China, Iran, Russia, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba can commit the most egregious crimes against humanity, but Amnesty calls for damaging boycotts only against Israel.
Amnesty International released a report this week (“Destination: Occupation”) demanding that on-line tourism companies cease doing business in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria. According to Amnesty, Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is illegal under international law and doing business with individuals or organizations based in these so-called occupied territories constitutes “war crimes.”
It is evident that Amnesty knows nothing about Middle Eastern history or international law, so let us begin by pointing out that regardless of what the Palestinians and their Arab allies argue, the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria does not constitute an illegal occupation. Both the League of Nations and the United Nations spelled out the right of Jews to settle in Palestine, and when those bodies defined Palestine, it included Judea and Samaria.
We should note that prior to 1930, Judea and Samaria were barely populated. From 1930 to 1948, several hundred thousand Arabs actually migrated from other parts of Middle East to Judea and Samaria because of the better economic prospects created by the Jews in the region, meaning the actual number of Arabs with strong, long-term ties to Judea and Samaria is far lower than the figures Arab propagandists suggest.
We should also remember that although the Arab armies failed to erase the nascent Jewish state from the map in the War of Independence in 1948, Jordan did manage to seize Judea and Samaria. They proceeded to administer the West Bank (as they referred to the region) for the next 20 years without a word from the Palestinian residents about autonomy or land rights or a sacred homeland.
Fast forward to 1967 when Israel was forced to defend itself from threatening Arab armies. As a result of that war, Israel gained control of Judea and Samaria. Israel would have been well within their rights and in accordance with historical precedent to formally annex those territories, but they did not. Instead, Israel granted to the local Palestinian population a significant degree of self-rule whilst allowing very limited Jewish settlement in carefully proscribed areas.
Israel does not occupy Judea and Samaria. It controls those territories, and Israelis have the right to live wherever in Judea and Samaria they are permitted to do so by their government.
A Clear Misreading of History
Besides the clear misreading of history, there is also the jaw-dropping double-standard embodied in this report. Amnesty has never been shy about criticizing countries for human rights abuses, but they almost never call for sanctions against violators. China, Iran, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba et al can commit the most egregious crimes against humanity, and although Amnesty will write their tsk-tsks in bold font, they rarely, if ever, call on the international community to take any meaningful action against the violators. No such hesitation about recommending damaging economic boycotts against the world’s only Jewish state.
Additionally, to describe Israel’s controlling territory gained in a war initiated by their neighbors (who tried their very best to commit genocide against the Jewish state) or the measures Israel takes to defend itself against constant terrorist attacks as “war crimes” is an absurd and libellous distortion. There are real war crimes being committed in the region, but they’re being committed by the Palestinians who build tunnels to infiltrate civilian communities, crush the skulls of innocent women and children, throw Molotov cocktails at border guards, and refuse to participate in any effort to bring about peaceful coexistence.
One can argue that Israel should vacate Judea and Samaria in return for concessions from their neighbors, but does anyone actually believe that withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would not simply lead to demands from the Palestinians for even more territorial concessions and the creation of a super-sized Gaza? And does anyone seriously think that countries who are now antagonistic towards Israel would do an about-face and ally themselves with the Jewish state if Israel were to completely abandon its settlements in Judea and Samaria? Not in your wildest dreams.
From the point of view of security and self-defense, many of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are located on hilltops and are therefore in a position to observe the comings and goings in the valleys beneath them, fulfilling the role of a vital buffer between pre-1967 Israel and the Palestinian territories, an early warning system so to speak. Abandoning Judea and Samaria will increase the military burden for Israel and will shift the boundaries that need to be defended closer to Israel’s heartland.
Support Israeli Communities in Judea and Samaria
The bottom line is that Israelis have every right to live in Judea and Samaria and their presence actually serves as a protective shield for the rest of the country. Frankly, Jews everywhere should admire those Israelis who choose to live in an area where they are subject to a never-ending stream of biased and ill-informed invective from the Amnesty Internationals of the world and where they face a heightened risk of being the targets of terrorist attacks compared to the rest of Israel.
To answer the attempt by Amnesty International to further isolate Israel, I urge every Jew who is outraged by Amnesty International’s bare-faced anti-Semitism to also donate to organizations that support the communities of Judea and Samaria.
Jews everywhere need to show the world that we stand with the residents of Judea and Samaria and Israel’s right to equal and balanced treatment by international bodies.