Thank you to @anneinpt for planting the seed of this article….
If you could describe a people by their traits, you would not be far off the mark if you said Arabs were great at two things: melodrama and creating the “creeping factoid”.
With regards to the first characteristic, when Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandeis refused, in Parliament, to refer to East Jerusalem as “occupied”, that political chameleon in Ramallah, chief “Palestinian” negotiator, Saeb Erekat, lodged an official letter of protest with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over the meeting of Australian Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, with Housing Minister Uri Ariel, in the latter’s office in East Jerusalem.
In the letter, Erekat rather melodramatically called a meeting between two blokes a “violation of international law” and “an attempt to legitimize an illegal situation” and made some noises about falling Australian wheat and meat exports…… All very solemn stuff.
And that’s where the “creeping factoid” bit comes in.
Fortunately, Attorney-General Brandeis, his Prime Minister, and the country’s Foreign Minister, all read and know what the international legal community reads and knows: that Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria is legal. Moreover, when specifically challenged about the illegality of Israeli settlements on a visit to Israel in January 2014, Foreign Minister Bishop stated, “I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal.”
But what about the “factoid” I mentioned earlier?
Well, a factoid is an invented fact, believed to be true because of its appearance in print. This was the original definition coined in 1973 by Norman Mailer. He came up with the word, adding the suffix “oid” to imply something that gives the impression of being something it actually is not.
For my money, though, I went with the Oxford dictionary meaning of the term. I’m that sort of guy.
The Oxford dictionary calls a factoid “an item of unreliable information that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.”
So what is it that these Australians are seeing that neither the chief “Palestinian” negotiator and eighteen Arab and/or Muslim diplomats in Canberra who angrily lobbied Ms Bishop do not see?
The facts. And they “hide” in plain sight.
Of course, the beauty of this system of relying on facts is that anybody can go and check them out for oneself. Then it’s all about following the crumb-trail of history until you get to the logical conclusion. So, let’s see whether these Aussies know their potatoes or not……….
Today, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict will be settled through law. This means accepting and working within an internationally agreed framework called the United Nations Charter. And it means turning to the ministrations of the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
The Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization. Its main judicial organ, should the Assembly require an advisory opinion, is the International Court of Justice, which is annexed to the UN Charter of which it is an integral part (Article 92).
This means that in and of itself, the International Court of Justice is, under the terms of the UN Charter, an Advisory body to the UNGA and the UNSC, and does not constitute res judicata …
Further, Articles 93 and 96 state that all members of the United Nations are ipso facto parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice and that the General Assembly or the Security Council may request the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on any legal question arising within the scope of their activities.
However, much as it would like to, the ICJ cannot consider declarations and resolutions of the UN General Assembly as customary international law, nor does it have the authority under the Charter to issue a directive to Member States, a function reserved solely to the Security Council.
Not to labour the point too much, the ICJ’s powers under a) its own mandate and b) its annexation to the United Nations Charter, do not include the right to issue directives to enforce and/or adopt its advisory opinion. That is the sole prerogative of the Security Council, the only UN organ with the power under the UN Charter to ‘direct’ or ‘obligate’ Member States on how to act.
As we shall see, nothing of the sort ever took place in the case of the international legally binding contracts which partitioned Mandated Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.
And if that is the case, then which “international law” does Erekat accuse Australia of violating?
That Australian Foreign Minister might have been onto something after all.
So what of Mr Erekat’s melodramatic invocation of “violation of international law” and attempts to “legitimize an illegal situation”? Perhaps the facts will speak for themselves.
At the end of the nineteenth century, it was clear that the Ottoman Caliphate was an apple ripe for the plucking. It had ruled over Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa and vast tracts of the Mediterranean basin suppressing Arab and Caucasian alike for around 600 years.
In 1915, Sir Henry McMahon made promises on behalf of the British government, about allocation of territory to the Arab people in the region in return for their support in toppling the Ottomans.
Archive documents show that the British promise excluded Palestine, that area from the river to the sea, from territory to be given to the Arab people. It also separated the territory east of the Jordan River, namely Transjordan (since renamed Jordan), from Palestine west of the Jordan.
This land west of the Jordan was to be a Jewish homeland in line with the 1917 Balfour Declaration of intent to establish a Jewish homeland.
On the 25th April 1920, at the San Remo Conference which convened at the conclusion of World War I to determine the precise boundaries for territories captured by the Allies, it was finally resolved to incorporate the Balfour Declaration in Britain’s mandate in Palestine.
Thus, Britain was made responsible “for putting into effect the declaration made on the 8th November 1917 by the British Government and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people; it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
This determination was ratified under the auspices of the League of Nations in August 1920 at the Treaty of Sèvres.
Apart from the major powers, the Treaty was attended and signed by the Hashemite King of the Hedjaz as representative of Arab interests in the region who was a signatory to the explicit stipulation of the Treaty that there would be “a national home for the Jewish people” in British Mandated Palestine so long as he could lay claim to a British-supported Arab kingdom in Transjordan [in addition to the creation of the Arab states of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq…].
Thus, the San Remo Resolution of 1920, as well as the formal Treaty of Sevres later in the year recognized, with the acknowledgement of the representative of the Arab interests in the region, the exclusive national Jewish rights to the Land of Israel under international law, on the strength of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the territory previously known as Palestine.
Till this point in history, there was no mention of a “Palestinian” Arab people, nor of “Palestinian” Arab territory west of the Jordan, nor even of Jerusalem as a capital for an Arab Muslim state……………….
In fact, the term “Palestine” is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people now extinct who, in the 12th Century B.C.E., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what are now Israel and the Gaza Strip.
In the second century C.E., after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans then applied the name Palaestina to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank of the Jordan River) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. The Arabic word Filastin is derived from this Latin name. The Roman name Palaestina and the British term Palestine have always and everywhere referred to the Jews of the Land of Israel and the people of Judea and Samaria…..
And this is where the Arab penchant for “creeping factoids” comes in.
In his Commencement Address at Yale University, June 11 1962, John F. Kennedy famously said “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic…[enabling us to] enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
And it is this that has become the weapon of choice for the Arab Muslim narrative in the Middle East.
One can easily trace the General Assembly’s attempts to legislate changes in the status of the Territories.
How the definition of the status of the Territories was doctored is well documented on the website of the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations that posts landmark pro- General Assembly resolutions.
In this regard, the wording of resolutions by sub-committees heavily influenced by the Arab voting bloc changes reference to the issue from “territories” to “occupied territories” to “Occupied Territories” and “Arab territories” to “occupied Palestinian territories” to “Occupied Palestinian Territory” and “occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem”!!
Specifically, the following example will illustrate what I mean:
• Resolution 3236 (XXIX) 9 passed in November 1974, immediately after the Yom Kippur War, speaks of “the question of Palestine”.
There is still not a mention or record of the concept of a “Palestinian” Arab Muslim people or a “Palestinian” Arab nation, a “Palestinian” territory “stolen” and “occupied” by invading Jews.
At this stage, some twenty five years after the birth of the Jewish state, the issue remains one of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict which started with the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. And it was only after Israel had defeated its enemies against overwhelming odds in 1948, 1967 and 1973, that the Arabs realised that an approach other than a full-frontal, genocidally-inspired violence might serve them better.
Thus, starting with the flexing of Arab oil muscle in the first Gulf oil crisis in 1973 after the defeat of the Yom Kippur War which has held the rest of the world in thrall till today, the process of the de-legitimising Israel in earnest began to gather steam.
The myth of an Arab Muslim“Palestine”, the Muslim “Palestinian” people and the “occupied territories” with Jerusalem as its capital, made its way from myth to “factoid”…….
The crossover from Arab-Israeli conflict to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was complete as the Arab states exploited mainly immigrant Arabs to Mandated Palestine to fight a proxy war they lost in 1948.
The only fly in this fervent ointment of a newly-discovered “Palestinian” “heritage” of course, remained the actual legalities of what was decided in 1920 and 1922 under the auspices of the League of Nations and the United Nations which succeeded it.
But because it is further possible to illustrate that the Arab concept of the “creeping factoid” was a planned campaign of creating a “country” and a “people” out of thin air, I quote the following:
• Resolution 38/5810 in December 1983, now speaks of “Arab territories” where there were none (Jordan is Palestine…) and “occupied territories” (by whom??)
• Resolution 43/17611 passed in December 1988 expresses sentiments
suggesting “Palestinian entitlement” – speaking of “the Palestinian people[’s] right to exercise their sovereignty over their territory occupied since 1967” ( I need hardly point out again that there was no “Palestinian People” 1948-1973 to take land from in the first place..…);
• Resolution 51/13312 passed in December 1996 adds Jerusalem in particular – speaking of “occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan”;
• Resolution 52/25013 passed in July 1998 fully “assigns title” – speaking of “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” a designation that is frequently used in subsequent resolutions.
As late as December 2003, concerning a request a request made by the United Nations General Assembly, contained in Resolution ES–10/14 of 8 December 2003, the ICJ formulated a question which read as follows:
“What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem….?”[emphasis mine]
Of course, despite the overall impression it might give the casual media consumer, none of these terms have a legal foundation any more than declaring “the world is flat” makes it so. Yet, the International Court of Justice, to which Mr Erekat makes innumerable references, cites these terms as if they were legal documents, all in violation of the Court’s own Statute.
It is for this reason, under international law, that it becomes increasingly difficult to understand Mr Erekat’s objections as relayed to the Australian Foreign Minister.
Eleven successive British governments, Labour and Conservative, from David Lloyd George (1916-1922) through Clement Attlee (1945-1952) viewed themselves as duty-bound to fulfill the Mandate for Palestine placed in the hands of Great Britain by the League of Nations. Under international law.
We see now that there has never ever been a violation of international law regarding Israel’s sovereign rights to settle the land she does.
There might be a lot of steam and noise in the Arab world’s use of the factoids. But they also know that you know that it ain’t worth a pinch of rat snuff.
And what of the notion of East Jerusalem as ‘sovereign’ “Palestinian” “capital” territory? That may become the subject of a further blog.
International law. Gotta love it.
I acknowledge the intellectual property of Eli Hertz and Maurice Ostroff in the writing of this blog, and I would thank @anneinpt for alerting me to Eli’s work on Twitter. Thank you all.