Saturday, August 15, 2009

The question of the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention on occupation to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.


by Howard Grief

The legal question of the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to Judea, Samaria and Gaza has been the source of great argument ever since the Israel Defense Forces restored them to the possession of the Jewish People and the State of Israel in the Six-Day War. Some analysts who have approached this question have relied only on Article 2 of the Convention to determine if it applies to these territories, when the actual answer is to be found by combining Article 2 with Article 6 of the Convention.

The relevant paragraphs of Article 2 read as follows:

In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.
The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance (emphasis added).

The relevant paragraphs of Article 6 state:

The present Convention shall apply from the outset of any conflict or occupation mentioned in Article 2.
In the territory of Parties to the conflict, the application of the present Convention shall cease on the general close of military operations. In the case of occupied territory, the application of the present Convention shall cease one year after the general close of military operations; however, the Occupying Power shall be bound, for the duration of the occupation, to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory, by the provisions of the following Articles of the present Convention: 1-12, 27, 29 to 34, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 59, 61 to 77, 143. (emphasis added).

In light of the fact that Article 2(1) of the Convention applies to all cases of declared war or armed conflict between two or more of the High Contracting Parties and that the states engaged in the Six-Day War were and remain parties to the Convention, there can be no doubt that at the outset of the war on June 5, 1967 until its conclusion on June 10, 1967, all the provisions of the Convention applied to each of the combatant states of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria and to the territories that Israel brought under its military control as a result of the war, regardless of their legal status or sovereignty at the time and regardless of whether or not they were to be considered "occupied territories" under international law. During the war, the Convention also applied regardless of the formalistic question of whether it represented treaty law that required incorporation into the domestic law or customary law that did not require such incorporation. The discussion here will be limited to the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to Judea, Samaria and Gaza after June 10, 1967 when the state of active war or hostilities between Israel and the combatant Arab states terminated, even without a peace treaty.

To begin with, it is important to note that the "military operations" referred to in Article 6 of the Convention ceased altogether on June 10, 1967, in accordance with three UN Security Council resolutions passed during the Six-Day War demanding an immediate cease-fire.[1] This call for a cease-fire was accepted by Israel and Syria between whom active fighting was still raging on the Golan Heights. The state of war may have technically continued to exist between Israel and Syria (as well as Egypt and Jordan), but there were definitely no further military operations between them, within the meaning of Article 6 of the Convention.

Article 6 distinguishes between two kinds of territory: 1) the territory of the parties to the conflict, and 2) occupied territory. In the case of the former, the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention ceases "on the general close of military operations". But in the case of the latter — "occupied territory" — the Convention continues to apply until one year after the close of military operations and even beyond that date if the Occupying Power exercises the functions of government in such territory.

Inasmuch as the Six-Day War was not fought, neither within the existing borders of the State of Israel, nor within the borders of Jordan on the east bank of the Jordan River — the only recognized borders of the country under international law, the Convention was no longer applicable to those specific areas after the cease-fire or cessation of hostilities, except for those provisions of the Convention "which shall be implemented in peacetime". The question of the further applicability of the Convention then turns on the question of whether Judea, Samaria and Gaza were "occupied territories" belonging to the Kingdom of Jordan and/or Egypt within the meaning of both Article 6 of the Convention and Article 42 of the Hague Regulations of 1907. These regulations constitute an annex to the Fourth Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land.

Article 42 of the Hague Regulations defines territory as being occupied when the territory of the Hostile State is actually placed under the authority of a Hostile Army. It is to be noted that the text of Article 42 refers only to "territory" in a general sense, but the heading[2] of Section III under which Article 42 appears — "Military Authority over Territory of the Hostile State" — makes it clear that the word "territory" can only be a reference to the "territory of the hostile state", as is also evident from Article 55 of that Section, which specifically mentions various immovable properties belonging to the "hostile state". Article 42 furthers lays down that "the occupation extends only to the territory [of the Hostile State] where such authority has been established and can be exercised."

At the conclusion of the Six-Day War, the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were indeed placed under the authority of a "Hostile Army", i.e., the Israel Defense Forces. However, these territories are not to be considered legally "under occupation", unless they actually belong to either Jordan or Egypt. It is a well-known fact that though Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria on April 24, 1950, thus rendering this region a de facto part of the Kingdom of Jordan (i.e., the so-called "West Bank"), this unilateral annexation was never recognized as valid under the prevailing norms of international law, inasmuch as Jordan was an aggressor state in the Israel-Arab War of 1948.[3] Thus Jordan never enjoyed sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, while Egypt never even claimed it over Gaza. Since neither Jordan nor Egypt (nor the fictitious "Palestinian People") were recognized sovereigns of these territories, they cannot be legally classified as "occupied". The only recognized sovereign over those territories under international law prior to the Six-Day War was the Jewish People as determined by several acts of international law. The first such act was the Smuts Resolution of January 30, 1919 (the precursor of Article 22 of the League Covenant), which in referring to the term "Palestine" must be interpreted in conjunction with the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, the Lloyd George-Clemenceau Agreement of December 1, 1918, and the Weizmann-Feisal Agreement of January 3, 1919. It is thus evident that "Palestine" is a reference to the Jewish People and not to the local Arab inhabitants of the country. The other acts of international law that confirm the Jewish legal title to Palestine are the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920, the Mandate for Palestine of July 24, 1922, the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 3, 1920 and the Anglo-American Convention Respecting the Mandate for Palestine of December 3, 1924. Since Israel, therefore, did not occupy the territory of a previous foreign sovereign, but only re-possessed the territory that the Principal Allied Powers of World War I had resolved was to be part and parcel of the Jewish National Home, as subsequently confirmed by the League of Nations, the Fourth Geneva Convention was not applicable to Israel's rule over Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Accordingly, it is absolutely false to assert that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are "occupied Palestinian territory", "occupied Arab territory" or simply "occupied territory" as claimed in many UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions as well as by the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League states, other governments and self-servingly, by the International Committee of the Red Cross.[4] Furthermore, when the Six-Day War broke out on June 5, 1967, there was no state in existence called "Palestine" whose territory could be considered "occupied" under international law, nor is there any such state even today, though if the Government of Israel continues to pursue the "two-state vision" of U.S. President George W. Bush, this state may yet emerge.

Despite the fact that Israel never occupied the sovereign territory of another Arab state or people, within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations, it has been falsely branded as an occupier of "Arab land". This accusation has no basis in law but has persisted because of the false belief that has been nurtured since 1969 by the United Nations and the Arab States as well as the PLO, that Israel has conquered the national homeland of another people, the "Palestinians" who inhabit the non-existent state of "Palestine". To dispel these falsehoods, it need only be remembered that Mandated Palestine was created in April, 1920 at the San Remo Peace Conference for the express purpose of the future independent state of the Jewish People, not for an imaginary people called "Palestinians", whose existence as a separate nation was unknown during the whole period of the Mandate, especially to the Arabs themselves. Since Palestine was intended to be the Jewish National Home, the State of Israel, which inherited the national rights of the Jewish People to the country, can never be seen as the occupier of land that was specifically reserved for Jews and rightfully belongs, as a result, to Israel. It is only by ignoring these indisputable facts that the cry is incessantly raised that the "occupation" must end. Sadly, Israel itself was in large measure responsible for allowing this false conception to take root, when during the Six-Day War it made the fateful decision to apply the laws of war to the liberated Jewish territories rather than the corpus of its own law, thus failing to incorporate those territories into the Jewish State. This convinced world public opinion, especially that of American and European leaders, that Israel is indeed an occupier of foreign lands. To rectify this terrible mistake, which also violated existing Israeli constitutional law, Israel should not only strongly contest the allegation of "occupation" as baseless, but also pass legislation affirming Israel's national rights to all areas of the Land of Israel and making it a criminal offense to describe its presence and status in any part of the land as "occupation".[5] This will then prevent Israel's Supreme Court and most academic jurists in Israel's institutions of higher learning from further spreading this insidious libel, as they have incredibly done up to now, to the acclaim of those who favour the re-partition of the Land of Israel.

Finally, it should be noted that the legal term "occupation", as defined in international law, refers only to the occupation by a hostile army of territory belonging to a state. It does not refer to the people living in "occupied territory", who as non-nationals of the Occupying Power enjoy the status of "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In reconquering areas of the Land of Israel in June 1967, what the Israeli Defense Forces really did was "repossessing" lands internationally recognized ever since 1920 as belonging to the Jewish People, as originally reflected by the Hebrew phrase for those lands: shtahim muhzakim ("held" areas). This stressed that it was land, rather than people, that was repossessed. It is therefore a gross misuse of the term "occupation" to refer to Israel's "occupation of the Palestinian People", even without considering the question of whether Israel is a true occupier of what is now mistakenly termed "Palestinian land", i.e., Judea, Samaria and Gaza. To give a parallel example, the United States may be said to be a military occupier of Iraq, ever since it overthrew the cruel regime of Saddam Hussein, but it cannot be said to "occupy the Iraqi people". Those who accuse Israel of "occupying Palestinians" are using false and illogical terminology that has no basis in any instrument of international law. This terminology represents an unwarranted and unauthorized change of meaning of the term "occupation", in that it wrongly conflates two non-synonymous categories. In actual fact, Israel neither occupies the land of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the alleged homeland of the so-called "Palestinians", nor does Israel "occupy" any nation of that name. Israel has a flawless legal right to govern all of the Land of Israel as well as all of its inhabitants, as the legitimate sovereign.

End Notes

[1] The three Security Council resolutions calling for a cessation of all military activities, all of which were adopted unanimously, were: 1) Resolution No. 233 of June 6, 1967; 2) Resolution No. 234 of June 7, 1967; 3) Resolution No. 235 of June 9, 1967.

[2] In interpreting the text of a treaty or of an annex to it such as the Hague Regulations, recourse may be had according to Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties to the context to be given to the terms of the treaty and also to the treaty's object and purpose. Based on this general rule of interpretation, the term "territory" as used in Article 42 of the Hague Regulations can only refer to the "territory of the hostile state" over which the army of the other state (i.e., the Occupying state) has assumed military authority.

[3] The principle of international law that applied to the situation was jus ex injuria non oritur [a right does not arise from a wrong]. Even the Council of the Arab League refused to recognize the Jordanian annexation of Judea and Samaria, and four states — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon — voted to expel Jordan for violating the League's anti-annexation resolution of April 13, 1950.

[4] The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) principally formulated the four 1949 Geneva Conventions that were approved at a Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of the Victims of War, held in Geneva from April 21 to August 12, 1949. The ICRC has a special position in the implementation of these Conventions, charged with providing relief and affording protection for members of armed forces who are wounded, sick or shipwrecked; prisoners of war; and civilian persons in time of war (see, for example, Articles 3(2), 63 and 142 of Geneva Convention IV). Under the erroneous assumption of the ICRC that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are indeed "occupied territories", the Government of Israel permits it to operate freely in these parts of the Land of Israel and the Jewish National Home. It is not without irony that the man who founded the International Red Cross, Jean Henri Dunant, a Swiss Protestant philanthropist, waged an unsuccessful campaign for the settlement of Jews in Palestine during the 1860s, even going so far as to establish an association for that very purpose. Herzl recognized Dunant's unique efforts to promote Jewish settlement by referring to him as a Christian Zionist in his closing speech at the First Zionist Congress in 1897 in the Swiss city of Basle.

[5] The Knesset on July 15, 2003 took an initial step in this direction when it passed, by a margin of 26 to 8, a resolution submitted by Gideon Sa'ar that read as follows: "...the Knesset affirms that the territories of Judea and Samaria are not occupied territories, either historically or from the standpoint of international law, and not according to the diplomatic accords signed by Israel...".

Howard Grief was born in Montreal, Canada and made aliyah in 1989. He served as a legal advisor to Professor Yuval Ne'eman at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure in matters of international law pertaining to the Land of Israel and Jewish rights thereto. He is a Jerusalem-based attorney and notary, as well as a specialist in Israeli constitutional law. In October 1993, he wrote the first of several articles denouncing the illegal agreements Israel made with the PLO that appeared in the pages of Nativ and elsewhere. He is the founder and director of the Office for Israeli Constitutional Law.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Friday, August 14, 2009

The forgotten oppression of Jews under Islam and in The Land of Israel. Part I


by Elliott A. Green


1st part of 2

Jews and Zionists are generally and deplorably unaware of conditions for Jews in the Land of Israel after the Arab Conquest [634-640 CE]. Many believe that Arab-Muslim rule was benign for the Jews, not merely compared with conditions in Christian lands. Further, many used to believe even a few decades ago that the conflict with the Arabs over the Land of Israel was strictly a matter of competing nationalisms. However, since the relatively unsuccessful 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York by jihad fanatics, the informed public in the West has become more aware of the powerful Muslim religious dimension in Arab politics.

This understanding has been reinforced by the Hamas' rise among Palestinian Arabs. The Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its charter is clearly a Judeophobic document, drawing on medieval Judeophobic Muslim sources. It is not merely anti-Israel. Article 7 of the Hamas charter repeats the medieval Muslim fable about the Jews at the End of Days, which I summarize:

At Judgement Day, the Muslims will fight the Jews who will hide behind rocks and trees. The rocks and trees will cry out: O Muslim, a Jew is hiding behind me. Come kill him.


This article aims to first sketch the status of non-Muslims — called dhimmis — in Islamic society, trying to define the nature of Muslim tolerance. Then we will cite an account by a medieval Jew of the Jews' condition in medieval Islamic society. We will also give a famous medieval Jew's opinion comparing the Jews' status in Islam with that in Christendom. Lastly, we will show that within the context of dhimmitude, of dhimmi status, which Jews shared with Christians and other non-Muslims, the Jews were in fact at the bottom of the social barrel, low man on Arab-Islamic society's totem pole, and in Jerusalem as elsewhere.

Books, articles and document collections by Bat Ye'or, Norman Stillman and others, have done much since the early 1970s to demonstrate the nature of the dhimmi status, the dhimma, for the intelligent reading public, and have highlighted the position of the Jews under Islam. In addition, recent decades have seen a broad stream of information about Islam become more available to the general educated public, although Muslim apologetics have flourished as well, perhaps even more so. Christians, Jews (including Samaritans), and Zoroastrians were subject to the dhimma in Middle Eastern countries, and this status was later extended to Hindus farther east.

Tolerated non-Muslims in lands conquered by Islam — dhimmis — were required to pay tribute, the jizya, either personally or through their religious-ethnic community. The grounds for this in Islamic law are found in the Quran [sura 9:29i]. The jizya can be considered a license to live for another year until the time comes for the next payment. Qur'an 9:29 and 2:61 also require that non-Muslims, specifically Jews and Christians, People of the Book, are to be "brought low," that is, humiliated. Islamic society developed and refined these rules of dhimma over the centuries. These regulations stipulated that dhimmis could not bear arms. Their garments must differ from Muslim garments. They had to always show respect and deference for Muslims, such as dismounting from their donkeys when encountering a Muslim on the road. A dhimmi's testimony in court was worth half of a Muslim's testimony. This list is incomplete and, of course, the body of rules varied somewhat with time and place. Further, when Muslim states were weak, not all of the rules could be enforced. For instance, dhimmi mountaineers could often ignore many of the humiliations as long as they stayed away from Muslim cities. It is significant that the dhimmis' status tended to worsen over time as their proportion of the population decreased.

Here's an illustration of one of the dhimma humiliations as viewed by the Danish traveler, Carsten Niebuhr (1761-1762):

In Cairo, no Christian and no Jew can show himself mounted on a horse. They only ride donkeys and must get off as soon as they encounter an Egyptian, even the least important. The Egyptians never go about except on a horse, preceded by an insolent servant who, armed with a big club, warns the man on the donkey to show the obligatory marks of respect for his master, by crying out: "Infidel, get off! . . ."[2]

'Niebuhr visited Egypt almost four decades before Napoleon, which is significant, because the late Edward Said argued that similar reports made after Napoleon's Egyptian expedition were invalid since they were tainted with imperialism.

Moshe Gil found accounts — in the Cairo Geniza documents — of Jews in Jerusalem being squeezed to collect the jizya and other taxes in the pre-Crusades period. Here's one:[3]

. . . and the living man was made a guarantor for the dead, and he who stayed — for the one who ran away; afterwards they had to pay an additional tax. And if you saw who paid all those moneys you would have been startled, and lamented over them and say of them: Could such a large 'onesh [here meaning an irregular punitive tax or exaction] have come from those poor people?

Jacob Barna'i found records of the Jerusalem Jewish community for the late 18th century revealing a startlingly similar situation to that before the Crusades found by Gil. Not only did Jews pay jizya to the Ottoman state but a series of unofficial fees, taxes, exactions and mandatory bribes to local Muslim notables and strong men.[4]

Now, contrary to what many Jews and other people have believed, conditions in Muslim lands were often worse for Jews than in Christendom. At least this was the opinion of the great Jewish philosopher, Maimonides (1135-1204), who fled Spain due to persecution by a fanatical Muslim sect and ended up as a Jewish leader in Egypt and physician to the famous Sultan Saladin. He wrote in his famous Letter to Yemen:[5]

[as punishment] God has hurled us into the midst of this people, the Arabs, who have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us... Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they.

Maimonides was in correspondence with far flung Jews, from Europe to India, and knew of the conditions in the various places. Here he means that Islamic society treated Jews worse as a rule than did Christian society. The next question is whether Jewish and Christian dhimmis were equal in their inferiority in Islamic society, and if not, which were in the superior position.

Moshe Sharon, a respected Israeli historian of Islam, argues that the fact that the Qur'an singled them [Jews] out as the enemies of the Muslims in many ways institutionalized their inferior status in comparison to the Christians.[6]

The 9th century Muslim writer al-Jahiz claimed: "...the hearts of the Muslims are hardened toward the Jews but inclined toward the Christians."[7] He pointed out that "in his time the Christians were both socially and economically better off than the Jews."[8] He explained this by the political resistance of the Jews of Medina to Muhammad. Carlo Panella concluded: "The Jews were in the last place on the social scale..." in Muslim society.[9]

The Italian historian of Islam, Francesco Gabrieli, wrote that

"the name 'Yahudi' [=Jew] acquired on Muslim lips the same odor of hostile scorn for the Jews that the term 'Jew' had in the Western world, more hostile and scornful than that of the epithet 'Nasrani' [= Christian]."[10] het 'Nasrani' [= Christian]."[10]

Like al-Jahiz, Gabrieli and Panella explain this by the Muslim memory of the Medina Jews' political resistance to Muhammad.

This Jewish social inferiority is confirmed not only by the medieval Baghdadi Arab al-Jahiz but by a Turk quoted by Bernard Lewis. This 19th century Turk referred to some Greek Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman Empire who regretted the Ottoman equalizing reforms of the mid-19th century. This shows that Ottoman Christians considered their status superior to that of the Jews.

"... whereas in former times, in the Ottoman state, the communities were ranked, with the Muslims first, then the Greeks [Greek Orthodox], then the Armenians, then the Jews, now all of them were put on the same level. Some Greeks objected to this, saying: "The government has put us together with the Jews. We were content with the supremacy of Islam."[11]

A British envoy confirmed this ranking. Dr John Bowring was in Lebanon and SyriaIsrael's neighborhood — in the 1830s, shortly before the first of these Ottoman reforms (1839). Muhammad Ali of Egypt, who had wrested rule over the Levant from the Ottoman state at that time, had already introduced greater equality between Muslims and dhimmis in his domains. Bowring noted:

The Mussulmans. . . deeply deplore the loss of that sort of superiority which they all & individually exercised over & against the other sects. . . a Mussulman. . . believes and maintains that a Christian — & still more a Jew — is an inferior being to himself.[12] [emph. added]

And although the Jews' situation did improve somewhat under Muhammad Ali's rule in the Levant,

The condition of the Jews forms, perhaps, an exception [to the general improvement of non-Muslims] & cannot be said to have improved comparatively with that of the other Sects[13]

The above quotes and authorities sufficiently demonstrate that in general the Jews were at the bottom of the barrel in Arab-Muslim society. It would logically follow that Jews were also at the bottom of the barrel in Jerusalem under Muslim rule. Nevertheless, this should and can be demonstrated by sources.

Towards the end of Mamluk rule — which lasted from the Mongol withdrawal in 1260 to the Ottoman conquest in 1517 — a monk named Francesco Suriano lived in the Franciscan monastery in Jerusalem for some twenty-five years on and off. For six years he was Custos Terrae Sanctae or Guardian of the Holy Land for his order. That is, he was the highest ranking Western Christian official in the Land of Israel, charged by the pope with overseeing Roman Catholic interests in the Christian holy places and Church affairs in the country, and with helping Catholic pilgrims. He did not like Muslims but he did appreciate how they treated Jews. He described how they treated Jews in Jerusalem as follows:

"I wish you to know how these dogs of Jews are trampled upon, beaten and ill-treated, as they deserve, by every infidel nation, and this is the just decree of God. They live in this country in such subjection that words cannot describe it. . . there in Jerusalem, where they committed the sin for which they are dispersed throughout the world [i.e., the Crucifixion], they are by God more punished and afflicted than in any other part of the world. And over a long time I have witnessed that . . . No infidel [= Muslim] would touch with his hand a Jew lest he be contaminated but when they wish to beat them, they take off their shoes with which they strike them on the mustaches; the greatest wrong and insult to a man is to call him a Jew. And it is a right notable thing that the Moslems do not accept a Jew into their creed unless he first become a Christian. . . And if they were not subsidised by the Jews of Christendom, the Jews who live in Judea would die like dogs of hunger."[14]

The Ottoman Empire seems to have improved the Jews' status in Jerusalem, although this was done against the resistance of local Muslims. Nevertheless, "The Jewish community... paid the jizya at rates somewhat higher than the [Greek] Orthodox."[15]

About 300 years after Suriano, Chateaubriand, the great French writer, found the Jews still on the bottom of the social barrel. He visited Jerusalem in 1806, and later wrote:


Nothing can prevent them from turning their gaze towards Zion. When one sees the Jews dispersed throughout the world,... one is probably surprised, but, to be struck by supernatural astonishment, it is necessary to find them in Jerusalem.. . to see these legitimate owners of Judea, slaves and strangers in their own land. One must see them under all oppressions, awaiting a king who is to redeem them.[16] [emph. added]

Yet, not all Christians living in Jerusalem were eager to hate Jews. Neophytos was a Greek Orthodox monk belonging to the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, which governed Orthodox church affairs in Jerusalem. A Cypriot native who lived in Jerusalem for many years, he showed a certain sympathy or pity for the Jews, not excessive to be sure. Neophytos had lived through persecution and threats against his own community during the Greek revolt against the empire, when the Greek Orthodox in Jerusalem paid large sums — including golden religious objects — to the local Muslim-Arab notables in order not to suffer massacre in revenge for the Greek rebellion of the 1820s. Describing Muhammad Ali's relative magnanimity towards the dhimmi communities after he had crushed an Ottoman-backed Muslim revolt against him in Israel (1834), Neophytos remarks that this magnanimity extended even to Jews. Under Ottoman rule, he points out, they dare not even ask permission to repair their synagogues:

"As we are on the question of repairs, we must say something about the Jewish Synagogue. One year ago only, seeing the liberal dispositions of Mehemet Ali Pasha [Muhammad Ali] and Ibrahim Pasha [his son, general, and deputy], they dared to speak about their Synagogue. They asked that their House of Prayer, being in a ruinous condition and in danger of falling in, might be repaired. So, those who did not even dare to change a tile on the roof of the Synagogue at one time, now received a permit and a decree to build."[17] [emph. added]

Neophytos' words: "those who did not even dare," imply the inferiority of the Jews even to the Christians. This shows the depth of Jewish degradation in the Jewish holy city of Jerusalem.

The next witness about the Jews' lowly status in the city is none other than Karl Marx, a surprise witness to be sure. In his report in the New York Daily Tribune (15 April 1854) on the origins of the Crimean War, Marx describes conditions in Jerusalem, where religious rivalries focussed on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher served the Powers as pretexts for the war:

"The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs, and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect, as they are in no way affected by the weakness of their Government at Constantinople. . . "Nothing equals the misery and the suffering of the Jews at Jerusalem, inhabiting the most filthy quarter of the town, called hareth-el-yahoud, in the quarter of dirt, between the Zion and the Moriah, where their synagogues are situated — the constant objects of Mussulman oppression and intolerance, insulted by the Greeks, persecuted by the Latins . . . "[18] [emph. added]

Note that Jews were humiliated by the Christians in the city, as well as by Muslims. To be sure, Marx was never in Jerusalem. His report of the date above is almost wholly quoted or paraphrased from a book by the French diplomat and historian, Cesar Famin. Famin may have visited Jerusalem, but if not, he was no doubt very well informed about conditions in the Holy City from fellow French diplomats, foreign ministry records, French churchmen, and travelers. He had been stationed in Yassi (Jassy), Rumania, then part of the Ottoman Empire, where he could get some idea of the status of Jews and Christians in an Islamic state. Famin's book, published in 1853, specified an absolute Jewish majority in Jerusalem's population, and Marx reproduced his population breakdown for the city.[19]

We will stop our examples with Gerardy Santine, a Frenchman who lived in Jerusalem for three years in the 1850s, and with Felix Bovet, a French-speaking Swiss Protestant minister who visited the city in 1858. Santine stressed the sense of fear and intimidation felt by the native Jews.

...the sons of Israel are here the object of the antipathy and disdain of the other communities... obsequious, excessively fearful... They excite rather than disarm the hostile sentiments of the Christians, happy to take revenge, by annoying them [the Jews], for their own voluntary degradation towards the Muslims... the Jews who take shelter under the flags of a European consul, those are almost men."[20]

Bovet wrote that "the Jews are still, to this day, the most miserable part of the population of the Holy City."[21] Bovet quotes a French convert to Islam, who wrote: "the Jerusalem Jew only half lives, scarcely daring to breathe."[22]

We have shown above 1) the state of oppression, humiliation, and economic exploitation, dhimmitude, of Jews and Christians in traditional Arab-Muslim society, 2) the Jews' worse status under Arab-Islam than elsewhere (according to Maimonides), and 3) the Jews' inferior status even to Christian dhimmis in Arab-Muslim society in general and in Jerusalem in particular.


Elliott A. Green

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.



The forgotten oppression of Jews under Islam and in The Land of Israel. Part II


by Elliott A. Green


2nd part of 2

This history is important because history does not go away. When there is a void in general knowledge of history in a situation of national conflict, one's enemies may fill the void with false history, inventing what suits them and their goals and interests. Hence, forgetting history is dangerous.

In this vein, a line stands out here from the anti-Israel tract of Profs. Walt and Mearsheimer, quoted approvingly by a leading British journalist, Max Hastings:

...while there is no question that the Jews were victims in Europe, they were often the victimisers, not the victims, in the Middle East, and their main victims were and continue to be the Palestinians.[23]

These authors moralize. They develop the themes of guilt and innocence. Yet it's hard to be sure which historical period Walt and Mearsheimer are referring to. Is it all of history or the present or some past time? The indefinite, the insinuation, and the evocative rather than the specific or explicit, are features of their prose. In another passage, however, they indicate that the Palestinian Arabs were innocent when Israel became a state.

A third moral justification [for Israel] is the history of Jewish suffering in the Christian West, especially ... the Holocaust... Jews suffered greatly from the despicable legacy of Anti-Semitism and... Israel's creation was an appropriate response to a long record of crimes... But... the creation of Israel involved additional crimes against a largely innocent third party: the Palestinians.[24]

Walt and Mearsheimer disarmingly admit that "the Christian West" made Jews suffer. But they implicitly exculpate the Arab-Muslim East generally — and Palestinian Arabs explicitly of harming Jews throughout history, perhaps insinuating that Jews were not even present in that part of the world till the 20th century. Yet we have shown above that traditional Arab-Muslim society oppressed, exploited, and humiliated Jews, in Israel as elsewhere. Therefore, are the authors justified in calling Palestinian Arabs "largely innocent" towards Jews after they entered the modern world in the mid-19th century?

From this time, the late Ottoman period saw improvement in the status of the dhimmis, largely thanks to intervention by European powers. This was so in Jerusalem more so than many places in the Empire. Nevertheless, World War I brought real fears that Jews in Israel might suffer the fate of the Armenians. In this context, the Balfour Declaration and international approval for its principles brought hope. However, Britain — that had protected Jews in the country in the late Ottoman period — betrayed its Mandate to foster the Jewish National Home, sometimes encouraging Arab pogroms on Jews. This started in 1920 in Jerusalem. It was followed by a series of Arab pogroms in 1921, 1929, 1936-39. The massacre and "ethnic cleansing" of the ancient Hebron community (68 Jews killed, hundreds expelled in August 1929) are remembered with special bitterness by Jews in Israel and abroad. These pogroms took place years before there was a state of Israel.

Likewise, before Israeli independence, Palestinian Arab representatives demanded in 1939 that the British end Jewish immigration into the country. This was on the very eve of the Holocaust when few countries were willing to allow more than token Jewish refugee immigration. The British fundamentally complied with this demand in the 1939 Palestine White Paper, thereby closing off even the internationally designated Jewish National Home to more than a token few Jewish immigrants. Subsequently, Arab nationalists, most notably Haj Amin el-Husseini, the chief Palestinian Arab leader, collaborated in the Holocaust more directly. Husseini was effective in preventing release of thousands of Jewish children and other Jews from the Nazi-fascist domain, having Jews sent instead to Poland, where, in his words, they would be "under active supervision," his euphemism for the death camps.[25]

It is obvious that when the UN General Assembly recommended a "two-state solution," that is, partition (29 November 1947), the Palestinian Arabs were hardly innocent in regard to the Jews. Nor were they innocent afterwards. Arabs under Husseini's leadership attacked and killed Jews throughout the country in response to the UN recommendation. While much has been heard since 1948 about Arab refugees, little has been heard about Jewish refugees in that war. The first refugees in the war who could not return to their homes after it were Jews who fled the Shim'on haTsadiq quarter (in what is now "East Jerusalem") near the end of December 1947. Indeed thousands of Jews throughout the country could not return home after the war. Moreover, Jordan and Egypt forbid Jews to live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. To be sure, Arab refugees eventually outnumbered these Jewish refugees. But Jewish refugees from Arab lands considerably outnumbered Arab refugees from Israel. From nearly a million in 1948, hardly more than a few thousand Jews remain in Arab states today. Arab League states expelled their Jewish populations according to a plan drawn up before the UN partition recommendation. So much for Arab or Palestinian Arab innocence before or after 1948.

Skipping over Arab provocations, wars, and terrorist attacks from the 1950s through the 1980s, we come to what many saw as a new beginning in relations, the 1993 Oslo Accords. Contrary to many expectations, signature of the accords was followed by increased terrorism, suicide bombings, drive by shootings, etc., in a wave of violence starting before Barukh Goldstein killed 29 Arabs in Hebron (February 1994). Handing over to the Palestinian Authority control of Arab West Bank cities in late 1995-early 1996, led to unprecedented slaughter of civilians in Israel. After Netanyahu became prime minister, Arafat lied about Israeli activities alongside the Temple Mount (September 1996), falsely claiming Israeli tunneling under the Mount, thus setting off a four-day miniwar that left scores dead on both sides. Ehud Barak became prime minister after Netanyahu, offering unprecedented concessions to the Palestinian Arab side. Rejecting this offer, Arafat started a wave of terrorism, still going on, that began before Ariel Sharon went up onto the Temple Mount, as if whatever Sharon had done could justify the mass murder bombings or the indoctrination of the Palestinian Authority population, particularly children, in a culture worshiping killing and being killed, imbued with zoological hatred of Jews, itself a violation of international law. Indeed, the deliberate use of children in combat is a war crime. Emblematic of the situation is the increase in lethal rockets fired at Israeli civilian towns and farming communities after the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza (2005) and before the partial blockade imposed when Hamas took over Gaza (2007).

Nevertheless, many today — like Walt, Mearsheimer, and Max Hastings too — wish to claim Arab and Palestinian Arab innocence. Now, the claim of Arab innocence was prominent in the 1940s and 1950s, although then the Palestinian Arabs were not called simply "Palestinians" as today, as if they were a people separate from other Arabs. In those days, the argument explicitly claimed that Arab-Muslim treatment of Jews was regularly benign, thus making Israel's alleged misdeeds in 1948 all the more repugnant. The argument was first used long ago. It was meant to urge particular policies towards Israel and the Arabs. It has always been instrumental, not factual, scientific, or historical. It depends on general public ignorance of the real history, in particular ignorance among Jews and Zionists.

The evidence presented above shows that throughout history, this claim has not only been false but is the very opposite of the truth. This false notion of history, of the relations of Jews and Arabs in Israel over the centuries, is widely held in academia, State Department circles, and the media. The way to dispel the falsehoods is knowledge of history, of the institution of the dhimma, of Jewish history, Arab and Muslim history, particularly the history of Jews in the Land of Israel, in all periods from ancient times through the Middle Ages to early modern times and recent times, up to the latest Qassam rocket that landed on the town of Sderot. Ignorance of history can be considered an obstacle to Israel-Arab peace.



1. Verse numbers vary in some editions.

2. Carsten Niebuhr, Travels through Arabia and Other Countries in the East, vol. I (Edinburgh 1792), pp 81-82, quoted by Yahudiya Masriya [= Bat Ye'or], Les Juifs en Egypte (Geneva: Editions de l'Avenir, 1971), pp 29-30.

3. Moshe Gil, "The Authorities and the Local Population," in The History of Jerusalem: the Early Muslim Period, 638- 1099, editors Joshua Prawer and Haggai Ben-Shammai.(Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi: New York: New York University Press, 1996), p 106. Translation slightly modified by EAG.

4. Jacob Barnai, "The Jerusalem Jewish Community, Ottoman Authorities, and Arab Population in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century," Jewish Political Studies Review 6:3-4 (Fall 1994).

5. Maimonides, "Epistle to Yemen," in David Hartman, ed., Crisis and Leadership: Epistles of Maimonides (tr. A Halkin; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society 1985), p 126.

6. Moshe Sharon, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Jerusalem: Sacks Publishing House 1989), p 89.

7. Quoted in Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton 1984), pp 59-60.

8. Words of Moshe Sharon, op. cit., p 94; also see Carlo Panella, Il 'Complotto Ebraico' — L'antisemitismo islamico da Maometto a Bin Laden (Torino: Lindau 2005), p 89

9. Panella, op. cit, p 31.

10.Quoted in Leon Poliakov, De Mahomet aux Marranes, II (Paris: Calmann-Levy 1961), p 72; and in Panella, op cit, p 157, n. 9.

11. Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? (London: Orion House 2002), p 104.

12. Quoted in William R Polk, The Opening of South Lebanon, 1788-1840 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1963), p 138. Other 19th century Western observers noted the same Arab-Muslim Judeophobia, as quoted by Saul S Friedman, Land of Dust (Washington, DC: University Press of America 1982), p 136.

13. Polk, op. cit., p 138.

14. Francesco Suriano, Treatise on the Holy Land (Jerusalem: Franciscan Press, 1949) [in original: Trattato di Terra Santa e dell'Oriente], pp 101-02. For a scholarly view of the Jews in Jerusalem in the late Mamluk period, when Suriano lived there, see Avraham David in "The Mamluk Period" in Israel: People, Land, State (Avigdor Shinan, ed.: Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 2005).

15. Amnon Cohen, "On the Realities of the Millet System: Jerusalem in the 16th century," in B Braude and B Lewis, Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire (New York: Holmes & Meier 1982), p 14.

16. Chateaubriand, Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem (Paris: Juilliard 1964), pp 426-427.

17. Neophytos, Extracts from Annals of Palestine 1821-1841 (Jerusalem, Ariel Publishing House, 1979; compiled by Eli Schiller), p 78. Originally published in Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, vol. XVIII (1938; tr S N Spyridon).

18. See Marx in Shlomo Avineri, ed., Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization (New York: Doubleday, 1969), pp 150-151; translated and paraphrased from Cesar Famin, L'Histoire de la rivalite et du protectorat des Eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris: Firmin Didot freres, 1853). pp 50, 54

19. Re the Jewish population majority, see Famin op. cit., pp 49, 51. Famin's main themes in the book have nothing to do with Jews. He endeavors to prove Roman Catholic primacy over the Christian holy places in Jerusalem as against the Orthodox church, as well as France's right and duty to defend that primacy.

20. Gerardy Santine, Trois ans en Judée (Paris: Hachette 1860), p 189.

21. Felix Bovet, Egypt, Palestine, and Phoenicia (Eng. trans; London: 1872), p 180

22. Ibid., p 181.

23. Quoted by Max Hastings in the London Sunday Times, 2 Sept 2007. We have not dealt with the role of Arabs, particularly the Palestinian Arab leadership, in the Holocaust (Haj Amin el-Husseini, first of all).

24. John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux 2007), p 92. The chief leader of the Palestinian Arabs at the time, Haj Amin el-Husseini, collaborated in the Holocaust. He spent most of the war years in the Nazi-fascist domain. He is not mentioned in the book's index.

25.  Elliott A Green, "Arabs and Nazis, Can It Be True?," Midstream (October 1994).

Elliott A. Green is a researcher, writer and translator, living in Jerusalem. His writings have appeared in Midstream [New York], Nativ, the Jerusalem Post [Israel], and other publications. He was assistant editor of Crossroads, a discontinued social sciences quarterly published in Jerusalem.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Israel's Self-Inflicted Woes.


by Daniel Mandel

When foreign pressure mounts on Israel, Israelis, still an embattled people, tend rightly to criticize those applying the pressure. Yet they often neglect their own role in stimulating a climate of foreign pressure.

The Oslo process greatly augmented this ruinous pattern.

Today, Israel is under pressure from the Obama administration to freeze all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and to proceed with the creation of a Palestinian state. Most ominously, the auguries are that the US will do little to nothing to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons if Israel doesn't cooperate with dictates such as these.

Such pressure, misguided and hostile as it is, has its origin in Israel's own errors. In return for having legitimized Yasser Arafat and his Fatah movement in 1993, logic and prudence dictated that Israel obtain strict Palestinian adherence to the Oslo agreements, protest violations as these occurred, and even break off negotiations if compliance was not forthcoming.

YET BIG gambles often lead to further gambles and matters proceeded very differently. Although the late Yitzhak Rabin spoke of rolling back the Palestinian Authority if it violated the trust Israel had placed in it, this proved an empty resolution. Once Oslo had been signed, Israeli governments preferred not to notice the fact that the PA was building up terrorist militias and radicalizing the Palestinian public for jihad. Merely to point this out was to earn official umbrage as an opponent of peace.

The truth, of course, was diametrically opposite: The only possibility of peace lay with the Palestinians fulfilling their agreements, not ignoring their violations of them. 

Supporters of Oslo often contended that it would improve Israel's standing in the world. The opposite has been true. Even before Oslo's collapse in 2000, Western governments ended up accepting the logic implicit in dealing with the Arafat-controlled PA: that the Palestinians must be seeking just ends like statehood alongside Israel, not Israel's elimination, and that concessions from Israel were therefore the key to peace.

As a result, rather than ostracizing the PA in 2000 for its resort to a war after it rebuffed president Bill Clinton's peace proposals, much of the world merely concluded that Israel had not offered enough. Anti-Israel boycotts and divestment campaigns became commonplace, especially at universities raising tomorrow's leaders. Anti-Semitic activity in Europe has risen steeply since 1993, according to all statistical data.

Ariel Sharon was elected in 2001 after Oslo had foundered in bloodshed and produced a new Palestinian terror wave. He spoke frequently of the PA as not warranting Israeli concessions due to its continued promotion of terrorism and incitement.

Yet he too ended up recommencing talks with Mahmoud Abbas and agreeing to the 2003 road map, without the PA having done anything to justify those huge steps.

Previously, Palestinian compliance had been theoretically necessary, but practically ignored: Each new agreement simply reiterated Palestinians obligations that had been dishonored since the last signing ceremony.

Now, the road map discarded even the need for the appearance of compliance. It called for major Israeli concessions in advance of Palestinian compliance with past agreements.

Israel accepted the road map with 14 reservations relating, among other things, to unfulfilled Palestinian obligations, but the US never seriously took note of these. Again, the conclusion was drawn: If Israel was prepared to negotiate with the PA, it should make further concessions. In other words, continued negotiations undercut Israel's ability to insist on Palestinian compliance.

PEACE NOW pioneer Amos Oz had once prophesied that Oslo would make Israel justifiably tough on all Palestinian violations. This too was a delusion: PA atlases and textbooks continue to pretend that Israel doesn't exist, and Fatah's constitution remains unchanged in its call for Israel's destruction and the use of terrorism. Terrorists like George Habash and Samir Kuntar were personally lauded by Abbas; and terror acts like the slaughter of eight students in a Jerusalem seminary in March 2008 were considered acts of martyrdom, the perpetrators praised in Abbas's publications.

The result of ignoring Palestinian malfeasance has been that today, the unreconstructed PA continues to get handouts from the international community (more than $900 million this year from the US alone), while Israel comes under relentless pressure to make concessions in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Palestinians regard this as happy division of labor: Recently, Abbas told The Washington Post that "I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements... Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality... the people are living a normal life." That much of the world, including the Obama administration, ignores Palestinian incitement, terror and rejection of Israel while blaming Jews living in the West Bank and Jerusalem as the cause of the impasse was not inevitable. Oslo - which no one imposed on Israel - paved the way.

Daniel Mandel
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.