‘Dwelling on legal positions doesn’t advance peace’

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By Sarah N. Stern

In 2004, the famous dissident and former Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky devised the “3 D Test” for anti-Semitism. He argued that legitimate criticism of any particular policy of a country is free and legitimate speech, but when any of these 3-D conditions are met, in regard to Israel, it crosses over into anti-Semitism. Those famous 3 Ds are delegitimization, demonization and double standards.


In actuality, the way that the international community has been treating Israel, the one state of the Jews, has easily met the criteria for anti-Semitism.

That is up until Monday. Allow me to explain:

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I have often asked historians and scholars throughout the world and of all political persuasions if they could think of single example, other than that of the state of Israel, of a nation that has been attacked and won two separate wars, both in self-defense, and had then been asked to give up the land that it won.

No one could think of a single example other than Israel.


One noted historian claimed, “In normal circumstances, wars are how borders have been determined. To the victors go the spoils. The spoils of World War I is what led the European colonial powers to carve up the map of the Middle East and create the borders that we recognize today.”

The thing about international law is that certain articles are constantly invoked as though they are sacrosanct, while others are completely and totally ignored.

In fact, at the San Remo Conference on April 25, 1920, the boundaries of “Palestine,” including all of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, were given to the Jewish people. This resolution drafted by the four principal powers of World War I, Britain, France, Italy and Japan, is the basic document upon which the Mandate for Palestine and the Jewish National Home was constructed.

It was voted upon unanimously on July 24, 1922, by the League of Nations. It has never been formerly superseded or revoked at any international gathering. Yet, it has been largely ignored.

What has been constantly invoked has been a misreading of UN Resolution 242, which came about as a result of Israel’s victory during the 1967 war. UN Resolution 242 never says Israel is obligated to give up all the land that it was forced to conquer in its defensive war of 1967.

The exclusion of the definitive article “the” meant Israel was never asked to withdraw from all the territories.

Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco later commented, “I was engaged in the negotiations for months of that resolution. That resolution did not say “total withdrawal.”

In fact, President Lyndon Johnson declared that “an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4 (before the outbreak of the 1967 War), “was not a prescription for peace, but for renewed hostilities.” “What was needed,” he said, “are recognized boundaries that would provide security against terror, destruction and war.”

A return to the 1967 boundaries would make Israel no more than nine miles wide at its narrowest waist, and would make its borders simply indefensible.

This is particularly important when looking at the volatile map of the Middle East today, with Iran trying to make a pincer grasp around Israel from its north and its south, and with Iranian-backed terror groups trying to attack Israel from both inside and outside its borders.

Yet, many nations of the world, who would never allow themselves to be put into such a vulnerable position, make these unrealistic demands on the Jewish state.

This accounts for the double standards that the international community uses against Israel, a criteria of the anti-Semitism test that has certainly been reached.

And the constant repetition of this basic falsehood regarding Resolution 242, and its maximal demands on Israel, has been one of the ways that the international community has demonized Israel, and eventually delegitimized Israel in the eyes of many.

Various administrations have had differing interpretations of the legality of the settlements. However, until the end of the Obama administration, previous administrations had been careful not to weigh in, but felt that it was an issue to be negotiated between the parties.

Said Secretary Pompeo, “They wisely and prudently recognized that dwelling on legal positions didn’t advance peace. However, in December 2016, at the very end of the previous administration, Secretary [of State John] Kerry changed decades of this careful, bipartisan approach publicly reaffirming the supposed illegality of settlements.”

He added, “We are not addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank. This is for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. International law does not compel a particular outcome, nor create any legal obstacle to a negotiated resolution.”

This honest appraisal of international law constitutes the most powerful argument possible against what lies at the very heart of the current scourge of anti-Semitism, which is the demonization, double standards and delegitimization of the state of Israel— the one Jew among nations.

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, in Washington.

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