Regarding “Amona’s last stand?” (Frontlines, December 9), the whole business of the bill now proposed in the Knesset to legalize 4,000 settlement homes, and the separate issue of the Amona homes, confuses me.
I thought that originally, the Israeli government supported the establishment of Amona, and the fact that it was on Palestinian land was not known. Then I read that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit had “cautioned that the bill is unconstitutional, violating both Israeli and international law. It runs counter to 40 years of High Court of Justice rulings forbidding settlement construction on private Palestinian property.”
International law concerns actions between states, not laws within sovereign states. (And I didn’t know that Israel has a constitution.) The same court that forbids building can allow it, no? Private property is not inviolate.
There is such a thing as eminent domain. In the US, a community seized the private property of an auto dealership and gave it to a motel builder. The Supreme Court upheld the action. Of course, the justices did not have to be politically correct or consider what some other country might think. They did what they thought was best for the community.
The High Court of Justice’s 40 years of rulings are not part of the Ten Commandments. They might be the product of a left-leaning judiciary and part of a failed past.PHILIP BRIEFF
The currently ubiquitous phrase “private Palestinian property” in your newspaper might be a holdover from the pre-state British Mandate period regarding disputed/occupied territory. But those days are gone forever.
“Private Palestinian property” mistakenly seems to apply to the entirety of the historic Judean/ Israelite Jewish kingdoms that contain identifiable ruins of entire cities, cemeteries, walls, temples, coins, written inscriptions, fragments, legal documents, land-holding laws and national governing rules. These are referred to in detail in much more than the Bible, histories of Josephus and others – they are referred to in the boastful lists of conquerers and in extensive literary sources, for starters.
Since some areas are now sub judice, it is questionable why the above-mentioned phrase seems to appear in your newspaper despite all the evident facts on the ground, legends, stories, testaments, songs and, of course, traditional prayers and Psalms of actual identifiable locations to the contrary. Look up “Jerusalem.”ESTER ZEITLIN
Jeff Barak ought to have his reality checked (“The settler tail wagging the dog,” Reality Check, December 5). Anyone should know that the concept of private Palestinian land is a misnomer.
The concept relates to a unilateral decision made by the Israeli government regarding land Israel won from Jordan in the 1967 War. It is most certainly not land stolen from any particular Palestinian.
Before it can be used, it goes through an exhaustive notification process in which any possible owner can make his claim known.
Barak also knows that without a left-leaning Supreme Court and a bunch of leftist NGOs, spurious Palestinian claims would have never been advanced. The simple issue that no taxes have ever been paid on any of this land would mean it reverts to ownership by the State of Israel under applicable law.
So why the constant harping about “private Palestinian land”? Could it be because Barak is a serial hater of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the settlers, or does he really think that siding against Amona will bring peace? MICHAEL ABRAMOWITZ
Likud MK Bennie Begin is a statesman who stood up for his principles in opposing the settlement law. He stood up to be counted. I give him the highest rating.LIONEL BURNLEY
JerusalemWhere we’ve been
With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian malaise, Yaakov Katz, editor- in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, queries: “Where are we going?” (Editor’s Notes, December 9).
Perhaps the initial question to be posed is: Where have we been? Succinctly put, the problem lies in the failure to note the correct facts and the controlling international law now extant.
First, it is absolutely imperative to acknowledge that a “Palestinian people” as such does not exist. The term was a concoction of the grand mufti of Jerusalem in 1920 to challenge the Zionist presence in Israel, and was later propagated by Yasser Arafat and others to challenge Israel’s existence.
Period. Even respected Arab writers of the 1960s rejected this terminology.
Second, as clearly and unequivocally demonstrated by the late Howard Grief, a Jerusalem attorney, the United Nations never possessed the authority to partition Palestine in 1947; therefore, Israel is not an occupier of the so-called West Bank, but is the legal sovereign. As such, the so-called Palestinians, more correctly called Arabs, have no legal entitlement to a state carved out of Jewish territory.
The answer to where we have been requires a journey back in time to examine international law that is still as effective and controlling today as it was when written in the 1920s, notwithstanding the UN’s malicious attempt to evade it.ARTHUR S. SAFIR
The writer is a former deputy attorney-general of the State of New Jersey.Matter of loyalty
You write in “Rabbis and reform” (Editorial December 9) that converts take a “pledge of loyalty to the Jewish people.”
They do not. They take a pledge of loyalty to the God of Israel and the Torah covenant, an obligation far greater than mere loyalty to the Jewish nation.EDWARD L. TEPPER
Discipline and respect
Writing as a vice dean of a university, a father of three and a grandfather of five, I wish to state that Ilan Evyatar is right in highlighting the issue of attracting good teachers by improving their own education and selection (“An urgent need for reform,” Observations, December 9). There is, however, the danger of disparaging the many excellent teachers we already have, demoralizing them and thus aggravating the problem.
Although improving the educational levels of new teachers might be desirable, an expert with a degree doesn’t necessarily make a skilled and enthusiastic teacher. I am not at all convinced that research universities can do a better job than teaching-centered colleges.
Apart from high salaries and better conditions, the prestige of the profession needs to be transformed by giving teachers back their status.
Today, teachers are too often the punching bags in a blackboard jungle, the targets of spoiled and undisciplined brats, violent parents and an unsupportive bureaucracy.
Evyatar is right that money isn’t enough (although vital); quality is the key, and it will never be achieved in the current neo-liberal atmosphere of a “democratic” education and the free-for-all, anything- goes behavior in schools.
Although very unpolitically correct, I am convinced that discipline and respect must be brought back before real progress will be made. I would start with strict dress codes, a ban on smartphones in class (unless part of the lesson) and rigidly enforced behavioral rules. Do-gooder parents (many themselves the products of low-quality education) should be given term reports but kept out of decision-making and disciplinary matters.
Above all, schools must be given back the legal authority to enforce their rules and punish offenders effectively. Perhaps then, teachers will be able to teach, and pupils will be able to get down to the business of effective study instead of running riot and learning to fail.ANTHONY LUDER