October 24: A closer look at Israel’s history
Ms. Rolef reasons that because the historic San Remo Conference of 1920 is not widely known, understood or appreciated by the younger generation, that it is somehow irrelevant.
Letters Photo: REUTERS/Handout
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef professes to have been “especially perplexed” by
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s statement that the 1920 San Remo Conference
“had recognized the right of the Jews to settle in all parts of Eretz Yisrael
(or Palestine, as it was referred to)” (“Will Netanyahu change the status of the
settlements?” Think About It, October 22).
Quoting from the protocol of
that conference, Ms. Rolef seeks to show that no such right is mentioned
Moreover, she maintains, none of the many other international
declarations and resolutions published since then on this subject have
recognized our right to settle everywhere in Palestine or established any sort
of legal justification for the Edmund Levy report.
It appears, then, that
Ms. Rolef has overlooked one very important – and very germane –
document, which I would like to bring to her and your readers’
I refer to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine adopted
in 1922, which is an outgrowth of the San Remo Conference. Article 6 of the
Mandate document states: “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that
the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced,
shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall
encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency referred to in Article 4, close
settlement of Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not
required for public purposes.”
Sir, – Susan Hattis
Rolef reasons that because the historic San Remo Conference of 1920, a key
source of international legal rights for unrestricted Jewish settlement in
Western Palestine, is not widely known, understood or appreciated by the younger
generation, that it is somehow irrelevant.
Chaim Weizmann, then-leader of
the Zionist movement, apparently thought otherwise.
At the time, he
opined “The San Remo decision... is the most momentous political event in the
whole history of our [Zionist] movement, and, it is perhaps no exaggeration to
say, in the whole history of our people since the exiles.”
knew something that Susan hasn’t yet learned.
The 1922 Mandate for
Palestine was a direct result of San Remo. It became the foundational document
for the State of Israel, and thanks to Article 80 of the UN Charter, has not
been superseded; it remains in force to this very day.
scholar Eugene Rostow summed it up nicely: “The Jewish right of settlement in
the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the Mandate under which
Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was
Ms. Rolef, to those of your generation who still think San Remo
was but a song contest, please pass the word.
Sir, – Far from Education Minister Sa’ar getting an F in history as
Susan Hattis Rolef suggests, it is she who gets one herself both in history and
She herself admits that the San Remo declaration of 1920, which
reinforced/confirmed the Balfour Declaration of 1917 regarding Jewish
entitlement to live anywhere in Mandate Palestine, which she believes that just
because she never knew of it means only a few historians did, did not mention
the national Rights of non-Jews.
How a lawmaker can be so ignorant of the
system of law that she is supposed to be in charge of making defeats me
Most people when they are not fully conversant in such a
subject keep their mouths shut rather than shoot their own goals in the
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef has the gall to
dismiss the San Remo decisions that placed the whole of Palestine as a national
home for the Jewish people.
She then continues with the vague statement:
“However, in the meantime there have been many other international declarations
and resolutions that have dealt with the national rights of the Palestinians,
and none of which recognized our right to settle everywhere in Palestine, or
established and sort of legal justification for the Edmund Levy
To what declarations and resolutions is she referring? Does
anyone know of lawful declarations? I am unaware of any declarations except from
those who know little about international law and who persist in calling Judea
and Samaria “occupied territories” and insisting our settlements are
As for resolutions, I presume she means the UN resolutions,
accepted by Israel and rejected by the Arabs who chose wars and intifadas rather
than making peace with the Jewish state.
Jordan never had any right to
the “West Bank,” lost it in the Six Day War and subsequently renounced any claim
to it. This meant it reverted to Jewish territory as there were no claims before
1967 for a Palestinian state to be founded on that land. Since then, we have
accepted the idea of a two-state solution which the Arabs still reject and still
refuse to discuss with us. All that we hear today is that Israel was established
illegally and the whole of Palestine belongs to them.
Would Susan H.
Rolef like to bow to that declaration and have us all move out of Israel? It is
about time we told the so-called Palestinians that the time has come to reach an
agreement or we will annex all the territory, which would be well within our
rights. If they don’t like it, they can go to Jordan, which is their rightful
Sir, – In her column, Susan Hattis
Rolef conveniently omits Article 6 of the 1920 San Remo Conference which states
that the Mandatory administration “shall encourage, in cooperation with the
Jewish Agency, close settlement by Jews on the land, including state and waste
lands not required for public purposes.”
That is exactly what is involved
in the present settlement of Judea and Samaria.
Hattis Rolef also infers
that Edmund Levy – a reputable High Court judge – as well as the minority of
internationally recognized jurists who do support the legality of the socalled
settlements do not have her legal expertise.
Zionism too was condemned by
a majority vote as a racist and unacceptable ideology. It is certainly as
legitimate to support the Levy Report as to reject them and to suspect that
there are subjective ideological motives behind both views.
Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef’s comment leaves one to conclude that she
wrote her gaggle of non sequiturs solely to obfuscate.
The Levy Report is
a legal document from respected contributors that again illuminates the history
that establishes fundamental facts on the ground.
It describes a reality.
It is not a detached entity. Rolef seems to insist that the Levy Report be
viewed as an abstraction, a disconnected maneuver that must be politically
negotiated if it is to be afforded any legitimacy.
Rolef states that what
perplexes her the most is that the media’s main argument is the “urgent need to
normalize the lives of the settlers.”
What could possibly be at all
perplexing about such a conclusion? She continues a if fact that “this is not
something Israel can do unilaterally...”
That truly is perplexing. Since
when does a sovereign nation with established ownership of land even before it
reconquered it from an aggressor which had illegitimately occupied it need any
outside permission to live there? Rolef perplexes me.