Pro Israel Advocates Should Stop Using “Judea and Samaria”

In the narrative war in the Israeli-Arab conflict, pro-Israel advocates often use the term “Judea and Samaria” instead of the commonly used “West Bank” in an effort to show that Jews lived in the land far longer than Arabs, and that Arabs are actually occupying Jewish land. While the rationale has merit, the approach does not.

Judea and Samaria

The Children of Israel came back to Canaan in the 12th century BCE. The land was allotted to the twelve tribes, in a division that was mostly stable for about 300 years.

Jan Jansson’s holy land map, 1630, which shows the migration of the Israelites from Egypt to the holy land, and the location of the twelve tribes.

After the death of King Solomon in 931BCE, the Jewish people split their kingdom under two rulers, creating the southern kingdom of Judah and northern kingdom of Israel. Sometimes fighting together against external foes and sometimes fighting internally, the kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians between 734 and 712 BCE from the Assyrian campaigns of Tiglath-Pileser III, Shalmaneser V and Sargon II. Sargon II swapped the population of the Jews and his kingdom in Babylon as told in 2 Kings 17:

בִּשְׁנַ֨ת הַתְּשִׁעִ֜ית לְהוֹשֵׁ֗עַ לָכַ֤ד מֶֽלֶךְ־אַשּׁוּר֙ אֶת־שֹׁ֣מְר֔וֹן וַיֶּ֥גֶל אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אַשּׁ֑וּרָה וַיֹּ֨שֶׁב אוֹתָ֜ם בַּחְלַ֧ח וּבְחָב֛וֹר נְהַ֥ר גּוֹזָ֖ן וְעָרֵ֥י מָדָֽי׃ {פ}
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, at the [River] Habor, at the River Gozan, and in the towns of Media. (2 Kings 17:6)

וַיִּתְאַנַּ֨ף יְהֹוָ֤ה מְאֹד֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיְסִרֵ֖ם מֵעַ֣ל פָּנָ֑יו לֹ֣א נִשְׁאַ֔ר רַ֛ק שֵׁ֥בֶט יְהוּדָ֖ה לְבַדּֽוֹ׃ The LORD was incensed at Israel and He banished them from His presence; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone. (2 Kings 17:18)

וַיָּבֵ֣א מֶֽלֶךְ־אַשּׁ֡וּר מִבָּבֶ֡ל וּ֠מִכּ֠וּתָה וּמֵעַוָּ֤א וּמֵֽחֲמָת֙ וּסְפַרְוַ֔יִם וַיֹּ֙שֶׁב֙ בְּעָרֵ֣י שֹֽׁמְר֔וֹן תַּ֖חַת בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיִּֽרְשׁוּ֙ אֶת־שֹׁ֣מְר֔וֹן וַיֵּֽשְׁב֖וּ בְּעָרֶֽיהָ׃ The king of Assyria brought [people] from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and he settled them in the towns of Samaria in place of the Israelites; they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its towns. (2 Kings 17:24)

Those new Assyrians who were settled in Samaria were told to follow Jewish religious customs, but they did not:

עַ֣ד הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ הֵ֣ם עֹשִׂ֔ים כַּמִּשְׁפָּטִ֖ים הָרִֽאשֹׁנִ֑ים אֵינָ֤ם יְרֵאִים֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֔ה וְאֵינָ֣ם עֹשִׂ֗ים כְּחֻקֹּתָם֙ וּכְמִשְׁפָּטָ֔ם וְכַתּוֹרָ֣ה וְכַמִּצְוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יַעֲקֹ֔ב אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֥ם שְׁמ֖וֹ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ To this day, they follow their former practices. They do not worship the LORD [properly]. They do not follow the laws and practices, the Teaching and Instruction that the LORD enjoined upon the descendants of Jacob—who was given the name Israel— (2 Kings 17:34)

There are many papers written by historians and archaeologists about Samaria during this time period, as there are written documents such as the Annals of Sargon II and prisms which reflect these battles, as well as a shift in types of pottery found with the population migration.

Map of holy land after Israel exiled by Assyrians, from The Carta Bible Atlas

Judea refers to the province of the tribe of Judah which held Jerusalem and the area to the south. King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple in 538BCE, after Nebuchadnezzer destroyed the Temple in 586BCE.

The term “Jews” arose because they were the people of Judea. As noted above, Samaria was part of the region but inhabited by non-Jews who did not follow Jewish rituals.

The Christian Bible also referred repeatedly about the Jew Jesus from Judea (Matthew 19:1; 3:1Luke 1:54:447:1723:5John 4:311:7Mark 10:1; Acts 10:3711:12926:20).

Creation of the “West Bank”

The United Nations General Assembly voted to partition the holy land into a Jewish State and an Arab State in November 1947, but the Arab countries uniformly rejected the effort. Five Arab armies invaded Israel when it declared itself a new state in May 1948, and by the end of the war in 1949, Israel secured more land than conceived under the partition plan.

While the borders were not considered official under the 1949 Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement, (“The Armistice Demarcation Lines… are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlement or boundary lines”), the Kingdom of Transjordan opted to unilaterally – and illegally – annex the region it had seized in an offensive war.

United Nations map showing the contours of the various Armistice Lines Israel signed with its neighbors to halt the fighting.

When Transjordan annexed the area on April 24, 1950, only the United Kingdom, Iraq and Pakistan recognized its actions while the rest of the world rejected it. After that time, during the years 1950 through 1958, the United Nations used various terms for that area which were tied to either Jordan or the Jordan River:

  • “west bank of the river in Arab Palestine” (1951)
  • “the area west of the Jordan River” (1952)
  • “West Jordan” (19501951195219541955195619571958)
  • “the western bank” (1952)
  • “Western Jordan” (19511952)
  • “that part of Jordan west of the Jordan River” (1956)
  • “west bank of the Jordan” (1957)

Then, in 1959, the United Nations seemed to embrace the de facto Jordanian annexation, referring to the area simply as “Jordan,” no different than the eastern part of the kingdom. To the extent that the U.N. wanted to specifically call out that area it used wordy terms:

  • “Jordan side of the armistice demarcation line”
  • “frontier villagers in Jordan”

That changed after Jordan illegally attacked Israel in June 1967 and lost the region. By the end of that month, the United Nations quickly moved to shorthand (A/6713) by the third mention:

  • “the West Bank of the Jordan”
  • “West Bank area of the Jordan”
  • “West Bank”

This shortened version for that area east of the 1949 Armistice Line has stuck at the U.N. and media parlance since that time.

Judea and Samaria Versus the “West Bank”

As reviewed above, Judea and Samaria and the West Bank are not the same. Judea and Samaria are historical names to much of the land, while the “West Bank” is a smaller, modern day creation due to an illegal act of war waged by Arab states upon Israel.

When people refer to the West Bank, they are only reviewing that part of the land that has been subject to negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as laid out in the Oslo Accords, signed by both parties. They are not considering the broader reach of all of Judea and Samaria, which includes land west of the 1949 Armistice Lines inside of Israel.

If one does not like to give the term “West Bank” – an area that existed for only 18 years from 1949 to 1967 and named only upon its extinguishment – any legitimacy, then perhaps a better term would be “east of the Armistice Lines (EAL)”, to highlight that the contour of such region was created as a temporary measure to halt hostilities, was never intended to be a border, and has no historic significance.

Related articles:

When You Understand Israel’s May 1948 Borders, You Understand There is No “Occupation”

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Considering Carter’s 1978 Letter Claiming Settlements Are Illegal

The 1967 War Created Both the “West Bank” and the Notion of a Palestinian State

Related First One Through video:

The Green Line (music by The Kinks)

Judea and Samaria (music by Foo Fighters)

From The River To The Sea, Jews Will Be Free…

One day, Jews will be able to live in peace

  • to have a beer,
  • eat some pizza,
  • drive a car,
  • ride a bus,
  • pray in synagogue,
  • sleep in in bed

Jewish children will freely live their lives

  • to ride a school bus,
  • play in a playground,
  • attend school,
  • take a nature hike,
  • relax in their bedrooms,
  • ride in a car with their fathers

All Jews will be free to live anywhere and everywhere

  • not barred entry to their homeland,
  • not ethically cleansed from their land,
  • not denied citizenship,
  • not have their holy places destroyed,
  • allowed to pray openly at their holy sites,
  • Not to told that their basic physical presence is illegal

Related articles:

For The New York Times, “From the River to the Sea” Is The Chant of Jewish and Christian Zealots

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

“Land Belonging to Palestinians Before the 1967 War”

Considering Israel’s Model for Arabs Applied to Jews in a Palestinian State

Will the UN Demand a Halt to Arabs Moving to Jerusalem?

Paying to Murder Jews: From Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Palestinian Authority

New York Times’ Tales of Israeli Messianic War-Mongering

Summary:  One year after acknowledging that Palestinians were to blame for the failed Israeli-Palestinian Authority peace process, left-wing NY Times contributor Roger Cohen cast Israelis as fanatical nationalists and Palestinians as passive, despondent victims. The Times’ cure for Jews’ violent adherence to their religious texts is punishing settlers with BDS, while the paper distanced Muslims from their religion and called for greater compassion towards these innocents.


Just in time for Christmas, Roger Cohen decided to write about the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. Again.

In an article called “The Assassination in Israel that Worked,” Cohen portrayed an Israeli society overrun with religious fanatical murderers. He described the killer of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir, as “a religious-nationalist follower of Baruch Goldstein, the American-born killer of 29 Palestinian worshipers in Hebron in 1994.” He wrote about Jews living east of the Green Line (EGL) as obsessed with “Messianic Zionism,” at odds with the concept of democracy. Because Palestinians are desperate for their own state, Jews living in EGL make “violence inevitable” according to Cohen. He argued that the UN’s creation of Israel “was territorial compromise, as envisaged in Resolution 181 of 1947, calling for two states, one Jewish and one Arab, in the Holy Land. This was humankind’s decision, not God’s.” In short, according to Cohen, the vast Messianic cult of violence in Israel seeks all of the Holy Land, but the rights of Jews are limited to just half of the land as dictated by man’s laws.

Lastly, Cohen argued, the only way to push back against the right-wing Israelis and their government was to employ different angles of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) in which Obama should “close American loopholes that benefit Israeli settlers.”

Here is a bit of education for Roger Cohen (maybe the byline was wrong and this was written by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, the loud advocate of BDS?):

A smaller percentage of Jewish “settlers” are murderers, than are terrorists which are Muslim.  The Cohen opinion piece would lead a person to believe that every Jewish “settler” takes up arms against Arabs, while the reality is that almost every Jew living in the land seeks to live in peace with their Arab neighbors. Baruch Goldstein was an anomaly, not the rule.

Why would the Times print such an inflammatory piece against Jews when it is in the midst of a blitz about the dangers of “Islamophobia”?  The Times wrote over-and-again that most Muslims are peaceful and that Muslim terrorist abuse the interpretation of Islamic holy texts.  Yet the Times was eager to describe Jewish killers as motivated by the plain reading of the Jewish holy texts, and suggested that any Jew living in Judea and Samaria is either a potential killer, or instigates Palestinian violence.

It is untrue, unfair and reeks of hypocrisy to portray Jews in such a manner.  There are almost no Jews in Judea and Samaria that committed murders, but the Times labelled all “settlers” as devout killers.  Meanwhile, the global jihadist movement enlisted thousands and slaughtered thousands, and the Times rallied to the defense of Muslims.

“Islamophobia” Op-Eds from Paul Krugman on December 11, 2015, and
Nicholas Kristof on December 13, 2015

Front Page of NY Times Sunday Review on “Islamophobia”
on December 13, 2015

Front Page New York Times story on December 15, 2015 about
Young Muslims suffering from “Islamophobia”

Jews are entitled to live in EGL/ Judea and Samaria according to international law. The 1922 Mandate of Palestine by the League of Nations clearly and specifically encouraged Jews to live throughout the Holy Land, including areas now known as the “West Bank.” The Mandate included language that specified that no one should be prevented from living anywhere because of their religion.

“Messianic Zionism” may be a driving force motivating some Jewish families to move to the region, just as they might move to Haifa or Be’er Sheva. Some people are motivated by Zionism without a Messianic component, while others go for good jobs in the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.  The motivation for living there is irrelevant; the right of Jews to live anywhere in the Holy Land was established in international law.

“Violence is inevitable” because Arab don’t want Jews as neighbors, not because Arabs want a state.  Arabs have been killing Jews in the Holy Land for 100 years.  In several episodes in the 1920s, including the brutal Hebron massacre in 1929, Arabs called for ridding the land of Jews.  On the eve of the Holocaust, they launched multi-year riots (1936-9) slaughtering dozens of Palestinian Jews and convinced the British to limit Jewish immigration, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of European Jews.

Whites in the 1950s also did not want to live with black neighbors. Racism and anti-Semitism are to be condemned, not rationalized.  Shame on the New York Times for defending Arab attacks on Jews.

The establishment of Israel as a Jewish State has been rejected by the Arabs for 100 years, and counting.  Cohen pointed to the United Nations Partition Plan which called for creating a Jewish State in 1947.  He failed to say that the Arabs REJECTED that plan.  They opted to launch a war against Israel instead.

Israel has continued to seek peace with its neighboring Arab countries: Jews approved the partition plan in 1947; the country uprooted Jews living in Sinai in 1982; it handed various cities to the Palestinian Authority in 1995; it uprooted Jews from Gaza in 2005. Israel made various peace offers to the Palestinians, including in 2000 and 2008. The Palestinians reacted to each offer with wars, and continue to reject Israel as the Jewish State to this day.


One year ago, Cohen wrote Why Israeli-Palestinian Peace Failed. “ In the article, he acknowledged various Israeli peace efforts including settlement freezes and prisoner releases.  In exchange for the Israeli gestures, the Palestinian Authority created a reconciliation government with the terrorist group Hamas, and joined international bodies counter to the agreed upon peace framework.  The peace talks collapsed.

Cohen has now concluded that while the Palestinians suffer from ineptitude and corruption, at the end of the day, their cause is just.  The Palestinians are not only despondent, but desperate for an external force to advance their vision of a state.  Cohen believes that Obama should begin to advance various iterations of BDS on Jews living east of the Green Line to assure the Palestinians goal of a Jew-free state (Obama has indicated in the past that he approves of a Judenfrei Palestine). Cohen had no suggestions – or concerns – of how to make Palestinians approve of the Jewish State living in security.

The radical left-wing call for BDS of the Israeli territories is easier to make when one ignores the 99% of peaceful families living in Judea and Samaria.  So Cohen, and other Israel-bashers paint all of these Jews as “Messianic Zionists” who are out of touch with reality.  They are either murderers of Arabs like Baruch Goldstein, or of the peace process with Arabs like Yigal Amir.

Cohen fails two of Natan Sharansky “Three Ds” test for anti-Semitism: demonization and double standards.  To rephrase the great ballad-rocker Meatloaf, Two of the Three IS Bad.

When will the Times and the left-wing fringe look at the Jewish families with an iota of the compassion they shower upon peaceful Muslims?

Related First.One.Through articles:

Palestinians are “Desperate” for…

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Framing the Israeli-Palestinian Arab Conflict: WSJ and NY Times

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

The Narrative that Prevents Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Israel and Wars

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The New York Times on the History of Gush Etzion

The New York Times actually tried to give its readers some history of Gush Etzion for a change. Unfortunately, it still missed the critical points.
New York Times article from December 15, 2015
In an article entitled “West Bank Shopping Center, a Symbol of Coexistence, is Shaken by Violence,” the Times gave more detailed history than typical when it provided background on the Gush Etzion “settlements” in Judea and Samaria/ West Bank of the Jordan River.  While the paper would typically state that “the world considers all settlements seized by Israel in 1967 as illegal,” it opted to give more historical context on December 15th.  It wrote:
“Gush Etzion, or the Etzion block, a cluster of more than a dozen Jewish settlements, lies south of Jerusalem, in the Bethlehem area. It is often described as part of the Israeli “national consensus,” a chunk of West Bank land seized from Jordan in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 that many Jewish Israelis assume will always be part of Israel, and it holds a special status in the country’s psyche, associated with tragedy and triumph.

The first Jewish settlers arrived in the 1920s. Four communities were established by the 1940s but they were destroyed in the war of 1948 over the creation of Israel. Jordanian forces killed scores of Jews who tried to defend the area and took scores more captive.

After Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, a group of Israelis, including some descendants of those who had fought to defend it in 1948, reestablished Jewish settlements there.

The Palestinians and much of the world consider all settlements in the territories seized in 1967 as illegal and an obstacle to establishing a Palestinian state. While most peace plans envisage exchanges of land that could leave at least part of Gush Etzion under Israeli sovereignty, Israelis and Palestinians have never agreed on the size of the block.”

The Times opted to repeat its often used language – twice – but it did give much more history than it normally does.  However, while it described Jews moving to area in the 1920s, and some of the new residents as descendants of those original settlers, the reader was still left with the wrong impression that Jews are living there illegally.
Key points that were omitted from the article:
  • The 1922 League of Nations Mandate specifically gave Jews the right to live and establish themselves THROUGHOUT the Holy Land. This was a matter of international law and the Jews availed themselves of this legal right.  In 1922, there was no concept of a “West Bank.”  It was all just “Palestine” and Jews legally purchased land and built homes in Gush Etzion.  As stated in Article 6, the Mandate “shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”  Further, Article 15 of the Mandate specifically stated that no part of Palestine should be off-limits to people based on their religion: “No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.”
  • When Jordan illegally attacked Israel in 1949 and killed the Jews in Gush Etzion, it did not undermine the legal rights Jews had for living in their homes.
  • Jordan’s illegal expulsion of all of the Jews from the region in 1949 counter to the fourth Geneva Convention was not mentioned by the Times.
  • The fact that Jordan illegally annexed the region in 1950 in an action that was never recognized by any country was also omitted.
  • Jordan (and Palestinians who had been granted Jordanian citizenship) attacked Israel in 1967, counter the Israel-Jordan Armistice agreement, and Israel was legally justified in responding in self-defense.
  • Jordan gave up all claim to the region in 1988.
It was nice to see the Times take steps to educate readers a bit more about Gush Etzion.  However, the details provided still left a reader with the impression that Jews live in Gush Etzion illegally, and it is only a matter of “national consensus” that leads Israelis to believe that the bloc will be formally part of Israel.  The many illegal activities of Jordan also continue to be ignored.
Perhaps the full facts disturb the Times’ narrative too profoundly to detail.

Related First.One.Through articles:

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Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

In the year 164BCE, the Jews in the land of Israel successfully evicted the Selucid Greeks from Jerusalem and rededicated the Jewish Temple which had been defiled. Roughly 2200 years later, history has been inverted.

The Selucid Greeks Come to the Holy Land

The Selucid Greeks (from Syria) and the Egyptians were the major powers in the Middle East 2200 years ago. Israel acted as a buffer region between the two powers, and often fell under the authority of one or the other.

The Selucid King Antiochus III (241BCE-187BCE) expanded his kingdom into Asia and took control of Israel from the Egyptians. Generally, he treated the Jews well and they continued their autonomy and Temple worship in Jerusalem.  When he died, his son Antiochus IV became king, who sought to unify the various parts of the expanded Selucid kingdom via a common religion and culture. He removed the Jewish High Priest Yochanan from the Temple in Jerusalem and installed Yochanan’s brother Jason who was willing to permit more Hellenistic and pagan worship. Jason was later replaced by Menalus who promised even more pagan rituals.

Before long, Antiochus IV came to the holy land and began to ban important parts of Judaism such as circumcision and observing the Sabbath. He enforced his vision via the sword.

As the Selucid Greeks rampaged through Israel, they descended on an important city in the heart of Judea, 19km northwest of Jerusalem.

The Priestly City of Modi’in

Modi’in had grown into a large city full of priests to help manage Temple worship in Jerusalem. As thousands of Jews from northern Israel went to Jerusalem for sacrifices, the city was often overwhelmed both in terms of places for pilgrims to stay and in processing animals and offerings. Modi’in became the main city for Jews of northern Israel to stop into before continuing to the Temple in Jerusalem.  The priests in Modi’in acted as partners to Jerusalem’s priests in managing an orderly Temple service.

The priests of Modi’in were already alarmed by the defilement of the Temple when Antiochus came to their city to install pagan altars. The priests, led by Mattityahu, rebelled against Antiochus and over the next years, turned back the Selucid’s evil decrees and rededicated the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The holiday of Chanukah is a celebration of the re-establishment of Jewish autonomy throughout the holy land and purification of the holy Jewish Temple.

The Inverted Chanukah Today

The modern city of Modi’in was established in 1993 as a central hub halfway between the major Israeli urban centers of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As the city grew to nearly 100,000 people, it incorporated the neighboring villages of Maccabim (named after the Maccabees who fought the Selucid Greeks) and Re’ut. Nearby towns also carry the names of the Jewish heroes of 2200 years ago, such as Chashmona’im, named after the Hasmonean Dynasty.

In August 2012, the European Union declared that Modi’in was not part of the Jewish State.  The EU followed that ruling in November 2015, when it began to label any products from the city and the rest of Judea and Samaria as distinct from Israel.

While the EU was declaring that the heart of Judea and Samaria were not part of Israel, the Palestinian Arabs were complaining that Jews were defiling their holy places on the Temple Mount.

In September 2015, acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas called for Arabs to rebel against Jews who were defiling Jerusalem: “We bless you, we bless the Murabitin (those carrying out Ribat, religious conflict/war to protect land claimed to be Islamic), we bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every Martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours, and they have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”

Arabs took the streets with knives stabbing Jews throughout the holy land.  The United Nations, the United States and the EU did not condemn Abbas’s calls of incitement.  Instead, they spoke about the “legitimate grievances” of Muslims and Arabs.  In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to limit access for Jews to the Temple Mount.


This Chanukah, the world bears witness to evil in the Middle East once again, as Palestinian Arabs stab Israeli civilians and the Islamic State beheads infidels.  The desire to establish a homogeneous religion and culture still simmers in the Arab world.

But some history is now inverted:

  • Modi’in, the large ancient city where the Jewish revolt was launched, which now houses nearly 100,000 Jews, is now not considered part of the Jewish State by the global community.
  • The Jews complained and fought to remove pagan practices from their Temple long ago, and now Muslims seek to remove Jews from the Temple Mount (even though the Jews have done nothing to block Muslim worship).

On the first Chanukah 2200 years ago, Jews purged the pagan presence from Judea and Jerusalem.  Today, the world works to purge those cities of Jews.

This year, Jews should not just celebrate the holiday of lights, but commemorate the holiday of rights.  The meaning of the holiday is about Jewish autonomy and rights of worship from Judea to Jerusalem.  Put your menorah in the window and your voice on the web.

Moddin menora
Chanukah in Modi’in 2015
(photo: Elliot Bache)

Related First.One.Through articles

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

The Journeys of Abraham and Ownership of the Holy Land

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

Losing the Temples, Knowledge and Caring

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The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

The world has a long established track record of telling Jews where they can and cannot live. It is a phenomenon that uniquely relates to Jews which continues to this day in the holy land.

Pluralistic World, Narrowly Defined

The “Western World” likes to think of itself as modern and “progressive.” Its leaders believe they have largely overcome rampant bigotry in their societies. For example, western leaders would never suggest that black people be only allowed to live in certain cities, or declare that gays be confined to ghettos. Even during this wave of radical Islamic terrorism, no leader would ever say that all Muslims should be expelled from the country. Modern civilized society would never tolerate such positions.

The “Western” pluralistic approach is not confined to opinions within its own borders. Wherever there is ethnic strife, western officials promote parties getting along.  In northern Cyprus, Christians and Muslims are urged to reconcile.  In Myanmar, the US calls for Muslims and Buddhists to try to live together in peace.

However, the attitudes change when it comes to Jews in the Middle East. Pluralism is passé east of the Green Line.

Jews are Treated Differently

Today, it has become all too common for Europeans to protest in the streets chanting “Free Palestine” in calls for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. University professors give legitimacy to Hamas, a terrorist group, which openly calls for killing Jews and destroying Israel. The leaders of the European Union call for Jews to be expelled from Judea and Samaria. And the President of the United States, Barack Obama, condemned Jews living in apartments they legally purchased in eastern Jerusalem.

While pluralism is an embraced ideal, the open tent does not cover Israel.  The western world that prides itself on fraternity, believes that Jews should be banned from living in predominantly Arab neighborhoods.  The modern culture that seeks a global community, wants to deny Jews the right to live in their homes. The progressive left which advocates for human rights, condemns Jews rather than Palestinian Arabs who fight for a Jew-free state.

Ideally, everyone should be able live anywhere.  Except for Jews who should be banned from living east of the invisible Green Line.

It should not surprise people that the Jewish State is treated differently. These same “progressive” countries have a long history of forcing Jews into ghettos and expelling them from their homes.  Dictating where Jews are allowed to live is second nature. It’s the Jewish “Pen Policy.”

Here is a list of the Pen Policy in action, after the Crusades. This list ignores the brutal slaughter of millions of Jews over that time.  There is no comparable treatment of any other ethnic or religious minority.

History of Expelling Jews

Many governments expelled all of their Jewish inhabitants, both on the local city level and on the national level.

Austria: Jews expelled from Vienna in 1670.

Brazil: Jews expelled from Recife in 1654.

Czech Republic: Jews expelled from Prague in 1745.

England: Expelled all of the Jews in 1290. Jews could not live in England for another 360 years.

Egypt: Jews expelled in 1956.
Israel removes Jews from Sinai in peace deal with Egypt in 1982.

France: 100,000 Jews expelled in 1306 and then again in 1322.
Charles VI expelled the Jews in 1394.
In 1420, the Jews were expelled from Lyons.

Germany: Jews expelled from Brandenburg in 1510.
In 1593, Jews expelled from Bavaria.
In 1614, Jews expelled from Frankfurt.

Hungary: Marie Theresa (still an all-time favorite leader among Hungarians) expelled all Jews from Hungary and Bohemia in 1744.

Italy: Jews expelled from Southern Italy in 1288.
In 1491, Jews expelled from Ravenna.
In 1492, Jews expelled from Sicily and Sardinia.
In 1494, Jews expelled from Florence and Tuscany.
In 1510, Jews expelled from southern Rome.
In 1541, last Jews evicted from Naples.
In 1550, Jews expelled from Genoa.
In 1558, Jews expelled from Recanati.
In 1569, all Jews forced out of Papal states by decree of Pope Pius V.
In 1571, Venice decides to evict all remaining Jews, but does not carry it out.
In 1593, Pope Clement VIII evicts Jews from all papal states, except Rome.
In 1597, almost all of the Jews of Milan are expelled.

Lithuania: Jews expelled in 1495.

Martinique: King Louis XIV ordered all Jews expelled from French colonies in the New World in 1683.

Netherlands: Jews banned from Utrecht in 1444.

Palestinian Authority: After massacre of 69 Jews by local Arabs, British forces remove remaining Jewish community of Hebron in 1929.
In 1949, after attacking Israel when it declared independence, Jordanians expel all Jews from Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem which they illegally annex.
In 2005, Israel removes all Jews from Gaza Strip.

Poland: Jews expelled from Warsaw in 1483.

Portugal: Some Jews expelled in 1483.
In 1497, choice of conversion or expulsion of all Jews.

Spain: Jews expelled from Seville in 1483.
All 200,000 Jews expelled from country in 1492.

Switzerland: Jews expelled from Basel in 1349.

Tunisia: Jews expelled or massacred in 1535.


Some governments did not expel their Jews, but forced them to live in concentrated areas. Street signs can still be found in European cities named “Street of the Jews.”

Austria: Vienna’s Leopoldstadt goes back hundreds of years.

Czech Republic: Prague has one of the most famous Jewish Quarters, which was created as a restrictive ghetto.

Italy: Venice instituted the first ghetto by papal decree in Europe in 1516.  Others were developed in Ferrara (1624) and Rome (1555).

Germany: Created over 1000 in Germany and Poland during World War II, including the infamous Warsaw Ghetto.

Russia: Jews were confined to the “Pale of Settlements” in 1791.  Jews were forbidden to live in 75% of Russia.

“Jew Street” in Obernai, France
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

The world has grown very comfortable dictating where Jews may live. It is well past time for Europeans to condemn the racist Jew-free attitudes of Jordanians (1949-1967) and Palestinian Arabs today, and adopt a pluralistic and welcoming approach towards Jews in Judea and Samaria.

In November 2015, in a speech about attitudes towards Muslims, US President Barack Obama said, “we don’t have religious tests for our compassion… We don’t discriminate against people because of their faith.” If only he and others held such feelings about Jews as well.

Related First.One.Through articles and videos:

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

Video: Judea and Samaria (Foo Fighters)

Video: The “1967 Borders” (The Kinks)

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Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Many uniformed critics of Israel criticize the creation of Israel and claim that Israel was established as a colonial outpost of Great Britain. The statement is absurd and easily disproven.

International Law, Not British Law

Various international laws approved the immigration of Jews to Palestine and international bodies approved the creation of the Jewish State of Israel.

May 1949: International Approval: The United Nations voted to admit the State of Israel  as a member state, at the end of Israel’s war with Arab countries.

May 1948: International Approval: The United States, the Soviet Union and several other countries recognized Israel soon after Israel declared Independence.

May 1948: Israel Declares Independence, but not from Great Britain: Israel waited to declare its statehood until after Great Britain left the holy land and completed its mandate. The Israeli Declaration of Independence never mentioned Great Britain, as GB never viewed the land as a colony (compare that to the language in US Declaration of Independence which mentioned severing ties with GB.)

November 1947 UN Partition Vote: The United Nations voted to create a Jewish State in Palestine with 33 votes in favor, 13 against and 10 abstentions (Great Britain abstained).

July 1922 League of Nations Established Jewish Homeland: The League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) voted to break apart the old Ottoman Empire and placed the area of Palestine under British oversight. That area of Palestine included areas of Jordan and Israel which were to include a “national home for the Jewish people.”

April 1920 San Remo Conference. The Allies of World War I (Britain, France, Japan and Italy) voted for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

The term “British Mandate” has become confused for many people with Israel being a “British Colony.” It is simply untrue. The world powers broke apart huge sections of the Middle East with areas under both British and French administration, including countries today known as Lebanon and Syria. No one refers to any of those countries as a “colony.”

british and french mandates
British and French Mandates covering much of the Middle East

British did not favor Jews in Palestine

Despite language in the 1922 Mandate that the British should “facilitate Jewish immigration” to Palestine, the British sided with local Palestinians that sought to curtail an influx of Jews. On the eve of the Holocaust in Europe, when Jews were desperate for a place to flee, the British issued the 1939 “White Paper” which limited the number of Jews that could enter Palestine.  That edict likely cost hundreds of thousands of European Jews their lives.

The British decree created tremendous tensions between Palestinian Jews and the British. There were many battles between the groups, the most famous being the destruction of the King David Hotel in 1946.

No Transfer of British People

As described above, the British were merely administrators of Palestine for a period of time. They did not seek a permanent presence of soldiers or civilians. Virtually no British Jews (or non-Jews) relocated to Palestine on a permanent basis over the course of the Mandate period through 1948.  The Jews that came to Palestine under the Mandate period principally came from elsewhere in Europe and Russia:

  • Third Aliyah (1919-1923): 40,000 from Russia and Poland
  • Fourth Aliyah (1924-1929): 82,000 (many subsequently left) from Poland; Russia; Romania; Lithuania; Yemen and Iraq
  • Fifth Aliyah (1929-1939): 250,000 from Europe fleeing German Nazis
  • Aliyah Bet (1939-1948): 110,000, mostly illegally, smuggled from Europe fleeing Holocaust

Rights of the Indigenous Jewish People

The world powers voted to enable a national home for the Jewish people for a few reasons:

  • Jews were indigenous to Israel, as stated in the Mandate, the world recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country
  • Jews had been forcibly evicted from their national home
  • The Ottomans and others made it difficult for Jews to move back and acquire land for hundreds of years

The Jews had political kingdoms and religious Temples in the holy land for over 1000 years, but were expelled against their will. The new international laws were meant to remove the modern roadblocks that were placed before Jews from moving to Palestine and owning land.

Even though it was difficult for Jews to move to Palestine and acquire homes and land under the Ottomans, the Jews were the fastest growing religious group from 1800 to 1914. Jews have also been the largest religious group in Jerusalem since 1870.


The official languages in Israel today are Hebrew and Arabic. While English is widely spoken, it is not an official language, further underscoring that the country never was established as a British colony.

RE-ESTABLISHED under International Law

In short, there is no basis whatsoever for calling Israel a British colony. The global community approved facilitating the free movement of Jews back to their holy land, where Jews already lived. The global community ultimately approved RE-ESTABLISHING a Jewish State. This was not Great Britain arbitrarily creating a colony for its own purposes.

It should also be underscored that Zionism was not only a modern idea conceived by Jews as a reaction to anti-Semitism in Europe and Russia.  Henry Dunant (1828-1910), the winner of the first Nobel Peace Prize was an ardent Christian Zionist who strongly advocated for the rights of Jews to live in Palestine in the 1860s.

Israel 1974 bote at UN
Vote for Israel at United Nations, 1947

The “West Bank” is not an Israeli Colony

As detailed above, the global community approved the rights of Jews to move to their ancient homeland in the holy land.  That right was given to the entire region, including Judea and Samaria.  While the UN voted to recognize a Jewish State within a section of Palestine, the right to move throughout the region was approved in repeated resolutions many decades ago.

While the UN does not recognize Judea and Samaria to be part of Israel, they also do not recognize it as part of Jordan that illegally annexed it in 1950 (Jordan gave up all claim to the region in 1988).  The UN would like to see that region be part of a new Arab State of Palestine through negotiations with Israel.

The desire to see a new Palestinian State does not mean that international law protecting the rights of Jews to live in the region are null and void.  The 1922 British Mandate Article 15 specifically stated that “no person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.”  “No person” included Jews, and “Palestine” covered the entire mandate area of 1922.

The Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995 which were negotiated between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, specifically stated that Israel controls and administers most of the “West Bank.”  As such, Israel approves housing and roads and infrastructure for everyone.  So the Palestinians agree that Israel is in charge of housing and international law approves Jews living in the region.  Israel acts as the administrator, much in the same way that Great Britain acted as the administrator for Palestine from 1922 to 1948.

Lastly, the “settlements” are principally located next to greater metropolitan areas within Israel.  Unlike European colonies which were across oceans and thousands of miles from the country, these Jewish homes are just suburban communities of major Israeli cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  They happen to be on the other side of an invisible “green line” that was the Armistice Lines of 1949.  Those Armistice Agreements specifically stated that those lines were not to be considered borders.


Jews have lived throughout the holy land for thousands of years, including all over Judea and Samaria/ the “West Bank”.  International laws facilitated the ability of Jews to move back to, and throughout, their homeland.

Jews were self-governing for over a thousand years in the holy land.  International laws reconstituted the national Jewish home.

While Jordan illegally attacked Israel and expelled all of the Jews from Judea and Samaria counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949, those illegal actions cannot make it illegal for Jews to once again live in homes they legally purchase throughout the land.

When you hear acting-President of the Palestinian Authority chant “colonial occupier” or uninformed people claim that Israel is a colonialist tool, send them this article.

Related First.One.Through articles and video:

The United Nations’ Remorse for “Creating” Israel

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

The Arguments over Jerusalem

Video: Judea and Samaria (Foo Fighters)

Video: The “1967 Borders” (The Kinks)

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Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

On November 13, 2015, several resolutions were put forth at the United Nations to advance the cause of a Palestinian State.  Some of the statements made in the resolutions are self-contradictory and undermine the very foundation of the claims that Israel occupies “Palestinian territory.”

Claim of Israel’s Illegal Acquisition
of Land by War

In the Resolution Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (A/70/L.13), there is a claim that Israel illegally took control over Palestinian land:

“Reaffirming the principle of
the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war

This statement underlies the argument that many people have against Israel’s settlements in the “West Bank”: that Israel enlarged its boundaries when it “seized” (to quote the New York Times) Palestinian land in the Six-Day War in 1967.  The claim stems from some international laws in the United Nations:

  • UN Charter (1945) Article 2: Paragraph 3: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that peace and security, and justice are not endangered.”
  • UN Charter (1945) Article 2: Paragraph 4: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
  • Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970) Principle 1: “Every State has the duty to refrain in its international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. Such a threat or use of force constitutes a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and shall never be employed as a means of settling international issues.

What is peculiar in the condemnation of Israel, is that the UN and Palestinians already acknowledge that Israel “seized Palestinian land” in 1949 and have endorsed it, as detailed below.

In the very same November 2015 UN resolution, the various countries that put forth the resolution (Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Comoros, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and State of Palestine), stated the following:

“Noting with concern that it has been 68 years since the adoption of its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 and 48 years since the occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in 1967,” 

Note that “the occupation of Palestinian territory” is claimed to have started in 1967.  If there is a valid claim that Israel seized “Palestinian” land , the argument should extend to territory that Israel acquired in 1948-9. Yet the Palestinians curiously omit such claim not because they don’t view everything as Palestinian land, but because Israel has not sought to annex the West Bank.

November 29, 1947 to June 10, 1967

On July 24, 1922, the League of Nations (precursor to the UN) drafted a resolution that recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home… [and] will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home… [and] shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” It was on this basis that the world joined in the Zionist dream of further encouraging Jewish aliyah to Israel to create a Jewish homeland.

After several decades of Arabs fighting the law and seeking the end of Jewish immigration to Palestine, the British who oversaw the territory turned to the United Nations to implement a compromise solution.  On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into distinct Jewish and Arab states. UN resolution 181 (which was specifically mentioned by the parties above in the 2015 UN resolution), was passed with 33 votes affirming; 13 against; and 10 countries abstaining.

On May 14 1948, as the British left Palestine, Israel declared itself as an independent state along the borders that were approved by the United Nations.  Several countries recognized the country including the US; the Soviet Union; Poland; Ireland; Yugoslavia; and South Africa, among others.  For their part, the Palestinian Arabs did NOT announce their own country along the UN stated borders.

1947 partition
Borders approved in UN resolution 181
November 29, 1947

Instead, with the approval of the Palestinian Arabs, several Arab countries – principally Jordan; Egypt; Syria; and Iraq, with forces also from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – invaded Israel.  In doing so those countries broke several international laws passed by the United Nations listed above about the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.

At war’s end, Israel took additional land from the region that was originally allocated by the UN to be a Palestinian Arab state.  Armistice agreements between Israel and the various warring parties were executed in 1949 which included language that the Armistice lines were NOT to be construed as final borders.  Egypt assumed control of the Gaza Strip and Jordan took control of Judea and Samaria, later annexing it into an area referred to as the “West Bank” in a move that was never recognized by the United Nations.

israel 1949 map
Borders after 1948-9 War

The world recognized the incremental land that Israel captured in its defensive war against the Arab armies in 1949.  That incremental land was disputed, and not part of any independent country or member state of the UN.

Since June 10, 1967

Even with the Armistice agreements meant to assure peace, Egypt and Syria made many provocative statements and actions that threatened Israel in early 1967.  In response to those threats, Israel launched a preemptive attack on Egypt and Syria in June 1967.  Despite warnings to remain out of the conflict, Jordan (together with Palestinian Arabs who were granted Jordanian citizenship in 1950) launched an attack on Israel from its illegal territory in the “West Bank.”

Once again, the Arab countries broke international law as well as the Armistice agreements they had in place with Israel.  As in the 1948-9 War, Israel legally defended itself and captured additional land:

  • Gaza (held by Egypt but not legally part of any country);
  • Sinai (part of Egypt)
  • Judea and Samaria/ West Bank (annexed illegally by Jordan, but not legally part of any country);
  • the Golan Heights (from Syria)

Additional land added to Israel after
1967 Six Day War

When the Palestinian Arabs today discuss “the occupation of Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, in 1967,”  they are referring to land that is NOT, nor has it ever been part of a Palestinian state.  They are referring to lands that have been disputed for decades, that they would LIKE to have as a future Palestinian state.


The world accepted the acquisition of additional land by Israel in 1949.  The lands acquired were not “seized” in an offensive war against another country, but were disputed lands taken in a defensive war.  The West Bank and Gaza were taken similarly in 1967 (note that Israel left Gaza completely on its own in 2005).  The Sinai peninsula was returned to Egypt in 1982.

The Palestinians refused to accept Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947 and never declared an independent state.  While Israel has thus far only annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem that was divided in the 1948-9 War, it has left open the possibility of dividing Judea and Samaria, even though it was acquired in exactly the same manner as lands taken in 1948-9.

It is peculiar that countries acting on the Palestinian Arab’s behalf today should call out “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” when several of those countries illegally warred against Israel in 1948-9, and the world gave Israel incremental disputed land at that time.  Arab countries repeated their illegal wars against Israel in 1967 and are now trying to recast history when the situation was identical to 1948-9.

The world accepted the additional land acquired by Israel in 1949 and the Palestinians admit as much when they only refer to land “occupied” since 1967.  The global community should accept Israel’s annexation of additional land when Israel chooses to annex it, and stop mischaracterizing the disputed land as “Palestinian territory,implying a history with claims that do not exist.

Related First.One.Through articles:

The Legal Israeli Settlements

The Green Line

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

The Narrative that Prevents Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

Real and Imagined Laws of Living in Silwan

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The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

Summary: The gap in resolving the long running Israel-Palestinian Question has to do with the goals of each party: the Israelis believe they have been engaged in a peace process between peoples while the Palestinians are negotiating a divorce settlement between countries.

Politicians and the media – both well-meaning and otherwise – have blamed various parties for the failures to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When they are not directly pointing accusing fingers, they still use language which conveys their biases. A person needn’t look past the language used in discussions about Jewish homes beyond the Green Line/ 1949 Armistice Lines – the “settlements”.


“Viability”: As detailed in “A Viable Palestinian State”, various parties have described the “settlements” as a hindrance to a viable Palestinian state. The statement is meant as a direct attack on Israel, and is absurd. If a Palestinian state cannot exist with a 5% Jewish population, then surely Israel cannot exist with a 20% Muslim population. Are the people that make such a comment looking for Israel to expel a million Israeli Arabs?

Similarly, if a viable Palestine is compromised because such new country would be only 15km across at a single point, surely Israel cannot exist in its current configuration with a 15km narrow corridor for a dozen kilometers. Are these politicians and media pundits suggesting that Israel must annex the entire spine of the land?

“Complication” and “Provocation”: Another sentiment that is expressed is that settlements “complicate the peace process.” As conveyed in June 2015 by the New York Times in an article called “Israel’s work on a West Bank Site Gives Rise to New Suspicion,” even existing homes purchased by private individuals (as opposed to new communities established by the Israeli government) hurt the peace process. The article described a man who purchased an abandoned building and surrounding property: “Leftist Israeli politicians and advocacy groups have reacted with alarm, suspecting a new settlement in the occupied West Bank [a NYT term] that would further complicate the peace process.

This statement is similar to the rebuke of the Obama administration to Jews buying and moving into homes they own in Silwan, in the eastern part of Jerusalem. As detailed in the FirstOneThrough article “Obama supports Anti-Semitic Palestinian Agenda of Jew-Free State,” the Obama administration condemned Jews for legally buying homes and becoming neighbors in an Arab neighborhood east of the Green Line, referring to such basic act of living as a provocation.

And therein lies the basic gap in understanding the actions, intentions and goals of the two sides.

New York Times article quoting “leftists” that claim that individual Jews owning land east of the Green Line “complicates peace”

Israeli Peace Process

The primary stated goals of the negotiations were to get to a peace based on two states:

  • The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are vital. But they’re not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians. Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state. I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu May 2011
  • Our goal is two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The process is the one of direct negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to resolve all the permanent status issues and end the occupation that began in 1967 under which Palestinians have suffered so much.” Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas June 2003

As part of making peace with Palestinian Arabs, Israel has stated it will enable a new state of Palestine to be created.  For their part, the Palestinian Arabs are interested in their new state to be self-governing and to not deal with Israeli Jews. Israel has focused on peace with the people; Palestinians have focused on separation of the people. Two states living side-by-side in peace is not the same as two people living side-by-side in peace.

A peace process is best established with various personal, commercial and governmental relationships and dealings. Such interactions would enable the parties to navigate ongoing thorny issues like water rights and security.  It would enable partnerships to develop tourism and the economy.

Israel understands the importance of establishing relationships with its Arab neighbors.  As soon as the country was founded in 1948, the country granted 160,000 non-Jews citizenship and extended an offer and desire for peace with the neighboring Arab countries.  When Israel annexed Jerusalem, it offered all of the people there citizenship.  As of 2015, non-Jews account for 25% of Israel and have full rights in the most liberal country in the region, and one of the most liberal in the world. In the 2015 Israeli election, the Arab party placed third among the dozen parties seeking seats in the Knesset.

Over the decades, Israel forged peace agreements with neighboring Arab countries Egypt and Jordan.  It has stated that it is ready to so with Palestinian Arabs and the other neighboring countries as well.

Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

When Israel captured the area east of the Green Line in 1967 after it was attacked by the Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs, it rescinded the Jordanian ban on Jews living in the area (from 1949-67).  Israel allowed Jews to live and establish themselves in the region once again where they bought existing houses next to Arabs, built new houses, and created new companies.

All of which, made the Palestinian Arabs angry.

The Palestinians do not want Jewish neighbors in a new state.  Acting President Abbas made very clear his intention when he declared “we will not see the presence of a single Israeli – soldier or civilian – on our lands.”

The Palestinians do not want any Jewish businesses in a new state.  Despite the extraordinary efforts that some companies like Sodastream went through to hire Palestinian Arabs in its plant east of the Green Line (EGL) to work alongside Israeli Arabs and Jews, Palestinians put pressure on the company to abandon the area – which it did. Palestinians promote a BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) of all businesses established by Jews in the EGL.

Palestinians think Jews have no rights to buy or live anywhere in the land. They think the entire region – including Israel – is Arab land and that Jews have no history in the region. One can often hear Abbas and other Palestinians refer to the “Judaization” of the land, as if the holy land never had Jews.

The Palestinians reject the legitimacy of Israel itself. While the Palestinians will acknowledge the fact that Israel exists and will negotiate with it, they do not view the existence of the Jewish state as legitimate. They consider Jews colonialists and Israel a foreign colonial enterprise.  As such, they will not recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

The Palestinians are not looking for peace with Israel, nor are they seeking peace with Jews. They view the presence of both in the entire holy land as illegitimate. Their goals are to completely separate themselves from Israel and Jews in their own state, and to reestablish a majority Arab presence inside of Israel. Within their new country, the Palestinians do not want a single Israeli person or business.  Inside of Israel, they want millions of Arabs that are second and third generation removed from Arabs that once lived in the land, to specifically move to Israel because they feel that such land is also Arab land which Jews took illegally.


That is why Jewish “settlements” east of the Green Line are inaccurately called obstacles to a “peace process.” Jewish homes and businesses east of the Green Line do NOT “complicate the peace process”, they complicate the divorce proceedings that the Palestinians desire. A Jewish presence can only be called a “provocation” to a people that want to be rid of Jews.

It is not inaccurate to state that Jewish homes in EGL complicate permanent status negotiations, but it is an inversion of the truth to claim that they hurt the “peace process.”


Related First One Through articles:

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Delivery of the Fictional Palestinian Keys

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria


The Legal Israeli Settlements

Many people have argued that it is illegal for Israelis to live beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines (east of the Green Line, EGL/Judea and Samaria/West Bank).  The question of “legitimacy” (not legality) has been repeated often by the USA’s Obama Administration.  Those comments are more harsh towards Israel than prior American administrations that simply viewed new settlements as “unhelpful” to a peace agreement between Israel and the Arab states.  Jimmy Carter was the only US president that actually called the settlements “illegal”.  Below is a review of the international laws that apply towards the settlements.

Street sign in Judea and Samaria

Fourth Geneva Convention

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention deals with the treatment of “occupied territory“.  It is unclear whether it applies to territory obtained in both offensive and defensive wars, but this review will assume that the law stands in either case.

The majority of Article 49 is about the treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territory and not about the “Occupying Power” transferring in its own population.  The opening paragraph:

“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons
from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

This paragraph does not relate to Israelis living in EGL for several reasons:

  • The language is about people from the occupied territory, not to the occupied territory.  It underscores the flagrant illegal eviction of Jews from Judea and Samaria by the Jordanians in 1949.
  • As the Arabs living in EGL were not forcibly transferred to any country, Israel did nothing counter to this law.

The next paragraphs deal with exceptions to the main directive stated above for military reasons:

“Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.”

  • The law permits operations involving security.  This clause allows the building of the security barrier inside the West Bank that Israel erected in reaction to the Second Intifada, and relocation of people impacted to construct such barrier.

 “The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated. The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations
as soon as they have taken place. The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.”

  • These paragraphs seek to protect people, even in the case of a necessary evacuation.  The only Arabs that Israel moved out of the West Bank were people who were arrested and therefore not relevant to this clause.

As seen above, almost the entirety of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention has to do with the local population- in this case, a theoretical transfer of Arabs out of EGL/Judea and Samaria/West Bank.  Only the last paragraph addresses the civilians of an “Occupying Power”.

 “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own
civilian population
into the territory it occupies.”

  • Israelis moving and living in EGL/J&S do so of their own free will.  The government does not “deport or transfer its own civilians” to EGL.
  • The “territory” in question, Judea and Samaria, was settled by Jews long before the Jordanians occupied the area and evicted the Jews. As such, Jews were part of the indigenous population before being illegally evicted in 1949. Returning to the region is in keeping with Article 49’s goal above stating “Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.
  • Additionally, this territory was never a distinct country, but part and parcel of the Mandate of Palestine which specifically called for “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”  As such, Jews moving to Judea and Samaria is part of the ongoing provision established internationally in 1922.

The Hague Regulations

Another law that people contend relates to Israel’s administration of EGL/West Bank is Article 55 of the Hague Regulations:

 “Art. 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.”

This rule clearly affirms Israel’s role as administrator for public lands.  The Hague regulations – and this provision in particular – deal with situations that are temporary in nature, and are impractical for those that last for decades.  To wit, the Arab population in the West Bank has grown four times since 1967, in one of the largest population increases on the planet. New infrastructure was established to accommodate the growth in the region, and Israel authorized these new homes, roads and other infrastructure, thereby necessitating a change to public lands.

In terms of minimizing the changes to public lands, it is unclear whether the role of Israel is to maintain a status quo according to the laws of Jordan, which illegally seized and annexed the area, or to administer the region according to British laws which had an international mandate before the Jordanians took control.

  • The Jordanians took this area in an offensive war against Israel in 1948-9
  • The Jordanian annexation in 1950 was never recognized by the United Nations
  • The area in question was part of the internationally approved British Mandate of Palestine (from 1922-1948).

Therefore, to comply with Article 55 above, which rules were appropriate for Israel to maintain: the illegal occupying Jordanian laws of 1949-1967 or those accorded in international law in the British Mandate 1922-1948?

If the British laws regarding property were to be maintained, then those laws state that no person should be forbidden to live in any part of the entirety of the Mandate (including Gaza, Israel and the West Bank) on the basis of religion, per Article 15 of that 1922 Mandate:

“The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.”

As it relates to the use of public lands (which is the focus of Article 55 of the Hague Regulations), the British Mandate clearly states that public land is to be used for Jewish settlement:

“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 co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”

Administration under British law encouraged Jews to live throughout Judea and Samaria, including state lands, and it can therefore not be illegal for any Jew to live there.

The only possibility that Jews moving to and living in the West Bank could be considered illegal, was if Jordanian law was to be maintained in the area.  However, even if one were to assume that despite the Jordanian’s forcible seizure and illegal annexation of the area, that their laws should still be maintained, could any law possibly suggest that it be a requirement to maintain particular laws that were flagrant violations of the Geneva Convention such as the racist Jordanian laws that evicted and barred Jews from living in the land?

Even further, if Israeli actions of Jews moving to EGL/West Bank were somehow considered illegal (which is not the case), Article 3 of the Hague Resolution states that a “belligerent party which violates the provisions of the said Regulations shall, if the case demands, be liable to pay compensation,” so remedy would be a fine, not eviction of the Jews.

(Also note that Hague Regulation Article 40, specifically gave Israel the right to attack Jordan after Jordan broke the 1949 armistice agreement in 1967.)

United Nations Reinterpretation for Israel

Since 1967, the United Nations crafted various resolutions condemning Israel for a wide variety of perceived “sins” such as the infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution in 1975.  Many resolutions have inverted the meaning of the Geneva Convention such as a UN Security Council Resolution in 1980 which “Deplor[es] the decision of the Government of Israel to officially support Israeli settlement in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967.”  It continued further:

“[A]ll measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have
no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the
Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive,
just and lasting peace in the Middle East;”

Arguing that “new immigrants” (many of whom were actually returning residents from 1949) are a threat to the security of the existing population is xenophobia at its most extreme.  Arguing that is a “flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention” is disproved above.

Status of Jerusalem

The inclusion of Jerusalem in the United Nations attacks on Israel is telling.  Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem were planned to be an international “Holy Basin” according to the UN 1947 Partition Plan – neither Arab nor Israeli.  After Jordan attacked Israel and seized the eastern half of Jerusalem and annexed it, the United Nations remained silent.  The UN issued no declaration against the Jordanian invasion and land grab for the entire period it held the territory through 1967.  However, when Israel took control of Jerusalem and later annexed it in 1980, the United Nations went on tirades about the illegal nature of Israel’s authority. The UN’s motions are absurd and duplicitous in granting tacit approval to the Jordanian Arab illegal annexation of Jerusalem and condemning Israel for its annexation. If Jordan’s offensive war to take a planned international city was viewed as permissible, how can Israel’s defensive war be viewed any less so?

The ongoing dynamic in Jerusalem is also different than the rest of EGL/West Bank since the eastern part of the city was annexed by Israel and all of the residents were offered citizenship (almost all of the Arabs declined and took residency papers instead). As such, clauses in international law about offering citizenship to people are not applicable to the eastern half of Jerusalem (while still relevant in the remainder of EGL/West Bank).

As reviewed above, Israel abides by the global rules of international law relating to Jews living in EGL.  However, the United Nations reinterpretation of law solely as it relates to Israel – whether for national movements like Zionism, or for allowing Jews to move and live freely like other peoples in lands they lived in for thousands of years – is not law, but anti-Semitism.


Fourth Geneva Convention:

Hague Resolution:

Hague Resolution Article 3:

Hague Resolution Article 40: “Any serious violation of the armistice by one of the parties gives the other party the right of denouncing it, and even, in cases of urgency, of recommencing hostilities immediately.

British Mandate of Palestine:

Israel-Jordan Armistice agreement:

UN Security Council Resolution 465 (1980):

UN Security Council Resolution 476 (1980) attacking Israel on Jerusalem:

UN call that Zionism is racism (1975):

FirstOneThrough article on the Green Line:

FirstOneThrough article on Judea and Samaria/ West Bank terminology:

Summary of US administrations attitudes towards Israeli settlements: