This week saw the first report about the Levy Report on settlements in Judea and Samaria, a/k/a “The West Bank.” The Levy Report made clear: Jewish settlements in that region are perfectly legal and do not break either international or Israeli law. American officials don’t want the government of Israel to accept that report, much less act on it. They have no more chance of stopping them than King Canute had of stopping the tide.
The Levy Report in detail
The government has already published the Levy Report, and even translated it into English. The Levy Report says that the situation in Judea and Samaria is not only unique but one-of-a-kind. Simply put, Jews lived in that land for centuries before the Jordanians annexed the region and kicked the Jews out. Furthermore, only Pakistan recognized what Jordan did as legal.
In 1967, Jordan attacked Israel after it mistook returning Israel Air Force planes for Egyptian planes. The Israel Defense Forces not only pushed back but also pushed the Jordanians completely out of Judea and Samaria. The IDF has administered those lands ever since, but has had to contend with the United Nations Relief Works Agency. That agency is the only refugee program ever invented with a self-perpetuating mission.
The Levy Report said that the “classical laws of occupation” do not apply to Jewish settlements in the region. Neither does the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. CNAV has already discussed the reasons for this. The most important one is: never once did the government of Israel draft any Jew to settle in Judea or Samaria, nor sentence any Jew to “exile” in those lands. That is what the Nazis did in the lands they occupied. That is what the Fourth Convention expressly forbids.
The Levy Report criticized the government’s settlement policy in only one basic way: it told the government to make up its mind whether to let people settle there or not, make it official, and stand by it.The rest of the report gives detailed ways to say where a given settlement stands under the law, depending on how the settlers set it up, how they got the land (and from whom), etc. But the report has one basic thrust: let them settle!
History of Judea and Samaria
Jerrold Auerbach (New York Sun) sums up brilliantly the history of Jews in Judea and Samaria. He points out that the original British Mandate, and the League of Nations, both guaranteed the rights of the Jews to settle there. Those instruments are still in force and effect. Even the UN recognizes them, and has never officially ended them.
To be more specific: in the early twentieth century, Palestine and Palestinian referred to Jews, not Arabs. Arabs hijacked the word Palestine for themselves after the Six-day War. They never expected to lose it, of course.
The history of the name Palestine is much longer, and shameful. In 135 AD, Emperor Hadrian of Rome sent several legions to quell the revolt of Simon bar Kochva, who pretended to be the long-sought Messiah. (He wasn’t, of course.) Hadrian then scattered the Jews throughout his Empire (the Diaspora), as Shalmaneser V did to the Ten Lost Tribes, and as Nebuchadnezzar II did to the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Hadrian then called the country Palaestina. Which is Latin for Philistia or Philistim. That name (from which comes the English name Philistine) literally means “Land of the Invaders.”
But the Philistines that Hadrian might have thought of were not Arabs. They were the Caphthorites, who came from Crete and displaced the Avvites that had lived in the Gaza region in Abraham and Isaac’s day. These Caphthorites worshiped a god in the shape of a walking fish (Dagon). They captured Samson (and lost 3,000 people when he brought the Temple of Dagon down on their heads, and his). They captured the Ark of the Covenant, and then had to give it back after their people came down with outbreaks of cancer and possibly bubonic plague. (See Samuel chapter 5.) And eventually Nebuchadnezzar wiped them out.
The present Arabs, who call themselves Palestinians, descend from Arab migrant workers. They moved into the land after the first Zionist settlers reclaimed the desert and swamp land that they bought from Ottoman absentee landlords. And the British gave them a homeland: a land they called “Transjordan,” or across the Jordan. Jordan, of course, is under the control of Hashemite Bedouins.
It is with these, and not with the Jews, that the “Palestinians” have any quarrel. More to the point: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan renounced all claim to Judea and Samaria in 1996. In that year they signed a treaty with Israel. That treaty sets the western boundaries of Jordan as the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers, and the Arab Wadi, from south of Ein Gedi to east of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba.
The demographic issue
Old-guard politicians in Israel have always feared that, if Israel simply annexed Judea and Samaria, the Arabs would out-breed and eventually out-vote them. Shimon Peres, who took over the ceremonial presidency of Israel from Chaim Herzog, still thinks that way.Yesterday he told mourners for Benjamin Herzl, the Zionist pioneer, that settlements in the West Bank would cause Jews to lose their majority in Israel.
Other politicians immediately said that Peres was wrong to say that or even think it. Tzvi Ben Gedelyahu wrote in Arutz-7 that the Jews have been outbreeding the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. And they have done so despite Netanyahu unofficially freezing settlements in those regions. Ben Gedelyahu obviously hopes that the Levy Report will lead the government to unfreeze settlements.
Ted Belman (Israpundit) expects the government to do just that.
US Afraid of Levy Report
The US State Department does not want the government to adopt the Levy Report. Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said:
We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.
Two things work together to give the State Department its current attitude:
- The State Department’s “careerists” have been pro-Arab and anti-Israel since before the Israel War for Independence. That culture has never changed.
- Barack H. Obama is the most thoroughly anti-Israel (nominal) President in history.
But the State Department cannot cite a single treaty or convention that calls the settlements illegal. The Levy Report demolishes all the habitual arguments. Furthermore, as Belman (see above) says, US Presidents since Reagan have never said that settlements were illegal. They have called them “ill-advised,” but never illegal. And they have (so far) thwarted any UN resolution calling them illegal.
Belman also cites report after report that, long ago, said the same things that the Levy Report says today. Julius Stone’s words should be answer enough to those who say that when a Jew goes to live in the West Bank, the government of Israel has “transferred” him there within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
The terms of Article 49(6) [of the Fourth Geneva Convention] however they are interpreted, are submitted to be totally irrelevant. To render them relevant, we would have to say that the effect of Article 49(6) is to impose an obligation on the state of Israel to ensure (by force if necessary) that these areas, despite their millennial association with Jewish life, shall be forever judenrein.
That last word is German for “a Jew-free zone.” The Jordanians made that happen before. The Levy Report says that will not happen again.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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