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 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: 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 there.
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’ attention.
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.”
Perhaps Chaim 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.
Famed legal 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 created.”
Ms. Rolef, to those of your generation who still think San Remo was but a song contest, please pass the word.MICHAEL GOTTLIEB Ginot Shomron
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 law.
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 entirely.
Most people when they are not fully conversant in such a subject keep their mouths shut rather than shoot their own goals in the foot.
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 report.”
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 illegal.
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 state.EDMUND JONAH Rishon Lezion
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.