Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adopt Levy's outpost report

Adopt Levy's outpost report

Dror Eydar

The Israeli media has finally taken notice of the report compiled by the committee that examined the legal status of outposts in Judea and Samaria, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy. Most of the Israeli media has ignored the report so far, even though here at Israel Hayom the report made the front page last Wednesday. Earlier this week, the left-wing mouthpieces within the media finally remembered to get up in arms about it. Precisely as we predicted last week, Orwell's Ministry of Truth launched its usual salvo.

The first leftist interviewee was "prime suspect" Talia Sasson — whose 2005 report maintaining that outposts are illegal has now been refuted. Suddenly, Levy's committee is being called "political" and his report is being described as expressing Levy's own "dissenting opinion on Israel's withdrawal from Gaza" (when he was a minority of one against ten other justices in 2005), and "contrary to the Supreme Court rulings of the last 45 years." Even Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer has been taken out of storage and dusted off so that he could point out Levy's fellow committee member, international law expert Dr. Alan Baker, as a political figure. And of course: "the committee was appointed at the behest of the Right." How could we not have that one?

The daily Haaretz came out with a scary headline, claiming that Levy's outpost report was "getting Israel in trouble with the entire world." The sub headline stated that "legal experts are warning against the implications of the report compiled by the Levy committee." Yikes! This is reminiscent of the frightening headlines warning of a political tsunami and other such empty warnings. And who are the "legal experts" that Haaretz cites? The same fringe group that they always cite: Talia Sasson, human rights attorney Michael Sfard and so on. Oh, and left-wing, pro-Palestinian Israeli organizations, too. Oh well.

It was amusing to hear the remarks made by leftist radio hosts, who have been conditioned by the left-wing tribe's tired paradigm, when they suddenly discovered another legitimate point of view. The responses ranged from "it cannot be" to "it is very far-reaching" all the way to the ultimate argument: "But the Supreme Court ruled that it is occupied territory!"

Of course this is all nonsense. We already explained last week that applying the "belligerent occupation" law to Judea and Samaria fails to take the territory's status into account; it only takes into account Israel's behavior toward the civilian population living there. The word occupation does not apply because Israel did not conquer this land from another people. That is why this is "disputed land" — under negotiation and debate — where we, too, have claims.

As early as the 1970s, jurist Stephen Schwebel (one of the world's most renowned international law experts who served as the head of the International Court of Justice in Hague) suggested that Israel's claim to the territories it won in the 1967 Six-Day War was justified. Schwebel based his argument on the fact that Israel's fighting in 1967 was in self-defense, and since the danger that prompted the war still exists, Israel is justified in retaining these territories (even if they aren't fully annexed) until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved with a peace agreement.

Schwebel argued further that since Jordan, which held the territory before Israel, had illegally taken over the land (and indeed, the world did not recognize Jordan's rule in Judea and Samaria), the country that won the territory through self-defense has more right to the land than the previous holder. Similar opinions have been expressed by Professor Elihu Lauterpacht of Cambridge University, former dean of Yale Law School Professor Eugene Rostow, and many others.

But why does any of this matter? The reason the Israeli Left rejects Judea and Samaria is not because of the Palestinian population there, nor is it due to international law. This denial of the cradle of our nationhood stems from the fundamental issue that has driven the Jews crazy for two hundred years: our identity. Can an Israeli make peace with the Jew within him? Judea and Samaria are the ultimate identifiers of the ancient Jewish identity and the religious ideas that are interwoven into our national experience. They symbolize the very things that the some groups in the Israeli liberal elite view as "irrational" or "messianic" or "religious" or "fundamentalist" or any other term that suggests psycho-political hysteria at the sight of the majority in Israel reconciling with its ancient religious identity.

But the current government was elected precisely to bring about this historic reconciliation. Therefore, we must ignore the usual yelling and hollering and display courage and faith by adopting Levy's report. We must thereby declare that the State of Israel has clung to the Land of Israel, including all the deep symbolism inherent in such a declaration. That is the only path to our survival.