, and Israel itself asks for it. And Israel takes upon itself the right to make decisions that impact on world Jewry, such as the "who is a Jew" issue. Finally, the Law of Return automatically implies and builds on a direct connection between Jews in Israel and elsewhere.
Because of all that, I'd argue that Diaspora Jews have a right to be part of the conversation on Israel, its policies, and its future. At some point, though, I'd agree that that right stops since Diaspora Jews don't live in Israel, and therefore don't pay its taxes, serve in the military, and so on. I'm not exactly sure where that line is, but certainly so long as Israel expects support from Diaspora Jews the line will remain blurred.”
Sam Bark on Jun 26, 2011 at 18:11:16
“Mr. Sasley, thank you for a thoughtful reply. I believe we are on the same page, but see it in different hues..... I agree with your assertions that there is an emotional attachment of the diaspora with Israel (and vice versa) I would not say that Israel is oblivious to the diaspora Jews’ opinion and feelings about its policy and actions, and there is definitely a ‘reciprocal benefits” connecting these two groups. People need though to understand that despite all the talk and circus going on, Israel is in a state of war with many of its neighbors, and that siege feeling affect the Israelis daily everywhere they go…
Yet there is a difference between sounding an opinion or criticizing, for good or bad, then acting in a way that is contrary to the well beings and security of Israel, no matter what the intentions are, similar to groups such as J-Street or Peace Now who support and collaborate with sworn enemies of Israel, ot those useful Jews that joined the Gaza flotilla….. I agree it a matter where the line is, and this is where I am afraid people get carried away with their emotions and skewed views and believe in their ’cause’.”