Nothing new

Sir, – International Committee of the Red Cross representative Anton Camen brings absolutely nothing new in his settlement critique (“Why the law prohibits settlement activities,” Comment & Features, May 27).

The Fourth Geneva Convention does not exist in a vacuum. It does not supersede, cancel, annul, replace or otherwise revoke existing international treaties and instruments of international law recognizing pre-existing historical rights, establishing or conferring political rights (including the right to settle), or recognizing, conferring or intending to confer sovereignty.

Israel’s right to settle anywhere within Palestine was established in international law the moment the League of Nations voted with a wide margin of support in favor of the Palestine Mandate Declaration in 1922 for the purpose of creating a Jewish national home. That right to “close settlement” (read: intensive) of the Jews in the remaining approximately 20 per cent of Palestine west of the Jordan River has never been annulled. Note: Those settlement rights apply equally to Gaza, Samaria and Judea, all within the 20%.

The United Nations confirmed that right. It confirmed the Palestine Mandate and other such trusteeships in its founding charter (Article 80, the so-called Palestine Clause). Article 80 has not been revoked. Ironically, every member of the UN must subscribe to the Charter and, knowingly or unknowingly, support Jewish settlement.

The disappearance of the League of Nations and the abandonment by Great Britain of its mandate responsibilities does not alter the validity of any treaties or other international legal decisions the League of Nations made.

Camen tries to patch his shaky case by dropping the names of legal experts. I can just as easily drop names, too: Douglas Feith, Howard Grief, Ruth Lapidoth, Eugene Rostow, Stephen Schwebel and Julius Stone, to name a few.

GABE GOLDBERG
Jerusalem

Sir, – The fact Anton Camen ignores entirely is that one cannot occupy what already is one’s own.

Thus, it does not depend on any reading or misreading of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Now, if Camen were right, he might like to explain why the settlement activity that Turkey continues to conduct in relation to undoubtedly occupied Northern Cyprus, where it encourages/facilitates Turkish citizens to resettle, is not in breach of the Geneva Convention, or if it is, why no action is taken in relation thereto.

PETER SCHWEITZER
Tel Aviv


J Street’s loss

Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef (“The crisis in Israel-American Jewry relations,” Think About It, May 26) complains that J Street was not accepted for membership by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

She insidiously implies that the vote was somehow controlled by the inclinations of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. She also makes the unsubstantiated claim that the rejection “does not represent what a majority of American Jews feels,” but fails to mention that J Street’s application was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the conference’s membership, all of which are American organizations.

The correctness and wisdom of the decision unfortunately escapes Ms. Rolef, who fails to appreciate the difference between the expression of variant views and their translation into deeds, like the encouragement of BDS activities or the lobbying of Congress against increasing sanctions on Iran. You cannot be “pro-Israel” and at the same time support programs that are clearly injurious to its well-being and security.

Much of her concerns would disappear rather quickly if Israel were to receive millions of American olim, who could then participate in totally free and democratic elections and thus influence change in the direction that suits her.

ZEV CHAMUDOT
Petah Tikva

Sir, – Susan Hattis Rolef predicts that we are going to lose the support of Reform and Conservative Judaism, which is crucial to Israel.

The fact is, neither of those movements has any future in America.

Statistics and demographics bear this out.

Evidently, she doesn’t have very much confidence in the State of Israel and its people to take care of their own.

MATTIAS ROTENBERG
Petah Tikva


Unshared views

Sir, – As an office bearer in the Church of Scotland and a life-long supporter of the State of Israel, I wish everyone to know that not everybody agrees with the document “The Inheritance of Abraham: A Report on the Promised Land” (“UK chief rabbi: Scottish Church’s stance on Israel ‘harmful, hateful,’” May 25).

Just as Israelis have the freedom to criticize, so I take that privilege.

As an Israeli citizen (temporary resident), I know that my personal views do not represent those of this committee of the Church of Scotland, and it certainly does not represent mine! I do not approve of picking and choosing which biblical promises to validate according to modern political views.

HEATHER DOBSON
Jerusalem


Papal visit

Sir, – In response to “When the pope goes to Jewry’s holiest site” (Reporter’s Notebook, May 27), too many in the media wrongly refer to the Western Wall as Judaism’s holiest site. It is not.

The only place on Earth considered holy by Judaism is the site where the temples stood.

They are considered to have been God’s temporal home, as it were. All other Jewish sites are simply ancient synagogues or tombs. The Western Wall is revered solely for its proximity to the Temple Mount, with no inherent holiness in and of itself.

This is not pedantry. The use of inaccurate language like this validates Muslim/Arab claims to exclusive authority over the Temple Mount, supporting the denials by Arafat and others that the temples actually existed there. It also reinforces a view that Jewish advocacy of interests or rights to pray there is somehow “extremist.” I say this as a political moderate, not as a “Temple Mount activist.”

Whether one is religiously observant or not, and whether we choose to pray or build there or not, the Temple Mount is the heart and symbol of the very foundation of Zionism.

ARYEH GREEN
Jerusalem


Sir, – In “The papal message” (Editorial, May 27), you state that Pope Francis made an unplanned visit to a memorial to Israeli terror victims in an attempt to balance his visit to the security barrier. As you mentioned in your lead news item that day (“Pope Francis tells Netanyahu: I pray for all the victims of terrorism”), it was actually Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who took him there to show him exactly why we needed to build the security barrier.

In “Despite lengthy wait in Manger Square, Pope touches hearts of thousands of Christian Palestinians who turn out in Bethlehem” (May 26), you reported that while the pontiff led the Mass there, the Islamic call for prayer went out from a neighboring mosque. You also quoted bystander Shiran Nasro as saying, “It’s nice to see the two prayers going on together, signifying that Christians and Muslims are united as Palestinians.”

What you neglected to report was that it was actually a provocation by the Muslims, who made the muezzin’s call to prayer louder and louder until Christians at the Mass started shouting and whistling to drown it out.

NANCY CHERNOFSKY
Jerusalem


CORRECTION

Unlike what was reported in “Francis beseeches Grand Mufti to disavow Temple Mount strife” (May 27), Pope Francis “removed his shoes prior to entering” the Dome of the Rock, and not the Aksa Mosque. In addition, it is the Dome of the Rock, and not al-Aksa, that is viewed as standing on the spot where the First Temple and Second Temple stood.

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