“Imagine if there was a country you had no personal connection to, that people accused of being an apartheid state. This state was constantly condemned all over the world, and in the UN, for war crimes and human rights violations. Imagine if this country was claimed to be founded on colonialist principles, and was accused of systematic racism.
”In its defense, this state simply emphasized the fact that it is a leader in hi-tech and innovation, and that it invented things such as the cherry tomato, ICQ and the flash drive.
”Whose side would you be on? This is Israel’s image as seen in today’s world. (Emphasis added here and throughout this article)
”When thinking about the Jewish state’s public diplomacy, one must think about what the unengaged, ordinary person sees, not what the educated activist sees. Today, Israel is violently attacked by its haters through vicious delegitimization campaigns; these are of course based on lies, but the ordinary, unengaged person does not necessarily know that. Israel’s response to this campaign is simply unconvincing.
”Israel needs to refocus its message and debunk the lies thrown at it, such as these accusations of war crimes, apartheid and racism. It must cultivate a parallel ethical discourse, one that is no less passionate than the one promoted by the supporters of the Palestinians [Arabs], based on the principles of freedom, historical justice and legal justice. This discourse is the only way to compete with the lies thrown at Israel because, although they are lies, they base themselves on the deepest levels of human conscience and cannot be rejected without proposing an alternative ethical foundation.
”The moral case for Israel is a strong one; however, no one seems to be making it. As such, a moral person who doesn’t actively educate himself on the conflict is fed a narrative which leads him to oppose Israel virulently.”
These words were written by Dan Illouz, for his column in the Jerusalem Post.
In his piece, he cites Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely, who recently said:
“Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasizing the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically.
But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right. The international community deals with considerations of justice and morality. We need to return to the basic truth of our right to this land. This country is ours, all of it.”
“After years of going around in circles and trying to find diplomatic ways to get the world to love Israel without actually claiming the rights which are…ours, Hotovely asked that we start talking about these rights again.
”The only way the world is going to accept Israel is if it believes Israel has a right to exist. As long as Israel is afraid to talk about its legal, historical and moral rights to its land, the world will keep on questioning its existence and will move closer to the Palestinians, who are not afraid to speak about their claim to the land.
”At the end of the day, the question of Israel’s legitimacy comes down to the legal issue: Does Israel have a legal basis for its presence in Judea and Samaria? Israel can try to justify its stance with security concerns, but this will only bring the world to the conclusion that Israel had good reasons to temporarily break the law. The world will still see Israel as a state that is breaking the law, and in the long term it will not be able to accept this. After a few years, the world will say: ‘If you keep breaking the law, then despite whatever reason you might claim to have, you are still a criminal.’
”The truth is that Israel has an outstanding legal case to make about its right to the entire Land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria…”
Now, the above is an excellent article, which I would have cited and encouraged you to share in any event. You’ve heard some of this before from me, as I’ve praised Hotovely for her forthrightness, and expressed despair about our prime minister’s tendency to resort to “security” as the rationale for retaining land in Judea and Samaria. This well articulated piece carries the message clarity.
And…as it happens, its author – a savvy lawyer who “gets it” – is working with our Legal Grounds Campaign, doing Knesset education. We are determined to make good things happen. And I wanted to give my readers a sense of who we have working with us.
Before moving on then, I want to urge you to log on to our website – http://israelrights.com . Start by joining the campaign (no cost – we need names for maximum impact), if you have not yet done so, and encouraging others to do the same. Then access information on the site about Israel’s legal rights (there’s great information) so that you can do your part to defend Israel from an informed position.
The campaign for the delegitimization of Israel, the BDS campaign, etc. is in full swing. We seem to be confronting more attacks every day.
By way of example, there was the recent outrage associated with Orange, the French telecommunications (cell phone) firm. Orange CEO Stephane Richard declared that if it were possible, he would cut relations with Israel “tomorrow”: there was talk about severing ties with Partner, the Israeli subsidiary of Orange, licensed to carry the corporation’s name.
Ultimately Richard backed down and has how been invited to visit Israel. But his pullback on his original position would not have come about without a very public and strong response from the Israeli government – including a call to the French government to condemn the boycott.
This is key: the days of shrugging off the BDS movement as a minor annoyance are over, and the Israeli government is taking a different stance.
Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at Northwestern University, an expert on international law – and, incidentally, a member of Legal Ground Campaign’s Legal Advisory Board – has just written an enlightening article that touches upon the Orange issue.
Kontorovich has, for some time now, taken the brilliant tack of examining how the world relates to situations similar to what Israel is coping with, in other places. This is a perspective that is quite valuable.
After the CEO of Orange made his statement, the French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud put out on twitter:
“4th Geneva convention : settlement policy in occupied territories is illegal. It is illegal to contribute to it in any way.”
To this, Kontorovich responded (emphasis added):
“Perhaps the most instructive aspect of this was the reaction of Amb. Araud, when I pointed out to him that his legal claim is baseless, and squarely contradicted by France’s own courts in recent decisions involving Israel, which held the Geneva Conventions flatly inapplicable to private companies. [That is, even if, which is not the case, Israel were operating in defiance of the Geneva Conventions in Judea and Samaria, it would not be illegal for private companies to do business there.] It is also contradicted by the opinions the U.N. Security Council Legal Advisor, the EU Parliament’s legal advisor, and the U.K. Supreme Court, and more.
“The Orange incident, and the Ambassador’s legal claim, are also bad news for a number of French companies, like the oil giant Total, which is active in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara against the vociferous protests of the indigenous Sawahari people. (There are many other examples, like Michelin in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.) The French government has never criticized any of these controversial activities in any way. But if the Ambassador’s legal claim is right, he has provided the basis for war crimes prosecutions of France’s leading executives….
“Amb. Araud responded to my question by revealing that he had no idea one of his country’s largest companies was engaged in an major project that, by his account, is a war crime.
“The Ambassador, after blocking me, revealed that his international law claims are not really about international law:
“’I speak of one occupied territory. I am answered on other territories. I conclude that everybody agrees on what I say on the former.’[Translation: Don’t tell me about Morocco occupying the Western Sahara, where French companies do business. I am speaking only about Judea and Samaria, and everyone agrees that it’s not right to do business there.]
“In other words, [not fair] to cite precedents and practice. But of course, if you are talking about international law, ‘other territories’ are entirely relevant. First, for something to be law, it has to be a rule that applies to similar situations. And for it to be international, well, those situations will involve different countries.
“What the French apparently want is, to paraphrase Stalin, international law for one country. Ok. But don’t call it international. And don’t call it law.
Right on, Eugene! My friends, book mark this article for future reference.
On Saturday night, at least one rocket was launched from Gaza into southern Israel, in the area of Ashkelon. No injuries, no damage resulted. On Sunday, Israel retaliated by hitting some four terrorist sites in Gaza – no one was injured in those attacks either. Minister of Defense Ya’alon also gave the order to shut down the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza, except for humanitarian aid.
Just days before, Ya’alon had said, quite clearly, that “we will not tolerate a drizzle.”
Well… what is currently going on is just that: a drizzle of rockets. One here, one there. What is more, a statement from the IDF indicated:
“The Hamas terrorist organization is the address and the one on whom the responsibility falls.”
This has been Israeli policy – holding Hamas, which is in control of Gaza, responsible no matter which group – most often it has been Islamic Jihad – launches the rockets.
And so something of a hue and cry went up from the opposition, demanding to know when the government was going to act with firmness against Hamas. Certainly hitting empty launching fields was not going to do it. And it was the opinion of at least one analyst not long ago, that Hamas leaders were just as happy to have IJ launch a rocket now and then – they could claim “innocence” while keeping Israel off balance.
But now information has surfaced that possibly changes the equation:
It’s not Islamic Jihad that has been responsible for the latest “drizzle of rockets,” but a radical jihadi-Salafi group that calls itself the Omar Hadid Brigades. I had alluded recently to radical groups that might end up making Hamas look a bit like “peace now.” Not quite, but close. The Brigades, with ISIS affiliation, would like to take over from Hamas in Gaza, and, it is thought, are utilizing the rocket attacks to encourage an Israeli attack on Hamas. They want Israel to do their work for them.
Groups such as this one are eager for Gaza to be used to open another front in the jihad caliphate movement – they don’t like Hamas’s identification with Palestinian Arab nationalism.
Hamas, for its part, is too beaten down, according to this information, to have any desire to take on Israel. And Hamas is actually arresting members of the Brigades in an attempt to control the situation.
It does seem to be the case that Hamas is not ready to take on Israel now. But I hasten to correct any misimpression with regard to Hamas becoming “moderate” and peaceful. They are simply biding time, and preparing for the next confrontation. Very recently, for example, Hamas paved a road adjacent to the Gaza border with Israel. According to Fathi Hammad, a former Hamas interior minister, the road was intended
“to create for ourselves convenient opportunities to attack the Zionist enemy.”
At the same time, Hamas regularly tests their rockets, shooting into the Mediterranean, in order to determine their accuracy.
What Israel seeks is a weakened Hamas – too weak to attack, but strong enough to control the jidhadi groups.
Conclusion: a vastly complex situation requiring sharp intelligence, thoughtful planning, an ever-ready army, and a crystal ball.
I wrote the other day about the possibility that Syrian Druze near the Golan may yet flee into Israel. Now we have this from Ayoob Kara (Likud), himself a Druze, and Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation:
“The State of Israel is acting on behalf of the Syrian Druze. These matters are being carried out quietly, and without publicity.”
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“We Have Legal Grounds” –