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Jews, Law, and Human Rights

Are legally enforceable codes of human rights good for the Jews?  Even to ask this question seems parochial and unseemly.  Human rights deserve the utmost respect—and by Jews of all people.  They are morally necessary; they are in keeping with the best religious, moral, and cultural traditions of Judaism; they are a universal imperative. 

Yet, the “Good for the Jews” question cannot be ignored for two important reasons. First, the creation of international human rights conventions was seen in the 1940s as a response to the Holocaust and potentially the most effective way to prevent any repetition of the genocide perpetrated by Adolf Hitler's Germany.  It was hoped that a set of international human rights institutions would protect Jews and other minorities. 

Second, Jewish opinion is now fiercely divided as to whether these institutions—particularly the United Nations Human Rights Council (Geneva), the International Criminal Court (The Hague), and the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg)—have achieved this outcome.  Jewish voices are often heard to complain that the new international human rights system has come to be systematically biased against Jewish and Israeli interests.  “Lawfare” has become a modern form of anti-Semitic agitation, albeit often conducted (it is claimed) by dissident Jews. 

Jewish scholars and activists have been at the forefront of what denigrators call the human rights industry since its post-war inception.  Many of the leading legal philosophers of the past century have been Jewish. The greatly respected but controversial American jurist Ronald Dworkin is one of the most influential advocates of, as his book title puts it, Taking Rights Seriously.  Michael Sandel's course titled “Justice” attracts enough students at Harvard to fill Sanders Theater and has proved a YouTube sensation—the lectures have been viewed over seven million times.  At Oxford University, Herbert Hart (the descendant of a rabbi) wrote the ground-breaking volume The Concept of Law.  He was followed by Joseph Raz, who arrived in Oxford from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  By far the most influential of Britain's international lawyers, Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, came to Cambridge University from Galicia via Vienna, where he studied under another intellectual giant, Hans Kelsen, a Jewish convert to Catholicism. Other Jewish names to be conjured with include Raphael Lemkin, credited with the invention of the term “genocide,” and the French jurist René Cassin. It would be repetitious to include the title of “Professor” gained by all of the above. 

Their influence was not confined to academe.  Kelsen, a member of Sigmund Freud's circle, sat on Austria's constitutional court, formed after the country's defeat and dismemberment in the First World War. Lauterpacht advised the British Government on the legal basis of the Nuremberg war crimes trials.  He later sat on the United Nations' Law Commission and as a judge on the International Court of Justice at The Hague.  Cassin served as president of the European Court of Human Rights and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Some of the largest benefactors of human rights organizations, such as George Soros and Sigrid Rausing, are Jewish.  So are many of the world's leading human rights activists and experts—Aryeh Neier of the Open Society Institute, Richard L. Bernstein (the founder of Human Rights Watch), Peter Benenson (founder of Amnesty International), Lord Lester of Herne Hill (co-founder of Interights), the British judges Lord Hoffmann and Sir Stephen Sedley, and the former head of Israel's Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, to name only a few. 

Regardless of any calculus of communal benefit, there are very strong reasons for Jews to promote humane practices in peace and in war.  It should be a matter of pride that rabbis such as William G. Braude, Saul Leeman, and Nathan Rosen were active in the civil rights movement in the American South in the 1960s. On a personal note, I wish to pay tribute to my late father, Rabbi Jeno Duschinsky; his Beth Din colleague in Cape Town, Rabbi David Rosen, and his friend Dennis Diamond (of the Board of Deputies of South African Jews) for their stands, albeit cautious, against apartheid. 

In this article and in a second piece on Jewish Ideas Daily tomorrow (dealing with recent and current European conflicts, in particular about the Holocaust and the legality of circumcision and kosher slaughter), I will set out a few of the problems, for Jewish interests, of human rights advocacy.  But, in so doing, it is vital to avoid any misunderstanding about the importance of human rights themselves and the need for tolerance within Jewish communities about the way in which differences of opinion about human rights may be discussed. 

In today's world, we need to avoid the unduly personal attacks made against Jews such as Judge Richard Goldstone when they express unpopular and arguably unjustified criticisms of the behavior of Israeli forces in Gaza.  For example, the Jerusalem-based organization NGO Monitor regularly reports on dubious anti-Israeli accusations made by hostile NGOs which are funded largely by European governments.  It is a great pity that NGO Monitor and the Im Tirzu campaign of Israeli students devote so much of their energies to attacking another Jewish body, the New Israel Fund. 

Nevertheless, the rhetoric and institutions of human rights are sometimes unfair and harmful.  While we need to be respectful of Jews who express sincere reservations about aspects of Jewish morality, religion, and action, there is a tendency on the part of some leading Jewish thinkers and activists to be unduly self-critical.  For sheer brilliance, there probably is no living legal philosopher greater than Dworkin.  But I was taken aback to hear his reply to a theoretical question posed by the eminent political theorist Professor Alan Ryan at a conference at St. Antony's College, Oxford in January, 2009.  Acting as devil's advocate, Ryan asked Dworkin why he felt every life was of equal moral value. Dworkin answered by saying that there were indeed those who did not have this belief: for example, Jews believed in a superior status as the “chosen people.”  In subsequent correspondence, Dworkin justified himself by writing (presumably with reference to the Tanya of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe), “Some Jewish texts, particularly in the mystical tradition, do interpret the claim to imply superiority, though others reject that implication.  I cited only the former interpretation as illiberal.” 

Irrespective of the dubious validity of Dworkin's reference to “the chosen people” as an expression of racial superiority, why did he choose this example?  Why not refer instead to Nazi beliefs or to those of slave owners?  The notion that some Jewish human rights activists are prone to direct too much of their fire against their own co-religionists may sometimes have substance.  A belief in the overarching ideal of human rights appears in some cases to be a form of secular religion. 

When it comes to international human-rights institutions, the bias is undeniable.  One does not need to be a defender of every controversial action by Israel in its dealings with Palestinians to realize that the United Nations Human Rights Council has an unreasonable focus on real or alleged Israeli misdeeds.  Between 2008 and 2010, no less than 48 percent of this body's resolutions were directed against Israel. The notion that Israel is responsible for a half of all the human rights violations in the entire globe is absurd. Secretaries General of the UN Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon have both criticized the UN Human Rights Council for singling out Israel.  “The Council should give the same attention to grave violations committed by other states as well,” said Annan.  Yet the procedures for electing countries to membership on the UN Human Rights Council assure that voting blocks of countries hostile to Israel will predominate. The Council is no august, neutral body but is inherently political. The rules whereby judges are elected by the 121 constituent state parties to the International Criminal Court risk producing the same bias in that body. 

The politicization of human-rights verdicts is not confined to Arab member countries of international human rights bodies.  In 2002, when I was carrying out an academic study of political financing for an international organization based in Scandinavia, I spoke to the country's foreign affairs official responsible for human rights matters about her country's vote in the UN Human Rights Council on the Israeli “massacre” in Jenin. She was an official with whom I had previous contact in connection with my study.  “You needn't worry,” she assured me.  “We know that there was no massacre in Jenin.”  In view of the fact her country knew the accusation was untrue, I asked her to explain her country's vote on the UN Human Rights Council.  Her country wished to vote with the countries of the “South,” she said, and with Europe against the United Kingdom.  Moreover, her ministry had issued a more detailed statement—which, however, had not been translated into English.

This example of prejudice brings me to the vexed issue of the record and attitude of human rights bodies in Europe to the Holocaust and to Jewish religious matters.  This will be explored in tomorrow's article. 

Dr. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky was a member of the United Kingdom Commission on a Bill of Rights.  In the 1990s, he was honorary academic adviser to the London-based Claims for Jewish Slave Labor Compensation.

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PJW5552 on December 27, 2012 at 8:33 am (Reply)
The logic of Michael escapes me. Because Israel is singled out for half the human rights violations, it does not need to address these? Because Israel has committed human rights violations, but so have others it does not matter? Because Jewish people have been leaders in defining human rights and respect and tolerance for others, Israeli violations of the same are irrelevant? The discussion is not about the validity of these claims, but the number (many of which represent repeated charges never addressed by Israel) and thus their lack of validity?

Michael states the UN Human Rights Committee is composed of many nations that dislike Israel. Never addressed is the reason for the dislike, why it exists or what Israel can do to rectify it. It is merely a statement that the world is unfair to Jews, always have been always will be. This dismissal of the reasons for why this animosity exists remains the basis for why it continues. It reflects the same mind-numbing logic used by Dick Cheney to explain why terrorists hate the US, "because we are rich and successful". It has nothing to do with wealth or success. It has to do with how many bodies you walked on to achieve it.

What is achieved by this myopic thinking and ego-centric logic? More conflict, more hate, anger, fear, distrust and war. One may attempt to excuse Israeli actions and misdeeds all one likes, but it does not make them go away and it does not lead to more friends in the world, but fewer friends. Michael may view that as "this is because the people of the world just hate Jews", but the reality is the people of the world dislike selfish, ego-centric nations and individuals who think they are above the rules that should guide everyone, instead of excused by some who think the rules do not apply to them. If Michael wishes to delude himself into thinking Israel does not violate human rights of Palestinians on a daily basis, he needs to get out of his armchair and speak to some Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
    Michael Pinto-Duschinsky on December 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm (Reply)
    Dear PJW5552, Please read the article. It makes clear that human rights are a universal imperative and that "there are very strong reasons for Jews to promote humane practices in peace and in war". Of course Israel needs to address justified criticisms. Not all the criticisms are well-founded, however. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
Yael Perets on December 27, 2012 at 8:43 am (Reply)
Human rights are good for nobody:
Ernie Sternberg on December 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm (Reply)
The central point in Pinto-Duschinsky's essay is not just that the UNHRC targets Israel for condemnation but that most of the accusations are exaggerated, out-of-context, biased, distorted, or utterly false, the false ones amounting to blood libel. A good example is the Jenin Massacre accusation, a vicious lie. Responder PJW5552 above, who is afraid to reveal his identity for some reason, seems to believe that if a vast majority loathes a minority, the majority must be right. The UNHCR has debased human rights discourse the way that Nazis and Communists debased science, using claims of human rights (in the way race science and socialist science was used) to give justification for mass hatred. In a world where the neo-progressive (anti-globalization) Left and the Islamists have very little in common, the blaming of the Jews plays an essential role; this new hatred is the very basis of global anti-capitalist and anti-Western solidarity. Global demonization of the Zionist/Jew is at work and, yes, there are political and economic explanations for it. I invite readers to check out . Sorry for the strong language, but the subject demands it. Ernie
Allen Z. Hertz on December 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm (Reply)
Years ago, Lucy Davidowicz wrote a book about the Holocaust entitled "The War against the Jews." Politically and militarily, there is today again an ongoing war against Jews, the Jewish People and Israel. And, once again the lives of six million Jews are at risk. This current war against the Jews also includes a dimension where law and legal institutions are regularly used to help defeat Jews, disenfranchise the Jewish People and destroy Israel. In this context, Jews, the Jewish People and Israel are akin to the accused in a criminal trial. Because of the high stakes involved in criminal procedures, every defendant has a right to counsel. In the same way -- Jews, the Jewish People and Israel are owed a strong legal defense. And this is all the more true because the Jewish People has for most of the last 2,000 years been the "locus classicus" of the victim-People, just as Black and Native Americans have suffered over a shorter time span. Modern human-rights methodologies suggest that a track record of such victimization gives rise to a right to reparation and enhanced protection from repeated human-rights violations. For this reason, there is a legal requirement of added vigilance to ensure that Jews, the Jewish People and Israel are accorded both fairness and sound social science, just as there is a need for added vigilance to ensure that Black and Native Americans are also treated fairly and with sound social science. Needless to say, these legal requirements are currently not being satisfied. Jews, the Jewish People and Israel are today battling a resurgence of discrimination, ever threatening to tip into outright persecution. Accordingly, there is a professional duty to argue the case for Jews, the Jewish People and Israel, though the task is increasingly difficult because of growing prejudice in key international political and legal institutions,including within the European Union and across the United Nations system. So what do we do? Part of the answer involves following Dworkin's example in enriching the legal sources. Just as Dworkin invoked Jewish Law at Oxford University, so we too should where advantageous freely supplement our pleadings with arguments drawn from morality, natural law, Jewish law, domestic law and whatever elements of other legal systems offer persuasive concepts to defend Jews, the Jewish People and Israel. And in this regard, it is surely no accident that on December 2, 2012, the Israel Cabinet affirmed that the Jewish People has "a natural, historical and legal right to its homeland." Was there shocking bias on the part of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the 2004 advisory opinion on "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory"? You can be sure that there was both bias and a skewed reading of the pertinent treaties. So, let us go beyond the jurisprudence of the ICJ to craft a rich range of juridical arguments that rest on deeper and more fundamental concepts of justice. For example, I have been doing precisely this with regard to my current legal writing about the aboriginal rights of the Jewish People. Please go to for an October 2011 posting called "Jewish Aboriginal Rights to Israel."
S W on December 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm (Reply)
PJW5552 writes "It has to do with how many bodies you walked on to achieve it."

The fundamental tenet of the Frankfurt School forward was to tear away at Western civilization in order to establish socialism -- a word with so many different, contradictory and intellectually bankrupt definitions that it can mean everything and nothing.

The question is which ideology has "walked on" "how many bodies?" The various versions of socialism cry aloud, "Look over there, but not here." Why? Because one can survey the 20th century and find National Socialism's millions of bodies, Soviet Socialism's even more millions of bodies and Sino-Socialism's numerical winner with many, many more millions of bodies. One can survey the 20th century and find Arab Socialism in a variety of forms, and it seems likely that the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East is continuing in this political style of organization. One notes that Arab Socialism managed more "bodies" among Muslims than the current Israel-Palestine low grade war has over decades. As with each example of socialism as cited above, there are modern socialists who rationalize away the massive murderous nature of socialism by a variety of mind numbing schemes, all involving tricks against basic intellect. Among these tricks has been the argument about proportionality in military engagements with Palestinian militants, as if it were more a game than a war.

The papers (thank you) as suggested by Perets, Steinberg and the Davidowicz text all suggest that there is a strategy of employing the "law and legal institutions," and this is in fact the point of the fine article. And yet, PJW5552 wants to measure "how many bodies" by anecdotal means, rather than by overwhelming statistics and documentable proof. This is because a portion of the Frankfurt School's approach was to demean and distract, to obfuscate and confuse. For this, such supposedly bright men as Chomsky and Zinn have been attacking the West by the same means of debate as PJW5552 tried to employ. "Look over there!" Our killing some terrorists is equivalent to them killing us and even them killing each other. With such inane logic, no man may contend against an enemy in a just war. And that is exactly what the Frankfurt School and its decades of offshoots have tried to convince -- but always against the West and specifically against Jews.

Doing the collecting of statistics as a PJW5552 would seek and answering the question "how many bodies you walked on to achieve it," the clear answer is that the supposed guilt of the West in general and Israel in specific pales by any "many bodies" measure one might choose to apply. Socialism in its many varieties and forms has managed so "many bodies" that it is now tallied in the hundreds of millions. For this, the same old challenge as regards Israel is trotted out: "speak to some Palestinians." The particular does not wash away the general, and especially across the killing fields of socialism throughout the 20th century, among them Arab Socialist killing fields and its millions of dead, the majority Muslims by the hand of Muslims.

Each time someone violates another's rights, rights are of course violated. The easier path then is to argue for live and let live. It is the "let live" part of this seemingly naive equation which socialists simply cannot abide, and so the argument about human rights falls into the arsenal of enemies of Jews. For to "let live" has been and remains an anathema to them, while I predict that "some Palestinians" would like peacefully if a true peace with Israel were assured. But as we have heard, the socialists among the Muslim world announce there can be no peace with Israel, and therefore no "let live." Given this, such as PJW5552's retort to the article are at best withered bits of resentment of the West filtered through the socialist's ideology, and at worst outright resentment of Israel's right of self determination and self-defense in a neighborhood where it is regularly attacked militarily and through the side channels of "human rights" rhetoric.
Jerry Blaz on December 28, 2012 at 4:12 am (Reply)
When Jews are accused of human rights violations, we must always look to the source. At the United Nations, etc., charges of human rights violations have been used on an extraordinary scale because of the unresolved Israel-Palestinian situation justifying an entire group of nations including the Arab and other Muslim states to nitpick Israel's behavior regarding human rights violations. The fact is that there may be political rights in question but not human rights, but this difference is obfuscated by the use of this human rights terminology.

Regarding the "chosen people" concept, like Tevye in "Fiddler" says in speaking to his God, "Can't you chose some other people for a while?" Chosenness as a quality for any minority, and the Jews have been existing as minorities until 1947 everywhere in the world, is bound to be used against that minority as it was used against the Jews. Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan writing in the 30s gave up on the claim of chosenness to the extent where he deleted the "baxar banu" (has chosen us from among the nations) from the liturgy and substituted it with "asher kirev otanu l'avodato" (has drawn us near unto his service). Even in many Reconstructionist congregations it was a difficult change to make in the liturgy and consequently it has remained. Regardless of how one views this thinking, in the pre-state period of Israel, Jews did not boast of their alleged "superiority" at a time when the need for human rights recognition was still an ideal.
Christopher Rushlau on January 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm (Reply)
There is something gravely troubling in the author's approach. You cannot do law in a courtroom filled with a lynch mob, as Holmes said about the case of Leo Frank. The author must justify to me the idea of a "Jewish and democratic state" before he brings in UN Human Rights Commission statistics, etc. What does that phrase from the Basic Laws of 1992 mean? I've read the brief popular statement by former Chief Justice Barak, which includes the paragraph heading, "Equality is a complex right". Pfui, as Nero Wolfe would say.
The test of law as a sociological entity, something you can poke with a stick, is whether it brings peace ("justice is everything in its place"). "Hit a man with a stick and he'll come back; hit him with justice and he'll stay away," says the Kenyan proverb. "When everybody tells you you're drunk, you should lie down." Arabic proverb. I apply that latter aphorism directly to Israel. Israel should ask itself what it is trying to do. That topic seems to be taboo in and about Israel, hence all the inanity: "emptiness". I did an electronic document search in my local law school's library for "Jewish state" or maybe "Israel" about two years ago, and found one document, a periodical article written by a law student, who identified himself as Jewish, and its stated purpose was to ask why there was no scholarship on Israeli law in US legal academia.
The bit of Dworkin I've run into makes me believe, with my mentor at law school, that the concept of legal scholarship in the US is a joke.
If law is not a "mandate of reason promulgated by authority for the common good," what is it? I reduce it, given the need for all those terms to be defined, to a public examination of a social problem. There is a whole universe of discourse waiting to take place in legal academia about what law is, what the law is, and what a law is. There are, what, eight centuries (since Aquinas) to catch up on, and instead we have a huge pile of inanity.
Israel is the proof of how far behind we are in our scholarship. The first principle of existence (per metaphysics) is that something cannot simultaneously be and not be. Israel cannot simultaneously be a Jewish state and a democratic state unless those two adjectives mean the same thing or unless they are entirely disparate, what I call skew concepts, like being blue and being woolen. If they are skew, there should be no limitations on democracy in Israel, nor any limitations on Judaism or Jewishness. Is Jewishness the same as Judaism? That suggests that conflicts between "Jewish" and "democratic" are unavoidable. What is the response to the suggestion that "separation of church and state" and "equal treatment of the laws", to quote the US Bill of Rights, are the only proposal on the table for handling that conflict?
My definition, "public examination", means a conversation. What premises are needed to have a conversation? Thanks for "opening the door" to that conversation.
    Allen Z. Hertz on January 4, 2013 at 2:01 am (Reply)
    Replying to Christopher Rushlau: Most Jews around the world see Israel as "the" Jewish State, i.e. as the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People in a part of its larger aboriginal homeland. Like other Peoples, the Jewish People has a right to self-determination. Though the self-determination of the great Arab People is expressed via twenty-one Arab countries, Israel is the sole expression of the self-determination of the great Jewish People. Some Western thinkers are now uncomfortable with the idea of a nation-State as the homeland of a particular People. If so, there is no special reason to target Israel, because other countries are also nation-States. For example, also nation-States are Japan, Italy, Greece and the countries of the Arab League. In theory and practice, the nation-State model does not have to conflict with fundamental civil and human rights for aliens or for citizens who do not ethnically self-identify as members of the majority People. Moreover, the nation-State can also accommodate collective rights for one or more minority Peoples. And, with regard to such individual and collective rights, Israel domestic law is probably comparable to what is provided by other legal systems, and likely superior to what is offered in other Middle Eastern States. Maybe it is best to be fair and comparative in approaching matters touching Israel, where six million Jews now live as 75% of that country's population. And with an eye to those six million Jews, modern human-rights methodologies are probably astute enough to understand the intimate connection between Israel and the Jewish People, which for close to 2,000 years has been the victim of discrimination and persecution at the hands of both Christians and Muslims. There is probably no firewall that logically separates the matter of Israel from that of the Jewish People. Thus, the modern meaning of "antisemitism" likely includes persistently targeting Israel and persistently applying to Israel a more exigent standard than regularly applied to other countries in the same or similar circumstances. Nor is this question of a modern definition of antisemitism merely a debate about words, it also probably has something to do with the kind of discrimination that now includes repeated threats by some Muslims (Iranians and others) to destroy Israel and kill the six million Jews there.
      Christopher Rushlau on January 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm (Reply)
      I'm waiting for Mr. Pinto-Duschinsky to answer my criticisms. Perhaps my "slam" on Dworkin, after Dworkin went out on a limb to draw attention to the anomalies of the Jewish state in Palestine, only added to Mr. Pinto-Duschinsky's unwillingness to grapple with the legal concepts involved.
      There are two other lines of criticism the JSP must answer. One is the right to occupy that territory. In an era when European colonies were reverting to indigenous ownership via plebiscite, Palestine went the other direction.
      Then, secondly, the domination of European politics by supporters of the JSP (the mob in the courtroom to which I referred above) makes the points about legal design and territorial claims of the JSP impinge directly on domestic European affairs. Rather than have law recognize the anomalies of the JSP, the destruction of law is under way.
      The heart of the law is a cogent paragraph, which means steady use of terms. The heart of the political culture is the use of such paragraphs. In a lynch mob, the function of culture is anti-political and anti-legal: to deprive the members and onlookers of the ability to describe what is happening (not to mention the victim), so as to legislate about it.
      As for Mr. Hertz's remarks, what are "collective rights"? "...[M]odern human-rights methodologies are probably astute enough to understand the intimate connection between Israel and the Jewish People..." sounds like a threat or is bluster. "There is probably no firewall that logically separates the matter of Israel from that of the Jewish People." Definitions are not empirical matters, subject to probability. You can make any definition as long as you use it consistently. Likewise for, "t]hus, the modern meaning of 'antisemitism' likely includes persistently targeting Israel and persistently applying to Israel a more exigent standard than regularly applied to other countries in the same or similar circumstances." I don't think "exigent" is the term you're looking for. But exigency is the topic here: what issues, what questions force themselves on our attention? Let me offer some free advice. Israel must decide if it is an attempt to safeguard Jews and Jewish culture, in which case it should abandon the JSP form of government and adopt "separation of church and state" and "equal treatment of the laws", so as to meet both the design critiques implicit in the Anglo-American legal tradition and the territorial claims of the indigenous people, or, on the other hand, if it is some kind of street-theater psychodrama (militating to who knows what earthly destiny). Politics involves theater but it is not theater. Its output is stop signs and lighthouses, not catharsis and elation. The law cannot deliver such products reliably. "Close enough for government work" is a gibe that should chasten every citizen.
      My advice: have a good conversation about what Israel is and what it is for. A Jewish lady telephoning on behalf of J Street here in the US last year remarked to me, a total but sympathetic stranger, "You don't know how hard it is for a Jew to talk about Israel."
      You might have seen Wallace Shawn's letter on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace last week. "Dear Christopher,
      "I personally always find it nauseating when I hear President Obama or Hillary Clinton defending this or that indefensible policy of the Israeli government. It gives me a uniquely terrible feeling. It’s partly that it’s painful to hear apparently nice people praising brutality. But in addition, as a Jew, I can’t escape the impression that these well-meaning politicians have treated me somehow with a lack of respect.
      "Obviously I don’t know what’s really going on in their minds, but I always imagine that they’re thinking something like, 'Damn, this is awful. I hate defending these vile policies, but I have to do it to please the Jews.'
      "They’re thinking about me. They’re trying to please me. But I’m not pleased. And neither are most other American Jews. The Jews who are pleased are a wealthy minority who have spent piles of money to convince these politicians that they, the minority, represent 'the Jews.'"
      Law runs on candor, even more than it runs on grammar. People are not stupid. I would carve that sentiment on the pediments of public buildings. And in the meantime, I will try to remember it in dealing with my friends.
        Allen Z. Hertz on January 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm (Reply)
        Replying to Christopher Rushlau: You seem to be in some confusion as to the meaning of Israel as "the" Jewish State. You also seem to mistakenly imagine that there is some sort of universal legal requirement that countries observe something like the USA domestic principle of the separation of Church and State. The Israel government does not seek recognition of "a" Jewish State. Rather, the Israel government seeks Muslim and Arab acceptance of the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as "the" Jewish State, i.e. as the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People in a part of its aboriginal homeland. The 6 million Jews living in Israel are over 40% of world Jewry and 75% of that country's population. Worldwide, most Jews continue to self-identify as part of the Jewish People and see Israel as "the" Jewish State. This means that Jews generally regard Israel as their aboriginal homeland and as the political expression of their self-determination as a People among the world's Peoples. Thus, Israel as "the" Jewish State is internationally not primarily about the religion of Judaism, but rather mostly about the modern political and legal doctrines of aboriginal rights and the self-determination of Peoples. This means that, in the diplomatic context, the adjective "Jewish" in the phrase "the Jewish State" largely refers not to the religion of Judaism, but mostly to the Jews as a People; just as there is a Japanese, an Italian and a Greek People. The phrase "a Jewish State" does not feature once in UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947) recommending partition of what remained of Mandate Palestine after the 1946 treaty excising the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (Eastern Palestine). Significantly, the partition recommendation refers more than thirty times to "the Jewish State" which is juxtaposed to "the Arab State." This couplet powerfully supports the understanding that the adjective "Jewish" in the phrase "the Jewish State" internationally refers primarily to the Jewish People rather than to the religion of Judaism. Otherwise, the companion reference to the other part of Mandate Palestine would logically have been "the Muslim State" rather than "the Arab State." The centrality of the notion of the Jewish People is also supported by the 1948 Declaration of Establishment of the State of Israel, which has more than a dozen references to the Jews as a People among the world's Peoples. By contrast, there are just two indirect references that perhaps point to the religion of Judaism. In addition to being "the" Jewish State internationally, at home Israel is fully entitled to be more or less of "a" Jewish State, i.e. a country that chooses to domestically give the religion and values of Judaism a special role in the public space. And to be sure, a hotly debated topic among Jews, both in Israel and abroad, is whether Israel ought to follow the United States in a thoroughgoing observation of the domestic principle of the separation of Church and State. But make no mistake! Internationally there is no legal norm that requires governments to observe at home the separation of Church and State. Nor internationally is there a moral or political consensus that there ought to be such a requirement of domestic secularism. Not surprisingly, there are many countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, Greece, and the United Kingdom whose constitutions have a special place for the native religion. Thus, the extent to which Israel ought to be domestically more secular or more of "a" Jewish State is a matter of democratic free choice for all of Israel citizens, who regularly argue all sides of the question, including with Jews in the United States and elsewhere in the Diaspora. Though the native religion has a special place in Israel, that country is hardly exceptional in this regard. Such special treatment for the religion of Judaism at home does not detract from Israel's status as "the" Jewish State internationally, i.e. as the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People in a part of its aboriginal homeland.
          Christopher Rushlau on January 6, 2013 at 11:50 am
          This is war by artillery barrage. Good for Krupp, even better for the private soldier who doesn't have to "go over the top". Instead, he merely waits for bad luck and good engineering to land a shell on his head and send him into oblivion in small pieces.
          I would like to suggest that the politics you rely on are the politics of the turn of the 20th Century. I will speak very glibly (as my father would have said) about those politics. The phrase "fin de siecle" fits my understanding: "end of the cycle" or "end of the season". Something was coming to an end. I think it was the end of the transition of Europe from monarchies to democracies as measured by the concept of territorial security. Since the departure of the Roman Empire (and various Asian hordes), Europe had relied on dynasties to defend territory. (I take it that defense of territory is the first principle of law: the wrongness of trespassing.) But internally they had to unleash the power of the people to compete with each other in this dynastic competition. Eventually those popular legal dynamics (defense of the person, the idea, the organization, etc.) trickled down to the individual person. The comity of nations became the comity of persons: what could two persons work out to gain some measure of peace (or as we call it, stability)? That process fed back to the national competition first via treaty blocs, which gave us the First World War, and then treaty organizations, like Geneva Conventions, the League, the UN, etc. The tipping point, where dynastic competition gave way to international legal administration of disputes, was the issue of overseas empire. Europe paid the price of gaining the stability of an international legal regime by giving up the privilege their monarchical predecessors claimed: as the Norseman would say, the right to "go a-viking": raiding, pillaging, and where available, nation-building, as the creation of Russia as a national idea by Norse raiders.
          I suppose Israel represents that model of national identity, almost a thousand years too late. No, you're right, the USA also fits that model. But on the other hand the USA had to lead the way, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, of repudiating that heritage and model.
          History, in my understanding, makes changes in a chemical fashion. First a glob is one thing, then it is partly one thing and partly another, then it is the other thing. Working backwards from the end product, you designate the tipping point, although that point was amidst the most ambiguous structure of the glob. When people are the chemicals, they look back and they look forward. Fin de siecle was the recognition that Charlemagne was no more and Charlie Chaplin was the coming thing.
          And so it has proved to be. Bear with me in some anachronisms and figurative language.
          Such liberties are permissible in the art of history. The relationship of history and politics, and thus of history and law, is a rich one, but the essential difference must be borne in mind. Law is about stop signs and lighthouses, not catharsis and elation, as I said. History is the attempt to understand where we are now, so as to mobilize personal qualities in the identification and resolution of current crises: where is the new stop sign required?
          At first glance, Israel appears to be an historical analysis masquerading as a state: a professor waving a machine gun in the lecture hall. But there is something of grim good faith in it, and I've attempted to show here that it is a refusal to accept the transition of Europe from dynastic competition to popular law (to coin a phrse): from privilege to common law.
          Now we are in a different discipline if that is true. How can a group of millions of persons mislocate their century, even millennium? Goethe said grief is like a fog. I look back down my life's way so far and it seems I've been mostly in the fog. I had a math teacher ask me that very thing in fifth grade. Something had happened at home of great traumatic effect, but the only way I register it, even now, is when the math teacher remarked to me that I seemed to be in a fog. I read the Goethe quote about seven years later, and again, though recognizing it (so as to remember it forty years later) at the time, I was still in so much of a fog, arising from related events, that, as it seems now, I was almost disengaged from events around me. They had at most a metaphorical content. I was in a street-theater's psychodrama of entirely my own making, but due entirely to events that were occurring around me, and on the other hand, people who should have been consulting with me about those events did not. I had to "keep my own counsel", and it plunged me into a waking dream state, I should judge now. I meet people I knew then and I think their first reaction is, "He woke up!". That is to say, "Who is this guy who looks like Chris the sleepwalker but he's awake?!"
          Israel, to apply to Jews the expression my best friend down the street, a Jew, applied to me when he met me twenty years later (like in a French novel title?): "You were going through serious times." The Nazis' "final solution", in the perspective of European Jew-hatred ("anti-semitism" is an appalling term), from Oliver Cromwell wanting to bring back the expelled English Jews to send them to Palestine to bring on the Second Coming of Christ, to the Dreyfus affair in France (see, I am treating the entire modern European period here), to pogroms in Russia, were some "serious terms" for anybody who cared about Jews, Jewishness, and Judaism.
          In that fog Israel was created. Look at that term, "created". Or "declaration of independence". From what? Did the English elite see Israel as a way of getting rid of English Jews, again? Was it the US/UK/French desire (a poll of US voters in about 1949 had about half of them tolerating the idea of a Jewish president) to inflict a wound on Asia to stem the further advance of legal history under the goading of socialism if not to initiate a beachhead for the final conquest of that mythical continent (in the mind of a fifteenth century European despot)?
          Was it a suicide attempt by Jews who had lost their place in the world? I think suicide can best be understood that way. I combine two terms, suicide, and anomie, perhaps unlike sociologits have tried to before. One loses one's place in the world, as if it were a book, and rather than accuse the world of being willfully incomprehensible, one assigns the blame to oneself, deems oneself defective, and, as a final bit of housekeeping (the least one can do), one deactivates one's own body. If this is done with a bit of drama and pomp, one hopes to be forgiven that bit of vanity.
          So I hope in law as a public examination of a social problem for the future of Jews in the world. If Israel pursues its course, I worry that there will be a new wave of Jew-hatred that will destroy the common law, the popular law, the idea of law as pertaining to all persons, not merely to states and dynasties. A lynch mob is a mass suicide attempt, using the actual victim as a dramatic prop.
          We must unleash our historial imaginations, so as to see where we really are right now. For one thing, we must prepare ourselves to think the worse, of others and ourselves. We are in a crisis. We are responsible, at the moment, for solving it. We have nothing to go on. We must start from scratch. So we make the first analytical motion, and then see what "the world" offers by way of reply. If it displays "bad faith", then we must not get discouraged, but rather take on more responsibility: we must now also explain why "the world" is not helping our analysis in the crisis. Yet we must not prepare for a world where only we exist. We act in lieu of due authority, and cannot just consign the uncooperative "world" to extinction because it is a poor conversationalist.
          Peace works, but only if you insist on it.
    S W on January 4, 2013 at 11:41 am (Reply)
    Rushlau writes, "The test of law as a sociological entity, something you can poke with a stick, is whether it brings peace...." This being said, between the Muslim nations tearing themselves apart with civil wars and cross border conflicts, between the United States and European allies at war in Afghanistan, between government and insurgents in the nacro-wars in so many places, between Muslims and christians in African nations, not to mention the recent century now past, one may conclude that Rushlau has identified the problem -- there has been no peace, and therefore all the "tests of law" have failed, most specifically all the so-called international laws to which every one give lip service while no one agrees nor adheres to such law. War is everywhere in limited to larger ways, and therefore no "test of law" has been passed with flying colors.

    Mr. Rushlau additionally writes, "The first principle of existence (per metaphysics) is that something cannot simultaneously be and not be." Given the failure of his first statement about a test of law as bringing of peace, his second statement also makes an unexpected point. Since his first and proposed "test of law" fails based on his own words, it -- the test of law by failing to "bring peace" --cannot both be and not be. Or as Nero Wolfe was quoted to say, "Pfui."

    He asks, "What premises are needed to have a conversation?" Given the observed data of many years of articles and cross talk via comments on JID alone, there is conversation aplenty, without the need to query waht premises are needed.
      Christopher Rushlau on January 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm (Reply)
      The cure for bad law is good law. It is not possible to have no law.
      People know when they are in a conversation and when it is over. It is a shared venture, more, a shared crisis with a shared resolution. I now realize there is something to be added to that principle. If the conversation is about a third person, the two conversationalists will know, at the end of their conversation, if they need to talk to the third person. Israeli Jews need to talk to indigenous Palestinians.
      I seem to be talking too much but I call this "priming the pump", so people will start talking to each other. So let me add that my time in Iraq with the US military in 2004, and then my time when I got back, led me to make an assessment of US policy toward Iraq: nobody concerned had ever spent a half hour talking with an Iraqi or with someone else who had spent a half hour with an Iraqi.
      A law professor I encountered at random in Boise, Idaho, once told me it actually only takes ten minutes of chit-chat to encounter the person you're talking to.
      Racism is the idea, the legal principle, that the person you're talking to is not a person. It's a cogent principle that leads to disaster. The exigency in the administration of that principle is that the other person, the despised person, cannot be successfully blotted out of one's awareness as a person. So the cost of the denial steadily rises. It is probably ultimately a matter of biology and thus chemistry, building up an electro-chemical charge which issues in either a fit of rage or a joyful reconciliation (can you reconcile with someone you were never "conciled" with in the first place?) with the despised person.
      I'll suggest what the Palestinian would really like to say (realizing all the burdens of that prediction): what about this all is so important to you? Test my prediction. Maybe I'm flat wrong.
Marko Weinberger on January 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm (Reply)
Jewish and Israeli interests are not necessarily identical, particularly as regards human rights.
S W on January 6, 2013 at 4:22 am (Reply)
Mr. Rushlau writes, "The cure for bad law is good law. It is not possible to have no law." And who adjudicates over what is bad law? And who announces what is good law? The logical concundrum for the lawyer is that law is not its own adjudicator. Exterior authority is required, and this comes from the secualar world in one way and from religious traditions in others. Authority comes before law. Shall we discuss which authority?

Rushlau adds, "what the Palestinian would really like to say." There is plenty of public rhetoric such as "from the river to the sea" and "all of Palestine" defining Israel into nothingness already. Has he not heard "death to Israel?" Fatah and Hamas, Hizbollah and others, all uniformly have threatened destruction of Israel and Jews. It becomes apparent that Rushlau is not informed on what Palestinians have already said. Or perhaps it becomes necessary that he ignore such pronouncements to hold and argue for his views.

Rushlau sums up wiht "Maybe I'm flat wrong." Coming from someone lecturing about the primacy of law as a way to adjudicate between good law and bad law, as between Palestinians and Israelis, as between Muslims and Jews, I agree with his final statement wholeheartedly.
Allen Z. Hertz on January 6, 2013 at 6:41 am (Reply)
Reply to Christopher Rushlau: In the current optic, whether a particular self-identified "Palestinian" person or an Israel Jew is individually "indigenous" to a specific country or territory depends on the particular place of his or her birth. In this specific sense, there are today millions of "indigenous" Israel Jews and perhaps millions of non-indigenous self-identified "Palestinians." As for the "indigenous" status of historic Peoples with proven subjective and objective identity over time, the specifically "Jewish" People is indigenous in that its ethnogenesis occurred there sometime around the 6th century BCE. And since that time, there has never been a year when self-identified "Jews" were absent from their ancestral homeland. There were also always many more Jews right next door in what today we call Syria, Egypt and the broader Middle East. Similarly, the specifically "Palestinian" People is equally "indigenous," because its ethnogenesis occurred there a half-century ago in the mid-1960's. There is absolutely no historical evidence showing that before 1960 there was ever a specific human population that "generally" self-identified as "the Palestinian People." In this regard, I am not splitting hairs. Rather I am vigorously rejecting prejudicial comparisons between Jews returning to join other Jews in the aboriginal homeland of the Jewish People and the 17th-century Pilgrim Fathers who built English "settlements" in the Americas where they had neither ancestors nor native kin. Though obscured by the seemingly boundless intellectual tyranny of the majority principle, the outstanding historical fact remains that for around 26 centuries there have always been self-identified "Jews" living in the Land of Israel (Eretz Israel). For the last two millennia, the self-identified "Jews" living there have always had the strongest claim to be "native," though they were more often than not mostly just a small fraction of the total population there. Today, the aboriginal Peoples of North America still have the best claim to be native to the USA and Canada, despite the fact that they are now just a small fraction of the total population of North America. In Canada, some of the individual aboriginal Peoples today number just several hundred. However, the question of such a tribe's numbers has nothing to do with its claim to be a "First Nation." As between the great Jewish People and the great Arab People, the fundamental equities were arguably examined between 1917 and 1923, when David Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson worked with others to effect some global implementation of the principle of the self-determination of Peoples. Though still a matter of great bitterness, the issue is arguably "res judicata" as between the great Jewish People and the great Arab People. The 1917-1923 decision to create "a national home for the Jewish People" was simultaneous to generous provision for the self-determination of the great Arab People via creation or recognition of several Arab States which were then set on the path to eventual independence. Before the first half of 1946, "the Palestine Mandate of the League of Nations" undeniably included Transjordan (Eastern Palestine). From the late 4th century CE until 1946, every "Palestine" that has ever existed included some or all of the territory that is today the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. From the origins of modern cartography until the outbreak of the First World War, hundreds of European and American maps portray a then politically-nonexistent "Palestine" which invariably extended eastward across the Jordan River. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is in this sense already "Palestinian." However, today Arabs between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea now generally self-identify as "the Palestinian People." Therefore, we probably now have to take them at their word, because their current self-identification is the principal criterion. This new "Palestinian" People probably now has a right to self-determination, including new claims to territory and independence. However, the Jewish People is also there. In the words of the Israel Cabinet (December 2, 2012): "The Jewish People has a natural, historical and legal right to its homeland." This suggests that subsequent Palestinian self-determination rights have to be "reconciled" (in the sense of juridical reconciliation) with prior Jewish rights, including the aboriginal, treaty and self-determination rights of the Jewish People. No easy task! But one that cannot in any way be facilitated by smearing the name of the Jewish People in its aboriginal homeland.
    Christopher Rushlau on January 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm (Reply)
    If you want to win me over, you must respond to the body of my concerns. I will try to do likewise. There is no such thing as a collective right. That would be a contradiction in terms.
John D on January 6, 2013 at 11:30 am (Reply)
In response to SW, I caution you - and others - where media-provided interpretations of speeches by Palestinian leaders are concerned. The BBC has had to retract one interpretation of a speech by a Hamas leader, which portrayed a mono-typical call for the elimination of Israel. This was incorrect; what the speech challenged was a racist regime in the de facto state area of Israel. It was not a call for the destruction of the people living in the area. It is probable that the Palestiians are now in a position where they have pragmatically to accept the continuing existence of people of differemnt beliefs in this part of the Middle East. Most I have met want simply to leave peacefully and quietly alongside their neighbours. They become resentful when they see criminal gangs of settlers tearing down their homes and olive trees, as well as illegally occupying their land. Who among us would not feel the same way? The problem is one of basic fairness, which is the principal principle which underlies - or is widely believed should underlie - the practice of law. Ending a situation of basic unfairness towards the Palestinains should be a goal which all well-meaning and well-intentioned individuals should surely share in ?
As a UK national, it is my belief that the British treated the Palestinians utterly shabbily for decades. British imperialist racism always thought better of "European" Zionists than it did of Orientalist Arabists. The British sided with the Zionists, even up to and including actual ethnic cleansing in Palestine. British involvement in Palestine is one long period of shame.
S W on January 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm (Reply)
John d's caution is noted but devalued. Media-provided interpretations are what we all have, from Israeli media to Al-Jazeera and other Arab media, from the BBC to American media, and here in Germnay others still. "Death to Israel" is not unsusual, any more than Fatah's most recent iconography showing all of Israel as a part of the new Palestine. Illegal occupation is a fine buzz words, but when consistent rules are exmained throughout, all become hoisted on the same petard, including the nicest Muslims and Muslim apologists. "Basic unfairness towards Palestinians" is a meaningless phrase for a variety of reasons, beginning with the definition of "fair" and who gets to define it. Israel as a nation of laws adjudicates much, and title to property is title to property. As to "British imperialist racsim," such a phrase indicates one's mindset and politics. The assertion that "the British sided with the Zionists" is open to much debate even now, but the charge of "ethnic cleansing of Palestine" is nothing more than ranting looniness. More Christians and Jews have fled Muslims lands than have Muslims "fled" Israel, excepting the interesting event in which Muslim neighbors advised this in anticipating winning a war. The rest is history. Are Muslims in the UK "illegally occupying" property there? Every quote I have made to refer to Palestinian militants calling for the destruction of Israel is documentable. British involvement in Palestine is over, just as the War with Spain is over. One should remember, but not continue the wars in other methods and by other means. Palestine may have peace with Israel, and only need announce borders which we all may see. Have you, John D, knowledge of Paelstine's borders? The only ones I have seen proposed to date eradicate Israel.
John D on January 7, 2013 at 2:22 am (Reply)
The use of the term 'illegal occupation' has been used by British Government Ministers from the UK Prime Minister on down to describe illegal settlements in the West Bank. They are also considered as such under the Geneva Convention. Recent maps of the de facto (arguably not de jure) state of Israel now run from the sea to the river. As Israel is not a de jure state, it cannot be one properly based upon laws; the only law that applies for most Palestinians at the hands of the occupying forces is the rule of the soldier and settler gun. The Nakbah ethnic cleansing of Palestinians carried out between 1948 and 1950 by the Haganah, Irgun and Stern Gang meant that around half of the indigenous population was terrorised out of Palestine by Czechoslovak arms.
    S W on January 7, 2013 at 11:10 am (Reply)
    The use of the Palestinian term, Nabka, well illustrates the polemic which John D presses into this comment stream. Coming the day after Independence Day for Israel, this term refers to the "catastrophe" for the Palestinians. Over sixty years have passed with repeated wars, decades of negotiations, massive amounts of foreign aid (an amount funding such fine things as Arafat's wife/widow living like a queen in Paris), and John D finds this day to be singled out for mention in the vocabulary of Palestinian politics.

    As to "illegal occupation" and the policy of the British government, a web search for contemporary public statements by the last several administrations shows no official statement available to be seen. If John D would like to provide a link to a UK government site which documents his statement, it would be interesting for him to provide a link.

    The continued use of the term, 'ethnic cleansing," by John D only aimed at Israel is a seriously one-sided slur. Ethnic cleansing is a political and legal term in use these days, and ethnic cleansing is more a crime committed over time by Muslim governments in the neighborhood, as demographic changes indicate. Jews have been far more "ethnically cleansed" than Muslims, and the continued use of this as a one-sided argument is telling. John D is simply a Palestinian apologist revealing ever a little more of his politics as he writes.
      Christopher Rushlau on January 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm (Reply)
      I'm sorry but I must intrude upon this conversation. "A Palestinian apologist" is someone who tries to supply some justification for being a Palestinian?
        S W on January 8, 2013 at 3:25 am (Reply)
        Although I move between several languages, my English dictionary defines "apologist" as a word dating back to 1640, meaning "one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something." Therefore a Palestinian apologist need not be a Palestinian, but one who speaks or writes in defense of Palestine and/or Palestinians." Mr. Rushlau seems to write using a diffferent definition, so perhaps his scholarship might be more understandable, were he to inform which dictionary he prefers.
John D on January 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm (Reply)
'Settlements beyond the green line are illegal.’ (UK Prime Minister David Cameron, 15 October 2012). See I am sure you will find much in that speech you will agree with but you have also to be cognizant of the other content which may be less agreeable. I have said before that a real and lasting peace solution requires generosity and magnanimity on all parts. This applies equally to the Palestinian leadership as well as to the Israeli leadership. The world is full of historical wrongs. In Britain, we could blame the Romans for stamping out of existence the Druidic culture. On a global level, we could also blame former Emperor Constantine for setting up a state religion of Christianity and ensuring centuries of religious persecution for many largely blameless individuals. But what is achieved through this blame game? The same is true where others are concerned. Israel is but a very tiny corner of a planet Earth floating silently in a vast Universe. Is it necessary to have all this hatred and extremism on the part of one tiny religious cult? The real problem is one of extreme nationalism; Zionism developed as a response to extreme German nationalism. People everywhere need to understand that we are all part of one world. What unites us - or should unite us - is our common humanity, in which we accord ourselves and all others equal rights.
    S W on January 8, 2013 at 3:44 am (Reply)
    Cameron's speech of 12 October 2012 was most illuminating. "...people who are determined to build the strongest possible relationship between Britain and Israel." The "illegal" stance refers to settlements, not the nation, and is said to be so based on the "demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements." It is neither an internationally agreed upon nor permanent border, and therefore not "de jure." EMany cite errors on the map as referred to in UN 242, and this green line was not agreed to by Palestinian authorities in 1949 or since. Ergo the term "illegal" in the context of the speech is also not "de jure" but rather political in an attempt to further the two state solution, a plan which the Palestinian leadership has also never fully committed to seeing enacted. Extrapolating Cameron's mention into more than a political and not "de jure" stance is an error, for Britain would have had to have obtained the full agreement of the Palestinian leadership to define what they have as yet not defined -- borders. Without the Palestinian concession to agree with the 1949 mandate as a minimum starting point, the whole negotiation is all political and has been for decades. One notes that Cameron ended his speech with his wish for "...the peace and security for Israel that its people so richly deserve."
John D on January 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm (Reply)
The use of the term 'aboriginal' to describe modern day affiliates of the Jewish religion is clearly incorrect. The aboriginal ancestors of this particualr area of the Middle East are the Canaanites, who have an unbroken history atretching back over 200,000 years, as evidenced in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem.
The founders of Judaism, Osarseph-Moses and Abraham, were both foreigners to the area. Osarseph-Moses was an Egyptian, married to an Ehtiopian, and Abraham was an Iraqi, married to his own sister.
    S W on January 8, 2013 at 3:36 am (Reply)
    Given John D's use of the term Osarseph-Moses as well as Nabka, we now learn that his definitions are other than Jewish, given that the term stems from 1st century writings and has no earlier antecedent in written history. Given that he wants to refer to Mesopotamia by the modern name political Iraq shows that he chooses his historical words by inconsistent practice. Given that Mohammed was from the area now known as Saudi Arabia, Islam may also be argued to be "foreign" to the areas now recognized by the UN as Israel and Paelstine. One can be this game backwards and forwards many times over. The facts on the groung are that Israel exists, the Paelstinian people exist and two groups vie to be the political leasderip, Fatah and Hamas. The fact also exists that while Israel has both temporary and more historical borders per UN 242, the Palestinian leadership in flux has refuses to define their wished-upon borders for that would reveal the longer game.

    The last sentence is illogical though highly political. One reads, "a state based on religion and blood is a racist state." This being said, most Islamic countries are racist. Moreover, based on "blood," all the socialist states of the 20th century have been horribly bloody, so one might well argue that socialism is both racist and a religion unto itself. Statistics are readily available to further this fact.
S W on January 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm (Reply)
The lecturer on law asks: "The question you must answer is whether the Jewish state in Palestine, with its tendentious conception of law (e.g., does the UN have the power to create a state? Yes in the case of Israel but no in the case of a second state in Palestine seems to be the consensus, albeit self-contradictory, answer), is good for Jews, and how so."

Palestine's latest status courteay of the UN vote of this last month proves you incorrect. Additionally Abbas' directive to change even the stationery now to the "State of Palestine" proves you wrong. When Palestine -- the state -- officially announces its borders and they do not wipe Israel off the map but rather make for the possiblity of neigbbors who could then conclude a peace might be good of Jews, if it comes to be. When Palestine -- the State of, as it itself now says -- announces borders which wipe Israel away, it will obviously be terrible for Jews. Now why is such a simple question so difficult for a lawyer to construct for himself?
    Chris Rushlau on January 8, 2013 at 11:17 pm (Reply)
    If you value my opinions about law, take this advice: what do you hope to get out of the Jewish state in Palestine, for yourself, for Jews, for the world? What seems reasonable to expect?
John D on January 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm (Reply)
As a humanist, I accept that all the empires which were established around the world all chose to adopt their own official state religions, including the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Hyksos-Hebrews and the Arabs. It is evident that religion is the cheapest form of social control, which is why state religions were always adopted by emerging imperial powers to the ultimate and long-term detriment of humankind. Maps are shown on the Palestine National Authority web site which show the area they consider as under their nominal control as the existing Gaza and West Bank areas. Whatever ambitions they may have entertained in the past, it seems to me the Palestinians would be perfectly happy to see the 1949 borders re-established. The question is are the people living in the de facto state of Israel prepared to live within the same borders?
S W on January 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm (Reply)
John D writes, "it seems to me," and then asks a generalized question to an entire nation with different political parties and viewpoints which need to be resolved by democratic means. John D's "seems to me" cannot possibly speak for the leadership of Fatah and the PA in the West Bank or Hamas and others in Gaza. With so many variables, "it seems to me" no one can answer this humanist's question, pose as often as he wish to, until time intervenes and those who are mostly not humanists solve this problem amongst themselves by warfare, negotiation and treaty, or a continued status quo. What is left? Wait and see.
S W on January 9, 2013 at 2:23 am (Reply)
You presume, and incorrectly. Speaking for myself, I do not value your opinions about law. Re-read your own post, for you now offer "advice" in the form of two questions, neither of them framed in concepts nor language of law.
    Christopher Rushlau on January 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm (Reply)
    What do you think law is?
John D on January 9, 2013 at 7:11 am (Reply)
SW is right, of course. He raises a very valid point when he points to the sheer numbers of actors involved. I believe there are something like 13 or 15 different political parties on the Palestinian side and another number of political parties on the Israeli side. What is needed is clear leadership on both sides which has the generosity of spirit to be sufficiently empathetic enough to see matters from the side of the other group and to be able to accommodate them. What is needed is a Mandela and a de Klerk of the Middle East.

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