Friday, April 6, 2007

1980 - More Squatters, More Violence and an Ad in the The New York Times

In the footnote to the 1980 Hertz Edition of the Torah under Deuteronomy 16:20 "Justice, justice shall you pursue" appears the following " (T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of each and every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.
My wife, Joan, and I had helped form a Havurah in 1971 with six other families. For the next 15 years we met monthly and created services for Jewish celebrations including two group bar/t mitzvahs. The catalyst in forming the group was an extraordinary individual, Rabbi Everett Gendler, a pacifist. He along with his wife, Mary, one of the earliest Jewish feminists, and their children, Tamar and Naomi, joined our havurah. With Everett's guidance, I began to become aware of the applicability of Jewish values to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

I still have a copy of an article by David Horowitz in October 1974 in Ramparts Magazine entitled "The Passion of the Jews". In it on page 27, I read, "Thus, while the state of Israel is the embodied national idea of a people who for two thousand years were without a land and a state, in the interets of Jewish "survival', Israel's leaders continue to deny in principle the very existence of the people they have displaced, and to thwart their claims to land and statehood. 'It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them,' explained Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969, 'they did not exist.' .... The Palestinians, in the view of Israel's Foreign Office, 'are not a party to the conflict between Israel and the Arab states,' and 'have no role to play' in any peace settlement. Denied a legitimate voice, weak, disorganized, living in refugee camps and under Israeli military rule, the Palestinians have responded with acts of terror as a cruel but therefore unevadable statement: We exist."

In 1980 I was solicited for, and signed, an ad which appeared in the New York Times on Sunday, June 22, entitled "End Middle East Bloodshed which said, in part, "We condemn the shootings that killed six young Jews in Hebron... We deplore the continued destructive acts of some Palestinian groups including factions of the PLO and of some Israeli groups including some of the right wing factions, Kach and Gush Emunim .. We profoundly regret the unwillingness of the leadership of the PLO to deplore and curtail the provocative acts undertaken by Palestinians... We are deeply saddened by the failure of the leadership of the Government of Israel to End Its Settlement Policy and to restrain Jews from hostile actions in the territories."

When Israel was admitted to the United Nations in 1949, it signed the UN Charter which included a renunciation of the acquisition of territory by force. Another condition of its admission was UN General Assembly Resolution 181 and 194 of 1949 authorizing two states and the right of return of refugees. Eighteen years later, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242 of 1967 saying that the UN Charter required Israel to withdraw its forces from occupied territories and a termination of the state of belligerence and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

Recall that there were then, in 1980, 53 settlements in the West Bank with a population of about 12,500 squatters. By this time, I found it more and more difficult to reconcile this slow but steady stream of Jewish squatters into the occupied territories and the resulting hostilities engendered by their construction of settlements on the backs of the Palestinians living with my long held belief in the Jewish passion for compassion, fairness and justice.
Would that be the end of the illegal transfers of Jewish individuals into the occupied territory, an act which would likely reduce the tension in the West Bank? Would the Israeli Government recognize and comply with international law and act consistent with Jewish values?

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