Israel: Not Fiction but Fact

Israel exists  —no kudos to people who think acknowledging its existence is a major concession.  Few question the legitimacy of the ten new countries created in the last 20 years or the tens of countries created in the decades before.  That Israel is a Jewish state is bizarrely controversial when 30 countries proclaim Islam as their state or official religion and 19 countries are Christian.  And Israel does not need to prove itself error free or offer to commit existential suicide either.  But the BDS movement, a variant of the Arab Boycott of earlier decades, relies on historical ignorance and misinformation which internet searching does not remedy.   We must reclaim Israel’s history from those who would ben-gurion-independence-1948distort, defame or destroy it. Here follows a short guide to the creation and legal status of Israel.

If ever a country was midwifed by legal and international norms it was Israel.  The creation of Israel was approved by United Nations Resolution 181 in November 1947.  That resolution envisioned the creation of two states, a smaller Jewish state and an larger Arab state.  Jerusalem was to be an international city.  The Jewish community accepted the partition; the Arab leadership rejected it and vowed to oppose by force any Jewish state.

Israel declared its independence on May 15, 1948 and immediately faced five Arab armies and Arab violence from within the Israeli state borders.  Notwithstanding  overwhelming odds, Israeli army’s proved victorious.  During 1949 Israel signed a series of armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.  A year earlier, with little fanfare or international condemnation, Jordan unilaterally occupied the West Bank and banned Jewish access to the Old City of Jerusalem, site of the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.

During this period, the Egyptian government built the refugee camps in Gaza since Egypt, like the other Arab countries surrounding Israel excepting Jordan, refused to give citizenship to the Arabs who had fled Israel, many through their own choice.  Instead the ostracized Palestinian refugees served a mighty purpose by distracting other Arab domestic populations from their own nations’ failures.   The refugees were and continue to be supported by the United Nations, receiving more international aid than any other ethnic group.[i]

Approximately 1,000,000 Jews from Arab countries,  who were mercilessly despoiled and expelled, after 1948 were granted Israeli citizenship and today their descendents form nearly half of the population of Israel.  (This number is about thirty percent higher than the number of Arab refugees who left, mostly voluntarily.)

In 1967 Israel again fought Arab armies.   Israel rapidly swept away Jordanian, Syrian and Egyptian forces and occupied the Sinai Peninsula,  the Golan Heights and the West Bank.  The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242, which requires the:

( i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;  [and]ebe52d16d3bf4ed7bbc3df16fea96c08

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.[ii]

In other words, Israel would withdraw from occupied territories in return for Palestinian and Arab state legal recognition of the state of Israel’s right to live peacefully within safe and internationally recognized borders.

Crucially, the Resolution does not say “all territories” but simply “territories” because of the general understanding that certain territorial adjustments would be made to give Israel its “secure”  borders.  Furthermore, Israel was to remain in legal occupation of the territories until the  peace demarcated in Resolution 242 emerged.  .  Unlike Jordan, Israel permitted access by Arabs to the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The hope of a majority of Israelis, that the Palestinians and their Arab state sponsors would be willing to trade land for peace, proved illusory.  In October 1973 Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon again attacked Israel.    At the war’s end, which produced no territorial change, the United Nations passed Resolution 338 which reiterated that Resolution 242 was to be the  basis for a permanent settlement.   Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979 and Israel returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt.  Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty fifteen years later.

The Institute for Law and Policy at Hebrew University

LOGO-Institute-for-Law-and-Policy-BLUE-300pxThe Institute for Law and Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law has recently announced their Summer Program for international Students and Attorneys. The program, to take place during June 27-July 14, 2016, is co-sponsored by the Brandeis Center along with several other groups such as StandWithUs and the Jewish Federations of North America.

Fulltext of the Institute’s announcement can be found below:


(Jerusalem, Israel) Yuval Shany, Dean of the Hebrew University Faculty of Law in Jerusalem, and Richard D. Heideman, Chairman of the Institute for Law and Policy, are pleased to announce the 2016 Institute Summer Program “Legal Aspects for the Middle East Conflict,” focusing on International Law, Human Rights, the International Criminal Court and Global Technology Law.

The Institute, originally created in 1970, was re-established three years ago by Dean Shany and Heideman, in keeping with their common commitment to provide a high-level academic exposure for law and public policy students from multiple countries to the complexities of legal issues inherent in ongoing Middle East conflicts.

More than forty students from 10 countries including Armenia, United States, Canada, Norway, Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Singapore and Israel have gleaned instrumental knowledge and experience provided by the expert lecturers and educators of the Institute.

Opening on June 27, 2016, the 3-week program will provide in-depth analysis of Israel’s most important and exciting law and policy challenges, in fields such as the Middle East conflicts, human rights, economic globalization, and law and technology.

The Institute is pleased to announce that Professor Luis Moreno Ocampo, former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, will be lecturing this year in a special course focusing on the Role of the International Criminal Court and Other International Institutions in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Lecturers previously appearing at the Institute include noted Human Rights advocate Professor Irwin Cotler, now head of the Raoul Wallenberg Center in Canada, and Professor Robbie Sabel, noted international law scholar at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law. 

At a time when Israel plays center-stage in controversies related to these issues, participants will not only engage in important analysis and debate, but will also experience the multicultural and multidimensional reality of the Jewish State. Professor Yuval Shany, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University, emphasizes the value of the learning environment: “Jerusalem, with its rich history, religious diversity and political centrality, is one of the most exciting places in the world to study international law, conflict resolution and human rights. Our Summer Institute offers oversea participants a rich introduction to the issues confronting us here in Israel in the top-notch and pluralistic academic environment of Hebrew University.”

Richard D. Heideman, Senior Counsel of the Washington DC global law firm Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, PC which focuses on protecting the rights of victims of terror, is the Co-Founder and Chairman of The Israel Forever Foundation and was the impetus behind the re-establishment of the Institute drawn from his experience as a student at the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University in the summers of 1970-72, Heideman stated today in Washington: “We believe the Institute for Law and Policy will have a lasting impact on influential legal and public policy minds of the future. Not only will participants again this year undergo a unique study program in a prominent academic setting, they will also return to their home countries with a greater understanding of Israeli society and the many issues and challenges facing the State of Israel in the context of the multiple ongoing Middle East conflicts.”

The annual Institute for Law and Policy is an engaging summer program for international lawyers, law and public policy students at the Faculty of Law co-sponsored by The Israel Forever Foundation, Heideman Nudelman & Kalik PC, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Jewish Federations of North America, StandWithUs and the Rothberg International School. The Institute program is supported by the American Bar Association Section of International Law. Students and lawyers attending the program may be eligible to receive course and/or CLE credit.

Counter-BDS Movement Has a Good Month

Last week the British government issued guidance banning local government and public sector Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) actions toward any country not blacklisted by the Foreign Office. The Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS…

Bi-Partisan Anti-BDS Bill Introduced to Congress

This past Wednesday, Congressman from both sides of the aisle introduced new legislation to fight the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement against Israel. Sponsored by Mark Kirk (R-IL) and co-sponsored by Joe Manchin (D-WV) in the Senate, and sponsored by Bob Dold (R-IL) and co-sponsored by Juan Vargas (D-CA) in the House– the Combating BDS Act of 2016 (S. 2531/H.R. 4514) “would authorize state and local…

Marcus to Address StandWithUs Anti-BDS Conference

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will be speaking at the StandWithUs International Anti-BDS Conference for the second year in a row. StandWithUs, an international non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public about Israel and combating anti-Semitism, will host this conference from April 9-11 in Los Angeles, California. At the conference, internationally renowned experts will discuss…

Lawfare Project Refutes BDS Legal Arguments

LawfareProject_logoThe Lawfare Project has just published a legal analysis paper it believes will “demolish the claims of Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights” that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed against Israel is impervious to legal threat. The New York based non-profit legal organization is dedicated to fighting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic “lawfare,” which it defines as “the use of the law as a weapon of war,” and “the abuse of Western laws and judicial systems to achieve strategic military or political ends” against Israel.

The paper, entitled “The Illegality of BDS in New York State: Response to Frivolous Arguments of Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights,” observes that “BDS advocates claim that any boycott of Israel, Israeli goods, or Israeli persons is protected by the First Amendment, and that the application of state anti-discrimination laws to prohibit or penalize BDS activities is consequently unconstitutional.” However, the paper demonstrates the “fatal flaws” of their arguments, and warns business contemplating the implementation of BDS practices that they must understand these flaws, “lest they find themselves subject to potentially crushing legal liability.”

The paper first analyzes false claim that BDS is entirely protected under the Supreme Court’s landmark 1982 decision in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. It points out that while that decision foreclosed certain boycotters from facing liability under a theory of tortious and malicious interference with business, it did not foreclose their liability under, for example, New York State law, whichexpressly prohibits boycott activity targeting persons and entities because of their national origin.” It also notes that Claiborne only declared it unconstitutional for government to completely prohibit speech and advocacy promoting boycotts; the decision left it perfectly constitutional for a government to forbid actual boycotts. Thus, the paper emphasizes that New York’s anti-boycott statute is perfectly constitutional under Claiborne, as it is “limited to business activity [actual boycotts] and, notably, does not forbid advocacy, picketing, or other forms of speech in furtherance of boycotting.” Later, the paper also notes that according to the Second Circuit’s opinion in Jews for Jesus, Inc., a suit brought under New York’s anti-boycott statutes will withstand a First Amendment challenge, as the statute “easily satisfy [the] criteria” necessary for states to “constitutionally regulate conduct even if such regulation entails an incidental limitation on speech” and, further, “[t]hese statutes are plainly aimed at conduct, i.e., discrimination, not speech.”

AAU Opposes Boycotts of Israeli Academic Institutions

On January 14, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities reissued a 2013 statement opposing boycotts of Israeli academic institutions. The statement proclaims that “any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.” The AAU reissued…

Hitler’s Presence Online

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 11.22.31 AMThe Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism (ISCA), a project by The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS), recently released a media report examining Adolf Hitler’s presence online. They noted that glorifying Hitler is “a widespread trend” on the internet, with a wide range of content promoting Hitler’s ideology readily available on national-socialist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist websites, as well as on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram.

ISCA stated that such websites not only “glorify Hitler through History,” but also “draw a complete outline of Hitler’s ideology, interpreting Hitler’s thought and presenting him as a visionary”, in addition to providing their visitors with “alternative ideological tools to understand and interpret the present.”

There are many such websites online, each aiming to perpetuate Hitler’s hateful ideology by glorifying it and by attempting to “educate” their visitors with biased, distorted information by claiming freedom of speech. Many of the sites noted by ISCA as examples in their report praised Hitler and his ideology, one site claiming him to be an “inspiration” and another listing 10 reasons why he was “one of the good guys.” In addition, ISCA also noted that some of the websites, “often related to far-right or neo-fascist movements”, are dedicated to the merchandising of Nazi and Hitler’s “souvenirs.” Such “relics” include Nazi paraphernalia, pins and flags, and other such merchandising consists of copies of Mein Kampf and other books and DVDs supporting Hitler’s ideology, clothing with various Nazi inspired emblems, and a even a bust of Hitler.

Such bigoted content is not limited to lone websites, and is also present in various social networking platforms. ISCA noted that Facebook, being the largest social networking site, has a multitude of pages and profiles that are “racist or promote racial hatred.” These pages can be public group pages or personal profiles. While Facebook does offer its “community of users the possibility to report such pages and profiles so the network deletes them”, they do not catch or delete everything so one can still find content glorifying Hitler and the Nazis on the site. When these pages or profiles are eventually deleted, there is the problem that the creator of the page or profile can easily re-create it.