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Israel’s Right to Exist Not Based Upon UN Resolution

August 30, 2012 2:17 pm 8 comments

Israel's capital city Jerusalem.

Regrettably, it is well-known and often lamented that public relations does not count among the Israelis’ many talents. This is primarily the result of factual ignorance, not lack of know-how. Even many intelligent and professional advocates of Israel fall into the trap of regurgitating false premises for Israel’s existence determined by outsiders with a limited appreciation of the scope and scale of Jewish history and legacy.

The basis for the Jewish State is rooted primarily in the history, heritage, identity, and inheritance of the Jewish People in their Land of Israel. The land originally inhabited by Canaanites was designated on two distinct levels – individual and national – to become the homeland for the Hebrews, later known as Israelites and still later as Jews. Although not intended as a historical work, the Torah is rich in history and documents in detail the financial transactions of Abraham in purchasing land, wells, burial plots, etc., circa 2000 B.C.E. Indeed, Zionism originates in the period when the exiled Israelites are enslaved in Egypt and yearn to return to the land of their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joseph’s adamant desire to be reburied in Israel after his death is a poignant testament to the longing felt even in that early era for a return to the ancestral homeland, the legacy of the Patriarchs and the posterity of a people.

When the twelve tribes of Israel undertake their exodus from Egypt, they return as a full-fledged people, a nation, and retake their territory to form the First Commonwealth whose greatest expression is manifested in the United Kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon, circa 1005-920 B.C.E. Although the kingdom soon splintered into two – Israel and Judah – the commonwealth held until 722/1 (when Assyria conquered the Kingdom of Israel) and then 586 (when the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah).

The Second Commonwealth was established by Sheshbazzar, Zerubbabel, and Joshua the High Priest (circa 538 B.C.E.) and later affirmed and fortified by Nehemiah and Ezra (circa 460 B.C.E.) under the aegis of the Achaemenid Persians. The erstwhile Kingdom of Judah became part of a provincial satrapy and the Jews were left in peace to recreate their religious institutions and social order. These rights were documented in official Persian edicts and pronouncements which do not survive themselves but portions of these memoranda are cited in the extant Book of Ezra. Cyrus the Great, Darius Hystaspes, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes I all issued decrees confirming Jewish rights in their native land.

Inhabiting their homeland continuously throughout the Hellenistic and Roman eras, the Jews inevitably chafed under the oppression of foreign overlordship and repeatedly tried to overthrow their imperial masters. Content neither to be vassals to suzerains nor subject to occupation and persecution, the Jews took up arms. Multiple revolts erupted, the major ones being the Maccabean Revolt (circa 168-134 B.C.E.), the Great Revolt (66-73 C.E.), and finally the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 C.E.). Defeat in the latter sealed the fate of the Jewish nation for 1813 years, until the iron-willed David Ben-Gurion declared the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948 from the modern city of Tel Aviv.

There had been, in fact, no less than a dozen different Jewish states in the diaspora during the intervening millenia, including several sizeable kingdoms lasting centuries, and most notably in the Parthian vassal kingdom of Adiabene (Kurdistan), whose Queen Helena and her princes converted to Judaism around 30 C.E.; in the Himyarite Kingdom in what is today Yemen, whose Arab ruler Jasirum Juhanim (Yassirum Yohre’am) converted to Judaism in 270 C.E. and whose Judaized successors in the Tuba’a/Abu Kariba line endured until 525 C.E.; between 512-520 C.E. in Babylonia under the Sassanid Persians and declared by the young Jewish Exilarch Mar Zutra II; in the 600s/700s C.E. in the Turkic kingdom of Khazaria (roughly eastern Ukraine and Southern Russia) whose ruler Bulan and his descendants also became Jewish and which lasted in some form for over five hundred years until the invasion of Genghis Khan’s Mongols; in the hill country of Ethiopia, where the Beta Israel/Falasha Jews ruled the Lake Tana region from perhaps the 300s but certainly from 858-1627 C.E.; and finally in the failed Soviet experiment of Birobidzhan, established in 1928 and officially designated the Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR) by Stalin in 1934, and in which a few thousand Jews remain today. None of these territories, however, ever constituted a significant centre of political life for Jewry as a whole, nor did a majority of contemporaneous Jews ever reside therein. They were established as way-stations in which their Jewish residents could benefit from sovereign statehood and freedom of religion, never as substitutes for the historical homeland whose reestablishment remained a messianic aspiration.

Jewish rights to the Land of Israel are steeped in four millenia of facts. The right to re-establish a country on the entirety or any portion of this land stems from writ and deed, and from the continual presence of Jewish communities dwelling in the land throughout the epochs. Living descendants of these die-hard, holdout communities are firm links in the chain of generations, and proffer irrefutable proof. Every archaeological Tel and architectural artefact testifies to the truth. All remnants and ruins bear witness. Relics substantiate and place-names verify. The time-honored Torah is available – as The Bible – fully translated into 438 languages and partially translated into 2,454 languages the world over, each one evincing the identity and heritage of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. In short, the foundation of Jewish claims to the land is rock-solid, watertight, ironclad. The evidence is definitive and conclusive, unrelenting and overwhelming.

Statements that the State of Israel was a concession, a product of the Holocaust, are fallacious and misleading. Sadly, this is a nearsighted trope frequently perpetuated by Jews with no substantive background in their own peoplehood. Contrary to popular misconception, Zionism did not begin with the Nazis and the Holocaust, nor with Theodor Herzl, nor his numerous intellectual predecessors including Alkalai, Kalischer, Hess, Mohilever, Pinsker, Lilienblum, Birnbaum, Goldsmid, Smolenskin, Ben-Yehudah, Pines, etc. Zionism began with the first exiles from Zion (to Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia), and the State of Israel is but the modern political iteration of the ancient Hebraic birthright, of the intrinsic autonomy of a people – a civilization – to inhabit its original and rightful homeland and enjoy sovereignty and self-determination.

Thus, to believe that the Third Commonwealth – the State of Israel – exists only or primarily as a result of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (Partition Plan), passed on November 29, 1947, is a glaring and fundamental error betraying a profound lack of historical understanding and demonstrating a dogmatic overemphasis on legalism. After all, the UN in its wisdom at any time could rescind or negate its own resolutions, or resolve anew in favor of the Arabs as may well be the case come September 2011. This will, more than anything else, underscore the futility and misguidedness of any modern-day state’s pinning its hopes on the UN for its legitimacy.

The credibility required for a nascent political entity must be inherent and natural, historical and geographical. A society or civilization must have solid claims rooted in fundamental, foundational criteria – identity, history, heritage, inheritance, culture, legacy, posterity – and be willing to stake their claims and stand their ground – on their ground. Political sovereignty is a product of factual precedent and national, civilizational rights. A UN resolution condoning the outcome of practical actions in this regard is merely a welcome afterthought, a symbolic cherry topping icing and cake.

8 Comments

  • 1) Israel has the right to exist because it does so and no enemy can prevent it from doing so.

    2) @ Mihai-Robert Soran: Jews did not reconquer the Land in 1947-48, they successfully prevented the feudal Arab classes from attempting to conquer Jewish owned territory and destroy the growing Jewish community in the Land of Israel – a community that continues to thrive today (see point 1) and which welcomes the peaceful participation of new-Jewish citizens. Contrast with treatment of Jews (now long gone) and other minorities in feudal Arab states.

  • Mihai-Robert Soran

    According to international law the Jews who in their majority have left the Canaanite territories between 500 BC and 100 AD have no claimable rights to reconquer the lands they left (mostly in a voluntary economic migration).
    Today’s understanding of international laws in the whole world is that no peoples are allowed to take into possession the lands others live on based on claims of former, centuries ago, possession and abandonment of the land.
    That’s why Israel has no rights to the 1947 partitioned territory, except for one UN resolution 1947.
    The rest is bull dung, no matter how brilliant from a scholar, nationalistic and religious imperialism

    • I read and reread your article. It is beautifully written, compelling and inspirational, and succinctly spells out the historical, cultural, and spiritual connection of the Jews to Israel. We are the land and the land is us. I hope to see many more articles from you.

    • First of all, the Jews never abandoned the land, whatever you mean by that. More importantly, the only true basis of international law is self-determination. People migrate: the Goths, Vandals, Saxons,Ameridians, Arabs, Europeans,Polynesians,Africans and Latin Americans, to name a few. The complete list forms the history of humanity. The Islamization of Europe is an inexorable trend, as is the Latinization of the Americas. Conflict and partition are the watchwords of the future. All the rest is bull dung.

    • Denis Vulinovich

      The Jews’ right to the land of Israel was established 90 years ago by two acts of international law:
      1) The San Remo Resolution in 1920.
      2) The Mandate for Palestine in 1922, that established its borders west of the Jordan River. and was unanimously approved by all 51 members of the League of Nations.
      These acts of international law are still in force according to Article 80 of the UN Charter, and they have never been revoked.

      UN Security Council resolutions are legally binding, but General Assembly resolutions such as 181 are not.
      So to claim that UN 181 is the basis for Israel’s existence is a fallacy, and it ignores two previous acts of international law 25 years earlier.

    • What.about.the.Arab.lobby?

      If not the Jews, who then who does have the right to the former Canaanite territories? I’m sure you are not suggesting the Palestinian Arabs are the descendents of the Canaanites, who were not Arab.

      Today’s understanding of international laws cannot fail to recognize that there are many places where people are taking lands into their possession without claims of any rights, ancestral or otherwise.

      The one UN resolution you would like to skip over is an important one. In 1947 the entire membership of the UN had a chance to vote upon a plan to succeed the British Mandate of Palestine. The UN majority voted to accept a partition plan to divide the area between the Arabs and the Jews.

      The Jews of Palestine accepted the plan which gave them a small part of land. The Arabs of Palestine refused it and most of that land became Jordan.

      Israel is not a country of Jews alone. There are many Israeli Muslims and Christians who live in the same houses they owned before the creation of Israel. Can the same be said for the Jews who lived in Arab countries for centuries? Nor are Jews permitted to live in Jordan?

      Jews left ancient Israel the same way Palestinians say they were forced to leave the new state of Israel. Both say they were forced to leave or die. The Jews have been kept out while the Palestinians remain. A new Arab Palestine won’t allow Jews to live there, either.

      Justice should not be all one way.

    • Charlie in NY

      Actually, international law supports the Jews return to the land of what is now called Israel and beyond. The Mandate of Palestine, among other mandates created in the former Ottoman Middle East, was created as a result of the 1920 Treaty of Sevres between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire and the San Remo Conference. That mandate reiterated the Balfour Declaration allowing for the close settlement of Jews throughout the Mandate’s territory. The Jews were the only group who could claim self-determination, the caveat always was with respect to the civil and religious rights of others. The League of Nations approved this and the other mandates. Britain, as mandatory power, was less than diligent in upholding its obligations, starting in 1922 by slicing off some 78% of the territory to create Transjordan as a consolation prize of sorts to its Hashemite supporters who had been chased by the House of Saud from the Arabian peninsula. Britain also imposed immigration restrictions for a variety of political reasons. While these actions arguably violated the Mandate, there was never any realistic venue in which to seek redress. The Mandate survived the demise of the League of Nations and were taken on intact through Article 80 of the newly established United Nations. Thus, as far as international law is concerned, Jews had a right to repopulate their homeland through its length and breadth. Given the history of the treaty rights created, there is a very good case to be made to call the areas of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank is a name invented by the Trans-jordanians after they seized it in the war against Israel in 1948-49, after which they renamed themselves Jordan since they were now on both banks of the river) “disputed” rather than “occupied.” As far as the political settlement is concerned, it is of course an entirely different story. It makes sense in that context to look to the Holocaust as one of the external factor pushing world powers to view with favor the establishment of Israel. Another was that some countries in Europe may have wanted to rid themselves of their Jews altogether, others might have used it as a way to avoid the social upheaval that was likely if Jews returned to their homes and retrieved their property all which by then had been taken over by their Christian neighbors. Stalin viewed Israel as a potential socialist beach-head in the Middle East. The political list could go on and on. All that said, as a matter of international law, what is now the State of Israel arose from treaty rights. Its creation and acceptance in the family of nations was due not at all to the UN resolution for partition. Rather and as has almost always been the case throughout history, Israel became a nation through its force of arms in repelling armies seeking its annihilation.

  • Brandon Marlon provides an interesting and important history and I applaud him for his scholarship. The migration of peoples needs to be added to this commentary. Migration occurs for many reasons, including famine and war. Jews have migrated into and out of the land west of the Jordan River for thousands of years. In particular, a large migration occurred in the 20th century, mostly lawful, but not an armed invasion. The migration resulted in conflict, which was resolved politically by the United Nations. The resolution was subsequently contested by a war, known as the War of Independence, but was in fact a regional war of aggression.
    The fact of migration and the right of self-determination must be asserted as a legitimate basis for the State of Israel. There are 5 million Arabs in France; 8 million Turks in Germany, 11 Million Mexican nationals in the US, to mention only a few. The Arabs in the land west of the Jordan River have no better claim to the land than the Israelis. The land is disputed, all of the land, there is no occupation because there is no agreement as to the partition.

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