Will Israel Have A ‘King’ Soon? The Modern-Day Sanhedrin Say “YES!”

Will Israel Have A ‘King’ Soon? The Modern-Day Sanhedrin Say “YES!”
from Yaakov Katz
THE JERUSALEM POST – January 12, 2005

Will Jews begin proclaiming “Long live the king” in the near future?

According to a group of 71 Jewish scholars who met this week in the Old City of Jerusalem in the form of a modern-day Sanhedrin “a duplicate of the religious tribunal which convened during the time of the Second Temple” a coronation day is growing closer.

As one member of the group put it, “We would have liked it to happen yesterday. But we are willing to wait until tomorrow.”

There hasn’t been a genuine Sanhedrin in Israel for nearly 1,600 years; the last one to be proclaimed was in France, by Napoleon, for political gain. Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, religious affairs minister Judah Leib Maimon raised the notion of reinstituting the ancient body, to no avail.

The group composed largely of Kahane sympathizers that gave itself the name Sanhedrin in October, however, met Sunday to discuss the creation of a Jewish monarchy in the State of Israel.

For the past several years a group called the Monarchists has conducted extensive research into the lineage of several families in an effort to discover who has the closest bloodline to the biblical King David — a requirement for any future Jewish king.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan from Psagot, known for his recent threats to place a death curse on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is said to be a leading candidate to become the “king of Israel.”

“Dayan has the best lineage to King David,” several members of the Sanhedrin told The Jerusalem Post. They say he has two documented ancient sources which draw a direct line between him and the males in his family to King David some 3,000 years ago.

“Many people can show they are descendants of King David, but they cannot show that the line is only male,” one Sanhedrin member explained. “That makes Dayan the leading candidate to become king.”

The Monarchists have consulted with non-Jewish experts on lineage. They concurred that, without a doubt, Dayan is a direct descendent of the House of David.

The only question now is how to establish the Jewish monarchy in spite of the presiding democratic government.

“There are two possibilities,” Dayan explained. “The first is that the nation or a majority from within will want the monarchy and will uproot the presiding democratic government.”

The second, more realistic option, he said, is “the one cited by Maimonides” and that is that no one will know how it will be until it happens.”

Some of the other ideas discussed at the Sanhedrin meeting included the construction of an altar on the Temple Mount to be used for the Passover Offering during the upcoming holiday.

One of the ideas, members said, is to climb the Mount and build the altar within minutes and sacrifice the lamb before security forces can stop them. Another, said leading Sanhedrin member Baruch Ben-Yosef, is to pray for a tsunami-like disaster on the Mount.

“In one second, God wiped out 150,000 people,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe he’ll help us if we show him we are ready.”

Participants also discussed Ben-Yosef’s idea of reinstating the Sanhedrin’s authority to announce Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the new lunar month.

“It is very important to reinstate the Sanhedrin’s authority to announce the month, because it will force people to understand that God gave us the power to control the calendar and our own destiny,” Ben-Yosef said.

* * * * * * *

Background on the Sanhedrin

“Sanhedrin” – (m., pl. “Sanhedriyaot”) – 1. the Jewish “Supreme Court;” it consisted of seventy one great Torah Sages, who met in the “Lishkat HaGazit,” the “Office of Hewn Stone,” adjacent to the Temple in Jerusalem; 2. The Masechta, or Folio of the Talmud that discusses the activities of the Sanhedrin, and related matters.

The Rabbis who were the members of the Sanhedrin had all received “Semichah,” the formal passing over of the Tradition from their teachers.

On the floor of the Sanhedrin were debated the fundamental principles of the Torah, and the result was established by majority vote.

Cases that were the most difficult or the most critical for the Jewish People were decided by the Sanhedrin. A majority had to be at least two votes. Any Capital case in which all the votes were for condemnation, was automatically changed to acquittal.

There is discussion in the Talmud of the question of how frequently capital punishment was imposed by the Sanhedrin, although the Torah does explicitly allow for it. Some said that a Sanhedrin that imposed the death penalty once in seven years was considered “bloody;” another opinion is that it was seventy years. Another said that it depended on the generation. Yet another was that restraint in imposing the death penalty would increase the number of murderers in Israel.

After the Temple was destroyed, the Sanhedrin moved from place to place in Israel. It finally was dissolved when, in the absence of the greatest Sages of Israel, the Institution of Semichah could no longer be applied.

During the Middle Ages, there was an attempt to revive the Sanhedrin by re-instituting Semichah. But due to opposition by some of the Torah Sages of that generation, the idea never became a reality.

The Sanhedrin was reestablished in a ceremony in Tiberias, where the original Sanhedrin was disbanded, on October, 2004 (Tishrei 5765).

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Philanthropist calls for archive to lead to better relations

Point of No Return

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Philanthropist calls for archive to lead to better relations

With the Iraqi-Jewish archive poised to return to Iraq in September 2018, businessman and philanthropist David A Dangoor makes a plea in JNS News for the archive to be a bridge-builder for normalising relations between Arabs and Jews and restoring the rights of Iraqi Jews. It does not matter to him where the archive ends up as long as Jews have access to it.

David A Dangoor commissioned the film Remember Baghdad

The answer to what happens next should lie in not whose property it is, but where would it be best preserved and provide access for all, especially in its potential use as a gateway towards better relations between Jews and Arabs.

Between 1950 and 1952, approximately 130,000 Iraqi Jews were airlifted to Israel, where they became fully integrated into the country despite their arrival with no assets. This constituted around 75 percent of the total Iraqi Jewish community at the time. While the creation of the State of Israel was the proximate driver, the Jewish community, which had been living in many places around Iraq, had already been traumatized by the Nazi-directed troubles in the early 1940s that highlighted the need for a safe haven, which Israel now represented.

Those of us who remained behind subsequently fled in the ensuing years—after the Iraqi government stripped us of our citizenship, property and business interests—to places like the United Kingdom.

Many of us, despite how it ended, look back fondly on our lives in Iraq and are deeply proud of our more than three-millennia sojourn there. Some of the greatest rabbis, scholars and artists enriched not only world Jewry with their work, but the non-Jewish world around them.

Arabic was our mother tongue, our culture and a strong part of our identity. Iraq is still in our blood and in our bones. It’s like a distant bell ringing in the back of our heads, always reminding us where we came from.

For those, like for me, Baghdad is the formation of our identity.

To be a Jew is sometimes to be a bridge to the past, but I believe that we can also serve as bridges to the future.

In the Iraq where I was raised, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Sunni or Shia worked, learned, sang and danced together. We lived side by side in peace and harmony.

I believe that while the Jewish community there is no more, perhaps the Iraqi Jewish Archive can serve as a new conduit between peoples, nations and religions.

With ISIS finally expelled from Iraq, this could be an auspicious time for Jews of Iraqi origins to rebuild ties with our former country, and for the leaders of the Republic of Iraq to provide gestures of reconciliation to its Diaspora Jewish community.

We hope it could begin with ensuring the Jewish character of holy sites such as the Prophet Ezekiel and Ezra the Scribe, and that the cemeteries of our families and ancestors are well-maintained. Most of all, we hope to be provided with visas to visit Iraq, or better still, to have our passports and citizenship returned and restored.

I know I speak for many when I say I would love to travel to Iraq to see my family home on the banks of the Tigris and visit the places in my dreams of childhood.

For that to happen, there would need to be a complete change in the way the people and government of Iraq viewed people of different faiths. There would need to be a genuine desire to welcome them, treat them with care and consideration, and respect their national aspirations—something now common in many parts of the world.

If this were to be achieved, it would matter less where the archive resided because we would have access to it. Perhaps an agreement could be formulated whereby the archive would also be on display at various locations, allowing this collection of artifacts to educate and inform others.

For Jews and non-Jews around the world, this could serve as a testament to the good relations that Jews and Arabs shared in the past, and serve as a point of entry in exploring how these ties could become strong and vibrant once again.

To Iraqis, the archive communicates the long-standing Jewish community that lived among them. They could demystify the tradition and culture of the Jewish people in the hopes of exploding certain myths and as a point of greater engagement.

I call on all those who are involved in the issue not to use the Iraqi Jewish Archive as a point of division, but instead, as a point of unity and harmony. Not to hide the materials away in the dark, but to allow the artifacts to shine a light in informing the world about how Jews and Arabs are not so very different. About how we can and should live side by side.

Let these artifacts inspire and not discourage relationships, so that we can regain aspirations of a better future for all the peoples of the region.


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RE: the Iraqi Jewish Archive

Dear Mr. Hummasti:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Iraqi Jewish Archive. I appreciate hearing from you. It is the valuable opinions and suggestions that I receive from my constituents, like you, that help me better serve Oregonians.

Please be assured that if this issue comes before me in the Senate, I will keep your views in mind. Again, thank you for keeping me apprised of the issues that are important to you. If I may be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Ron Wyden

United States Senator

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‘Jerusalem is not holy to Muslims, enough with this lie!’

ZOA President Klein debunks the myth that Jerusalem is holy to Muslims, calls on listeners to spread the truth.

Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein spoke on Thursday night at the National Council of Young Israel’s annual dinner, debunking the myth that Jerusalem is holy to Muslims.

“Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, under King David, 3,000 years ago,” Klein said. “It was never, ever, the capital of any other nation except Israel. When the Arabs conquered Palestine in 716, they made Ramla their capital, not Jerusalem.”

“The Jewish holy books mention Jerusalem 700 times. it is never, ever mentioned in the Quran. Even about Mohammed allegedly going from Jerusalem to heaven, in the Quran…this is described as a dream. He simply has a dream, and it says he went ‘from the farthest place to heaven.’ … And the nearest place, in the Quran, is Palestine. So clearly, it was not from Jerusalem.”

Klein also noted that the Arabs, historically, have not cared enough to invest in Jerusalem.

“When the Arabs controlled Jerusalem from 1948-1967, when Jordan controlled it, they built everything of importance in Amman, not in Jerusalem,” he said. “They allowed it to be a slum. There was no water, no electricity, no plumbing there. They destroyed the 58 synagogues in eastern Jerusalem.”

Calling on his listeners to help debunk the lies, Klein said, “We must now tell everyone: It is not holy to Muslims, enough with this lie! Enough with the lie of occupation, there is no occupation, this is Jewish land, enough of the lie that settlements are the reason we have no peace. Settlements comprise 2% of all Judea and Samaria, there hasn’t been a single new settlement built since 1993.”

Slamming both the media and world leaders, he added, “All we get from the media, and even from leaders around the world, are lies, lies, and lies about Israel.”

“Unlike politicians, G-d keeps His promises. And with the help of Almighty G-d and with the help of the Israel Defense Forces, the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) will prevail and will survive forever,” he concluded.

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Petition against PLO – RE: Sokolow vs. PLO

‘Petition against PLO doesn’t meet standard for review by court’

Trump administration ‘deeply sympathizes’ with victims in PLO terror lawsuit, but suit doesn’t meet standards for review by Supreme Court.

The Trump administration in a statement said it “sympathizes deeply” with the families whose lawsuit against the Palestine Liberation Organization may soon be considered by the Supreme Court, but continues to maintain that the lawsuit does not meet the standards for review by the court.

“The United States condemns acts of terror in the strongest terms and the Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting those who commit terrorist attacks against innocent human beings to the fullest extent that the law allows,” read a statement emailed this week to JTA by a Justice Department spokeswoman.

“The United States sympathizes deeply with the American families who, in 2004, sued the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization for acts of terrorism committed against their loved ones between 2002 and 2004,” the statement said. “The court of appeals decided, however, that the suit was not consistent with due process under the Constitution, and its decision does not meet the usual standards for Supreme Court review.”

The Supreme Court will say by March 29 whether it will consider the appeal by the litigants in the case known as Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization. The plaintiffs won $656 million in a 2015 federal jury verdict, but it was overturned a year later by an appellate court.

A filing by the solicitor general last month siding with the PLO drew angry rebukes from conservatives, including some of the Trump administration’s most steadfast Jewish community defenders.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco supported the appellate court’s finding in a Supreme Court filing last month, mostly on technical grounds.

The lead plaintiff, Mark Sokolow, his wife and two of his daughters were injured in a Jerusalem suicide bombing in 2002 that killed an 81-year-old man. His fellow plaintiffs are families of victims of terrorist attacks in Israel that killed 33, including several Americans, and wounded over 450. Their suit argued that the late PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat had paid attackers and their families.

The plaintiffs this week filed a response to the solicitor general. It argued that the Supreme Court should consider the case if only because it is undergirded by a law passed by Congress in 1992 specifically targeting perpetrators of terrorist attacks overseas, the Anti-Terrorism Act.

“The Anti-Terrorism Act is an important, thoughtfully considered, congressional effort to defend United States citizens from international terrorism,” the filing said. “At the very minimum, this law is entitled to consideration in this Court in the face of the Second Circuit’s constitutional decision stripping it of its core purpose and meaning.”

Lawmakers in Congress from both parties have urged the Trump administration to back the plaintiffs.

“Congress passed the Antiterrorism Act to hold accountable dangerous entities for acts of terrorism,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader, said in a statement emailed this week to JTA.

“In the case of Mark Sokolow, the judge and jury found the Palestinian Authority and the PLO guilty in the heinous attack that maimed and killed dozens, including our fellow Americans,” Schumer said. “Despite this, the Trump administration has urged the Supreme Court to not take up this case – a move that goes against the well-decided verdict that would hold accountable the Palestinian Authority and PLO for this repugnant terror attack.”

The Zionist Organization of America, a group that has come to the defense of President Donald Trump when he and some of his top staffers have been accused of insensitivity toward Jews, has been at the forefront of expressions of outrage at the solicitor general’s filing. The Trump administration’s argument “hurts the American terror victims, aids and comforts terrorists, and makes them less concerned about facing consequences for their hideous actions,” said a March 7 statement.

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‘Lost Jews’ Of Colombia Say They’ve Found Their Roots

Latin America
‘Lost Jews’ Of Colombia Say They’ve Found Their Roots

December 20, 2012 4:36 PM ET
Heard on NPR’s All Things Considered

Juan Forero

Many members of the Jewish community in Bello, Colombia, were raised as Christians. They believe their ancestors were Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition, and so they are now Orthodox Jews. Here, a boy reaches out to the 120-year-old Torah that was written in Amsterdam and acquired by the community five years ago.

They are called “crypto-Jews” or “lost Jews,” and in recent years they have emerged in remote places as scattered as India, Brazil, the American Southwest and here in Colombia.

They were raised as Christians but believe they have discovered hidden Jewish roots, prompting many to return to Judaism. Many say their ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain more than 500 years ago, as the Spanish crown embarked on a systematic persecution of Jews.

Fleeing for their safety, some wound up in the rugged northwest of Colombia, a region of tradition-bound towns long associated with fervent Catholicism.

But these days, at the small, whitewashed synagogue in Bello, a working-class town next to Medellin, dozens of men and women chant prayers in Hebrew.

Their leader, Elad Villegas, 36, says he and others had long felt a bond to Judaism, one they began to explore a few years ago.

“It was like our souls had memory,” he says. “It awakened in us a desire to learn more: Who were we? Where were we from? Where are the roots of our families?”

The inescapable pull of their ancestors, people in Bello say, led dozens of families that had belonged to an evangelical church to join Villegas as he began the long and difficult conversion to Judaism.

Some of them, like Meyer Sanchez, 37, say it was not easy, particularly the arduous conversion to Orthodox Judaism.

“It’s about showing dedication, lots of dedication, to study the prayers, learn to read Hebrew,” says Sanchez. “You have to sacrifice other things, like time with your wife, time with your family, and other things you may like, video games and music.”

Tracing Their Ancestry To Spain

Hundreds of years ago, on the Iberian Peninsula, Jews converted to Christianity to cloak their real identities. The Inquisition was at the height of its fury. They were known as Marranos, or Anusim, and some eventually made their way to Colombia, a country not known for its Jewish culture. Today, only about 7,000 Jews live here, spread across six cities.

“These people, the Anusim, would inevitably flee to those locations,” says Michael Freund, who directs Shavei Israel, a group in Jerusalem that helps hidden Jewish communities. “They were usually among the first to do so, in an effort to get as far away from the Inquisition as possible.”

In Colombia, the converted Jews founded towns and gave them biblical names, like Jerico. And some of the given names they handed down point to a Jewish past.

“They are people who call themselves Catholic but have names like Isaac, Ruben, Moises, Israel, Gabriel,” says Memo Anjel, a professor at the Bolivarian University in Medellin who has studied the region’s Jewish past. “And then there are also the women’s names — Ruth, Lia, Clara, Martha, Rebecca.”

With the years, they assimilated and their historical consciousness subsided — though that was not the case for everyone, says Freund.

“There are still people there who cling to the remnants of that memory and cling to what is left of that identity, and now want to make it their own,” he says.

Formerly A Christian Evangelical

Ezra Rodriguez, 33, is one of those who sought to connect with his past.

Though initially a Christian evangelical, he’d long wondered about Jewish ancestors, in part because of nearly imperceptible rituals he saw among older family members.

“Before I converted, when I began to study Judaism and Jewish traditions, I began to notice those things in my family,” says Rodriguez, who spoke on a recent afternoon as his son, 4-year-old Yoetzel, played in an apartment decorated with pictures of Orthodox Jews praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

“My grandparents had unusual customs even though they called themselves Catholic,” Rodriguez says.

They refused to eat pork, for instance. His grandfather would also wear a hat at all times, even in church.

And in the countryside where they were from, there were other signs of Judaism. Like the ponchos the farmers wore, with their untied four corners. They’re nearly indistinguishable from the prayer shawls — the tallits — worn by devout Jewish men.

There were also old homes that contained mikvahs — baths used by Jews for ritual cleansings.

There is another piece of tantalizing evidence about the region’s Jewish roots, one discovered in 2000.

That was when the University of Antioquia did a study that showed that 14 percent of the men in the state had genetic markers in their Y chromosome that showed an ancestral tie to the Cohanim, a priestly Jewish cast that goes back three millennia to Moses’ brother, Aaron.

Geneticist Gabriel Bedoya explains that there are other genetic markers he did not study that might also demonstrate Jewish heritage.

“There should be even more Jewish ancestry here,” says Bedoya, who wants to carry out another, more extensive study.

These days in Bello, it’s not hard to decipher the Jewish influence — the new Orthodox Jewish influence. Men in skullcaps stroll the streets. The women cover their heads and wear dresses to their knees. There’s an afternoon Hebrew preschool, and a kosher bakery.

The bakery is run by Shlomo Cano, who used to be Rene Cano, when he was a Christian. But he’d visited Israel, and had also played saxophone in a band that performed Jewish songs for Medellin’s traditional Jewish community. And so little by little, he’d started to feel the pull of Judaism. He explains it as a spark, which led him to a new religion that made him feel comfortable.

“It all began to snowball from there,” he says, speaking of his journey to Judaism. These days, he and his family pray daily; on a recent afternoon, his wife, Galit, leads the chants.

They are working hard to raise their small children, Baruj and Gabriela, as observant Jews. Cano says it all feels right to him.

“We’ve discovered our roots,” he says, “and we refuse to disappear.”

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Meet Regina Waldman

Meet Regina Waldman

January 15, 2010
The forgotten refugees

In June 1967, Regina Waldman received a call from her mother telling her not to come home from work. Waldman’s family lived in Libya, part of an ancient Mizrahi Jewish community that had resided in Libya for more than 2,000 years. That changed in 1967, when the Six Day War broke out between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

“My mother called me at work to tell me that thousands of people had taken to the streets rioting and burning Jewish properties,” Waldman recalled. “She begged me to find a hiding place, because it was too dangerous for me to return home. Killing people, rampaging and burning Jewish properties went on for days.”

Waldman, who was 19 at the time, hid in the home of a Christian British engineer for a month before returning to her family.

“All Jews were expelled,” Waldman said, “and their property, including their bank accounts, were expropriated by the government.”

Waldman’s family barely made it out of Libya and fled to Italy, where they still live. Waldman’s experience, however, transformed her into an activist, leading her to advocate for human rights in Argentina, fight for the freedom of Jews in the former Soviet Union and to call for recognition of the plight of Jewish refugees.

“It was almost like an epiphany for me to realize that I could actually use my history as an example to show what intolerance could do to people,” she said.

Waldman has taken it upon herself to help gain recognition for the “900,000 Jewish refugees, dispossessed and uprooted from their homes throughout the Middle East and North Africa.” She heads an organization called Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA), based in San Francisco.

“Very little is known about this particular area of history,” Waldman said, “so we find that people are not just fascinated by the … narrative of Middle Eastern Jews and what happened to us, but also because they’re so completely surprised that Jews themselves don’t even know about it.”

Waldman said there is very good reason why this history has remained buried for so long.

“Israel had a huge number of refugees from the camps in Germany and people who had suffered horrendous experiences through the Holocaust,” she explained, “so when the Jews from North Africa arrived, there was this sense of ‘oh, don’t say anything about what happened to us, we cannot begin to compare ourselves.’”

Waldman also believes that the Israeli government “felt that if they recognized the Jews from these other countries as refugees, then they would have to turn around and also recognize the Palestinians as refugees, which they do today, but they didn’t then.”

The result is that these histories have had little recognition.

“The issue of the Jewish refugees was not really properly recorded, neither by historians, nor by political figures, nor was it ever recognized by international organizations,” she said.

Waldman’s work has been paying off. She has been asked to speak on the behalf of Jewish refugees at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Wellesley, Stanford and Berkeley. In 1992, she was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. In addition to these accomplishments, Waldman testified before the United States Congress in 2007 as an expert witness on the experiences of Jewish refugees.

Waldman has also worked with filmmakers to produce a documentary on the history of the Jewish refugees, The Forgotten Refugees, in which, among other stories, she relates her first experience with hatred: a math teacher asking her class, “If you have 10 Jews and kill five, how many do you have left?”

Although some might consider her controversial due to her position that Jewish refugees deserves recognition just like Palestinian refugees, Waldman doesn’t feel that’s the case.

“The fact that we were absorbed successfully either by Israel or by the countries that hosted us shouldn’t make our plight a lesser plight,” she said. “It is to our credit and to the credit of Israel that, without a single penny from the West, we got absorbed but, nonetheless, we should be recognized as a group of refugees and we were not.”

Her speaking tours have gone a long way to righting this wrong, as her testimonies to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations have shown.

“The Palestinian … issues need to be addressed in whatever right way they can be addressed, but the Jewish refugees’ issues also have to be addressed,” she said. “We need to be given the right that is owed to us, the recognition of the suffering we have gone through.”

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What Is a “Refugee”? The Jews from Morocco versus the Palestinians from Israel

What Is a “Refugee”? The Jews from Morocco versus the Palestinians from Israel

by Alan M. Dershowitz
Gatestone Institute
March 10, 2018 at 3:00 am

The Arab exodus from Israel in 1948 was the direct result of a genocidal war declared against the newly established Jewish state by all of its Arab neighbors, including the Arabs of Israel. Approximately 700,000 local Arabs were displaced.

Approximately the same number of Jews were displaced from their Arab homelands during this period. Nearly all of them could trace their heritage back thousands of years, well before the Muslims and Arabs became the dominant population. The most significant difference is between how Israel dealt with the Jews who were displaced and how the Arab and Muslim word dealt with the Palestinians who had been displaced by a war they started. Israel integrated its brothers and sisters from the Arab and Muslim world. The Arab world put its Palestinian brothers and sisters in refugee camps, treating them as political pawns — and festering sores — in its persistent war against the Jewish state.

The time has come – indeed it is long overdue – for the world to stop treating these Palestinians as refugees. That status ended decades ago. The Jews who came to Israel from Morocco many years ago are no longer refugees. Neither are the relatives of the Palestinians who have lived outside of Israel for nearly three quarters of a century.

A visit to Morocco shows that the claim of Palestinians to a “right of return” has little historic, moral or legal basis.

Jews lived in Morocco for centuries before Islam came to Casablanca, Fez and Marrakesh. The Jews, along with the Berbers, were the backbone of the economy and culture. Now their historic presence can be seen primarily in the hundreds of Jewish cemeteries and abandoned synagogues that are omnipresent in cities and towns throughout the Maghreb.

I visited Maimonides’s home, now a restaurant. The great Jewish philosopher and medical doctor taught at a university in Fez. Other Jewish intellectuals helped shape the culture of North Africa, from Morocco to Algeria to Tunisia to Egypt. In these countries, Jews were always a minority but their presence was felt in every area of life.

Now they are a remnant in Morocco and gone from the other counties. Some left voluntarily to move to Israel after 1948. Many were forced to flee by threats, pogroms and legal decrees, leaving behind billions of dollars in property and the graves of their ancestors.

Today, Morocco’s Jewish population is less than 5,000, as contrasted with 250,000 at its peak. To his credit, King Mohammad VI has made a point of preserving the Jewish heritage of Morocco, especially its cemeteries. He has better relations with Israel than other Muslim countries but still does not recognize Israel and have diplomatic relations with the nation state of the Jewish People. It is a work in progress. His relationship with his small Jewish community, most of whom are avid Zionists, is excellent. Many Moroccans realize that they lost a lot when the Jews of Morocco left. Some Israelis of Moroccan origin, maintain close relations with their Moroccan heritage.

The Jews who came to Israel from Morocco many years ago are no longer refugees. Nor are the Palestinians.

How does this all relate to the Palestinian claim of a right to return to their homes in what is now Israel? Quite directly. The Arab exodus from Israel in 1948 was the direct result of a genocidal war declared against the newly established Jewish state by all of its Arab neighbors, including the Arabs of Israel. If they had accepted the UN peace plan — two states for two people — there would be no Palestinian refugees. In the course of Israel’s fierce battle for its survival — a battle in which it lost one percent of its population, including many Holocaust survivors and civilians — approximately 700,000 local Arabs were displaced. Many left voluntarily, having been promised a glorious return after the inevitable Arab victory. Others were forced out. Some of these Arabs could trace their homes in what became Israel hundreds of years back. Others were relatively recent arrivals from Arab countries such as Syria, Egypt, and Jordan.

Approximately the same number of Jews were displaced from their Arab homelands during this period. Nearly all of them could trace their heritage back thousands of years, well before the Muslims and Arabs became the dominant population. Like the Palestinian Arabs, some left voluntarily, but many had no realistic choice. The similarities are striking, but so are the differences.

The most significant difference is between how Israel dealt with the Jews who were displaced and how the Arab and Muslim world dealt with the Palestinians who had been displaced by a war they started.

Israel integrated its brothers and sisters from the Arab and Muslim world. The Arab world put its Palestinian brothers and sisters in refugee camps, treating them as political pawns — and festering sores — in its persistent war against the Jewish state.

It has now been 70 years since this exchange of populations occurred. It is time to end the deadly charade of calling the displaced Palestinians “refugees.” Almost none of the nearly five million Arabs who now seek to claim the mantle of “Palestinian refugee” was ever actually in Israel. They are the descendants — some quite distant — of those who were actually displaced in 1948. The number of surviving Arabs who were personally forced out of Israel by the war started by their brethren is probably no more a few thousand, probably less. Perhaps they should be compensated, but not by Israel. The compensation should come from Arab countries that illegally seized the assets of their erstwhile Jewish residents whom they forced to leave. These few thousand Palestinians have no greater moral, historic or legal claim than the surviving Jewish individuals who were displaced during the same time period seven decades ago.

In life as in law there are statutes of limitations that recognize that history changes the status quo. The time has come – indeed it is long overdue – for the world to stop treating these Palestinians as refugees. That status ended decades ago. The Jews who came to Israel from Morocco many years ago are no longer refugees. Neither are the relatives of the Palestinians who have lived outside of Israel for nearly three quarters of a century.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of “The Case Against BDS.”

Posted in Conflict Resolution, Genocide, Mid East Policy, Peace Process, Refugees, Right of Return, Rule of Law | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Settlements and International Law

Israeli Settlements and International Law
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
30 Nov 2015
Attempts to present Jewish settlement in West Bank territory (ancient Judea and Samaria) as illegal and “colonial” in nature ignores the complexity of this issue, the history of the land, and the unique legal circumstances of this case.​​
The Historical Context

Jewish settlement in the territory of ancient Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is often presented as merely a modern phenomenon. In fact, Jewish presence in this territory has existed for thousands of years and was recognized as legitimate in the Mandate for Palestine adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, which provided for the establishment of a Jewish state in the Jewish people’s ancient homeland.

After recognizing “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their national home”, the Mandate specifically stipulated in Article 6 as follows:

“The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use”.

Some Jewish settlements, such as in Hebron, existed throughout the centuries of Ottoman rule, while settlements such as Neve Ya’acov, north of Jerusalem, the Gush Etzion bloc in southern Judea, and the communities north of the Dead Sea, were established under British Mandatory administration prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, and in accordance with the League of Nations Mandate.

Many contemporary Israeli settlements have actually been re-established on sites which were home to Jewish communities in previous generations, in an expression of the Jewish people’s deep historic and abiding connection with this land – the cradle of Jewish civilization and the locus of the key events of the Hebrew Bible. A significant number are located in places where previous Jewish communities were forcibly ousted by Arab armies or militia, or slaughtered, as was the case with the ancient Jewish community of Hebron in 1929.

For more than a thousand years, the only administration which has prohibited Jewish settlement in these areas was the Jordanian occupation administration, which during the nineteen years of its rule (1948-1967) declared the sale of land to Jews a capital offense. The right of Jews to establish homes in these areas, and the private legal titles to the land which had been acquired, could not be legally invalidated by Jordanian occupation – which resulted from their illegal armed invasion of Israel in 1948 and was never recognized internationally as legitimate – and such rights and titles remain valid to this day.

In short, the attempt to portray Jewish communities in the West Bank as a new form of “colonial” settlement in the land of a foreign sovereign is as disingenuous as it is politically motivated. At no point in history were Jerusalem and the West Bank subject to Palestinian Arab sovereignty. At issue is the right of Jews to reside in their ancient homeland, alongside Palestinian Arab communities, in an expression of the connection of both peoples to this land.

International Humanitarian Law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) or the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC) prohibits the transfer of segments of the population of a state to the territory of another state which it has occupied as a result of the resort to armed force. This principle, which is reflected in Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), was drafted immediately following the Second World War and as a response to specific events that occurred during that war.

As the International Red Cross’ authoritative commentary to the Convention confirms, the principle was intended to protect the local population from displacement, including endangering its separate existence as a race, as occurred with respect to the forced population transfers in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary before and during the war. Quite apart from the question of whether the Fourth Geneva Convention applies de jure to territory such as the West Bank over which there was no previous legitimate sovereign, the case of Jews voluntarily establishing homes and communities in their ancient homeland, and alongside Palestinian communities, does not match the kind of forced population transfers contemplated by Article 49(6).

As Professor Eugene Rostow, former US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs has written: “the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the local population to live there” (AJIL, 1990, vol. 84, p.72). The provisions of Article 49(6) regarding forced population transfer to occupied sovereign territory should not be seen as prohibiting the voluntary return of individuals to the towns and villages from which they, or their ancestors, had been forcibly ousted. Nor does it prohibit the movement of individuals to land which was not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state and which is not subject to private ownership.

In this regard, it should be noted that Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been established only after an exhaustive investigation process, under the supervision of the Supreme Court of Israel, and subject to appeal, which is designed to ensure that no communities are established illegally on private land.

Just as the settlements do not violate the terms of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, they do not constitute a “grave breach” of the Fourth Geneva Convention or “war crimes”, as some claim. In fact, even according to the view that these settlements are inconsistent with Article 49(6), the notion that such violations constitute a “grave breach” or a “war crime” was introduced (as a result of political pressure by Arab States) only in the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, to which leading States including Israel are not party and which, in this respect, does not reflect customary international law.

In legal terms, the West Bank is best regarded as territory over which there are competing claims which should be resolved in peace process negotiations – and indeed both the Israeli and Palestinian sides have committed to this principle. Israel has valid claims to title in this territory based not only on the historic Jewish connection to, and long-time residence in this land, its designation as part of the Jewish state under the League of Nations Mandate, and Israel’s legally acknowledged right to secure boundaries, but also on the fact that the territory was not previously under the legitimate sovereignty of any state and came under Israeli control in a war of self-defense. At the same time, Israel recognizes that the Palestinians also entertain claims to this area. It is for this reason that the two sides have expressly agreed to resolve all outstanding issues, including the future of the settlements, in direct bilateral negotiations to which Israel remains committed.

Israeli-Palestinian Agreements

The bilateral agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians, and which govern their relations, contain no prohibition on the building or expansion of settlements. On the contrary, it is specifically provided that the issue of settlements is reserved for permanent status negotiations, reflecting the understanding of both sides that this issue can only be resolved alongside other permanent status issues, such as borders and security. Indeed, the parties expressly agreed – in the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement of 1995 – that the Palestinian Authority has no jurisdiction or control over settlements or Israelis and that the settlements are subject to exclusive Israeli jurisdiction pending the conclusion of a permanent status agreement.

It has been charged that the prohibition, contained in the Interim Agreement (Article 31(7), against unilateral steps which alter the “status” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip implies a ban on settlement activity. This position is unfounded. This prohibition was agreed upon in order to prevent either side from taking steps which purport to change the legal status of this territory (such as by annexation or unilateral declaration of statehood), pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations. Were this prohibition to be applied to building – and given that the provision is drafted to apply equally to both sides – it would lead to the dubious interpretation that neither side is permitted to build homes to accommodate for the needs of their respective communities until permanent status negotiations are successfully concluded.

In this regard, Israel’s decision to dismantle all settlements from the Gaza Strip and some in the Northern West Bank in the context of the 2005 Disengagement Plan were unilateral Israeli measures rather than the fulfilment of a legal obligation.


Attempts to present Jewish settlement in ancient Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) as illegal and “colonial” in nature ignores the complexity of this issue, the history of the land, and the unique legal circumstances of this case.

Jewish communities in this territory have existed from time immemorial and express the deep connection of the Jewish people to land which is the cradle of their civilization, as affirmed by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and from which they, or their ancestors, were ousted.
The prohibition against the forcible transfer of civilians to territory of an occupied state under the Fourth Geneva Convention was not intended to relate to the circumstances of voluntary Jewish settlement in the West Bank on legitimately acquired land which did not belong to a previous lawful sovereign and which was designated as part of the Jewish State under the League of Nations Mandate.
Bilateral Israeli-Palestinian Agreements specifically affirm that settlements are subject to agreed and exclusive Israeli jurisdiction pending the outcome of peace negotiations, and do not prohibit settlement activity.
Israel remains committed to peace negotiations without preconditions in order to resolve all outstanding issues and competing claims. It continues to ask the Palestinian side to respond in kind. It is hoped that such negotiations will produce an agreed secure and peaceful settlement which will give legitimate expression to the connection of both Jews and Palestinians to this ancient land.

Posted in Conflict Resolution, Fourth Geneva Convention, International Humanitarian Law, Israel, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Mid East Policy, Peace Process, Right of Return, Rule of Law, Zionism | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

Jordanian prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein charges “Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem amounts to a war crime.”
Jordanian prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein charged in a report he issued last week that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem amounts to a war crime.

This assumption must be premised on the idea that the West Bank and east Jerusalem are occupied territory. This assumption also must be premised on the idea that Jordan somehow could lawfully ceed to the Arabs of Palestinian extraction, (to wit the PLO, a terrorist entity) this territory. This assumption ignores Jordan’s own breach of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention during it’s illegal 19 years occupation of Judea and Samaria/Shomron!

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein’s report charges that,

“The establishment and expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by Israel, including the legal and administrative measures that it has taken to provide socioeconomic incentives, security, infrastructure and social services to citizens of Israel residing in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, amount to the transfer by Israel of its population into the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” ….

“The transfer of the population by an occupying state into an occupied territory is a grave breach of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and therefore a war crime.”

Notice that his report construes article 147 to mean that settlement activity “amount to the transfer by Israel of its population;” while ignoring the fact that article 147 prohibits forceable population transfers and Israeli citizens settle in Judea and Samaria/Shomron of their own accord. Jewish citizens of Israel are not forceably transfered into an occupied territory as was the case with Jordan and their ethnic cleansing, viz forceable population transfer of Jews from the very territory the report accuses Israel of and into which Jordan transfered it’s own population during it’s illegal 19 years occupation of East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria/Shomron!

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