Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Hypocrisy?

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.
February 24, 2007

Hezbollah remains on the USA's terror list. The international community continues to support the United Nations Resolution 1701. Do you remember this resolution? In part it states the following:

"Hezbollah and other terrorist elements must be disarmed as stipulated in the Taif Accord (1989) and in the relevant Security Council resolutions. The resolution also states that the Lebanese government, with the assistance of UNIFIL, should exercise its authority across its entire territory and, within that context, to rid south Lebanon of the presence and arms of Hezbollah and the other terrorist organizations. Likewise, the resolution forbids transporting arms to Hezbollah (and the other terrorist organizations) by land, sea, and air."

Yet, Hezzbollah, in defiance of the Lebanese government and UNIFIL (and, in fact, the entire international community), which bears the responsibility to implement the resolution ignores international law and rearms itself. It does so in physical view of UNIFIL troops.

I am not the only one who knows these facts. The media possesses this same information as does all of the international community including our very own government. Yet Israel has,once again, been condemned by the UN. Syria continues to illegally transport weapons to these terrorists, under the vigil of UNIFIL.1 On February 16, 2007, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a belligerent, arrogant speech in a ceremony held in south Beirut (in the neighborhood of Al-Rawis) on the anniversary of the killing of two senior Hezbollah figures. In his speech, Nasrallah admitted that his organization was rearming and secretly smuggling arms and ammunition to south Lebanon. Here is a partial translation of his speech:

"Hezbollah is rearming: "We are being very clear and we are saying that we have arms. We are not lying and [we are] telling it to the whole world. We have arms [Nasrallah stresses the word "arms"]… of all shapes and sizes… The resistance [i.e., Hezbollah] has arms. It is saying it in public, adding that it is rearming and increasing the scope of its armament in order to get more dangerous arms…"

"Hezbollah is secretly transporting arms to the Israeli front: "The resistance [i.e., Hezbollah] notes that it is transporting the arms to the front. We do not hide it. Doing it in secret is only natural. Could we do it openly? How?… We concealed our arms because we wanted to conceal them from our enemies… We are transporting the arms in secret because it is our right… We are transporting the arms secretly and in straw trucks so as to not embarrass you [the Lebanese government]…"1

The response from the West is resounding silence. The justification is Hezbollah is the defender of Lebanon and this trumps any international order. Thus there is no behavioral action or consequence for Hezbollah's or any other terrorist group when they thumb their nose at international law! It is not Hezbollah who is acting hypocritically, it is the international community and especially the West lead by Britain, France, Germany and the United States. As long as we do not hold accountable groups, nations or individuals professing to represent a sovereign nation, then we can never expect peace. Our behavior is one of appeasement and until we stand up to the strategy our enemies use we shall fail. They use our own legal system and conscious against us and we willing march toward the cliff of doom. Words either have meaning or they do not; until we are willing to support our words with behavioral consequences we expect all terrorist groups to use the following types of arguments against us:

"…We stress our commitment to the resistance [i.e., the way of violence and terrorism], to the cause of the resistance and to the project of the resistance that defends the homeland… I am saying that we will remain on the border, in Beirut , and everywhere in Lebanon . We are Lebanese, and this country is our country… Every clod of earth in the south is to us a drop of a shahid's blood. Every rock in the south is to us a shahid's body… Every olive tree in the south is to us the loving and sparkling soul of the jihad warriors of the resistance… and Hezbollah… is willing to wage jihad and persist with its struggle for justice in all areas…"1

For those in the West who still act as though we can dialogue and/or solve the problems of the Middle East through words, I submit it is a choice you are making to justify your lack of will and determination to stand and fight. History is repeating itself and we are none the wiser. For me, I am rapidly loosing confidence in the West's ability to preserve its way of life for my grandchildren. Our behavior is a disgrace-what pray tell should I say to my children?

End Notes
1. February 23, 2007, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report

International Law and Israel's Rights

Understanding the Fourth Geneva Convention

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.
SPME Board of Directors
Wingate Institute/Zinman College
Mar.7, 2005
Revised March 2007

It was a warm September day here in Israel. My friends were either at the beach, sitting at a café or enjoying their family and IT all began, again! The IT I am referring to is the second Intifada. This was a planned, premeditated action by the Palestinian leadership (1) and for many of us it continues to this day. We welcome the new leadership indicating peace may now be possible, we listen to the words of the terrorist groups who indicate they will honor the cease-fire, and we are cautious with our optimism. We have been down this road before. Our wanting to believe is laid on top of our memories of the most recent past. The quiet time served only as a re-stocking, repositioning, reenergizing by all interested terrorist groups and Israeli children, mothers and fathers have paid the price for wanting to believe.

How did we arrive at this point in time? Some would have you believe that IsraelÕs occupation of Palestinian land is the reason why the conflict began and still rages on. If Israel would simply leave the territories the bloodshed would stop, peace would reign supreme. In a previous paper I shared an opposing point of view (2).

To legitimize the support of Palestinian terror, people and nations have turned to UN resolutions, international agreements and documents to make Israel wrong, in so doing the result is that the Palestinian positions are correct-even honorable. One such document that has found favor among those convinced that terrorism is a sanctioned activity is the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention document.

There has been so much written about this document. However, many of the articles provide only a snapshot of the Fourth Geneva Convention and intentionally do so to support a political position. This kind of reporting clearly offers a singular and often simplistic perspective of events here in the Middle East. Let us examine context and perspective as they apply to the fourth Geneva Convention.

Historical context in a capsule:

The Geneva Conventions consist of treaties formulated in Geneva, Switzerland that set the standards of international law for humanitarian concerns. The conventions were the results of efforts by Henri Dunant (1862), who was motivated by the horrors of war he witnessed at the Battle of Solferino (1859).

The conventions, their agreements and two added protocols are as follows: First Geneva Convention (1864): Treatment of battlefield casualties and creation of International Red Cross Second Geneva Convention (1906): Extended the principles from the first convention to apply also to war at sea.

Third Geneva Convention (1929): Treatment of Prisoner of war.

Fourth Geneva Convention (1949): Treatment relating to the protection of civilians during times of war "in the hands" of an enemy and under any occupation by a foreign power.

Protocol I ( 1977): Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts Protocol II (1977): Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts.

In summary, the first three conventions were revised, a fourth was added, and the entire set was ratified in 1949; the whole is referred to as the "Geneva Conventions of 1949" or simply the "Geneva Conventions". Later conferences (Protocols) added the provisions prohibiting certain methods of warfare and addressing issues of civil wars. (3)

All of the preceding conventions occurred after the horror of war had once again dealt its misery upon human beings. One can notice over time that people attempted to make war less painful and less grotesque by attempting to get the world community to adopt more humane behavior and actions specific to the title of each convention. This paper makes no attempt to describe any of the preceding documents; rather, it is important to note that for nearly 150 years many in the world community have attempted to sanitize human war behavior and in so doing suggest to the non-warring people that war has rules that must be followed, during battle and after cessation of a war.

War is an ugly business. For thousands of years, this has remained the case. Finally the Geneva Conventions came along in 1948, and the nations of the world joined hands to transform war from an ugly business into an ugly-business-described-by-solemn-buzzwords-and-unenforceable-guidelines, which allowed countries taking part in war to disavow the ugliness of the business without actually having to conduct the business in any meaningfully different manner. This is what we call "civilization."(4)

Thus, one of the first things the newly formed U.N. did was sit down in Geneva, Switzerland, and try to find a kinder, gentler way to wage war. In December 1948, the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide passed the first article of what would be known as the Geneva Conventions. Genocide was defined as murder "committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." This convention drew up a list of punishable crimes "genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; attempt to commit genocide; [and] complicity in genocide." Other articles were added and produced the document we know as the Fourth Geneva Convention. The history of the Geneva documents is well worth studying. One discovers that each new set of guidelines has attempted to appease groups of violated people as well as trying to civilize an otherwise uncivil set of human behaviors. What happens when the rules are broken?

Accusations of violation of the Geneva Conventions on the part of signatory nations are brought before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The International Court of Justice (known colloquially as the World Court or ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Established in 1945, its main functions are to settle disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions (non-binding) on legal questions submitted to it by the UN General Assembly or UN Security Council, or by such specialized agencies as may be authorized to do so by the General Assembly in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The Statute of the International Court of Justice is the main constitutional document constituting and regulating the Court (5).

The Court resides in The Hague, the Netherlands. It is composed of fifteen judges elected by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council from a list of persons nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Judges serve for nine years and may be re-elected. No two may be nationals of the same country. One-third of the Court is elected every three years. Each of the five permanent members of the Security Council ( France, the People's Republic of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have always had a judge on the Court.

Questions before the Court are decided by a majority of judges present. Article 38 of the Statute provides that in arriving at its decisions the Court shall apply international conventions, international custom, the "general principles of law recognized by civilized nations". It may also refer to academic writing and previous judicial decisions to help interpret the law, although the Court is not formally bound by its previous decisions. If the parties agree, the Court may also decide ex aequo et bono, or "in justice and fairness", in which the Court makes a decision based on general principles of fairness rather than specific law (5). The ICJ hears two distinct types of cases upon which the court may rule: contentious issues between states in which the court produces binding rulings between states that agree and advisory opinions, which provide reasoned, but non-binding, rulings on properly submitted questions of international law, usually at the request of the United Nations General Assembly. Please note that the court only hears contentious issues between states when both parties agree to participate in the court activity. If one nation does not agree to participate, the outcome is not binding; although historically the outcome has been used for political gain. I provide the preceding information for several reasons.

First, it is useful to note that the United Nations serves as the judge and the jury for international behavior transgressions-fortunately it has no power or authority to be also the executioner. The Fourth Geneva Convention was the result of the newly created United Nations, just after WWII, to ensure that future wars be more humane. The ICJ, the legal interpreter/arm of the United Nations, operates within its auspices and structure thus serving as judge and jury. It is also useful to understand this direct relationship between the Geneva Conventions and the ICJ. From the very same organization who created the Geneva documents come the representative individuals who sit in judgment of misbehavior. They are therefore not independent agents. Is it possible they may have a vested political interest in the outcome of the arguments presented to the court?

Second, although it is true that most countries have signed onto the Geneva Conventions, it is important to note that even the United States did not sign onto the two additional protocols in 1977. There is no international law or court of law that has supreme jurisdiction over each and every country's behavior. There are no international police that enforce any of the Geneva judgments. Yet most civilized countries today do their best to adhere to the humanitarian language found within the Geneva documents.

Third, the Fourth Geneva Convention for all practical purposes is an advisory set of rules for the world community to operate within, it is truly not, in a practical manner, binding. However, the world, the media, the pundits and most of academia act as though it is mandatory. Countries call into question the behavior of some other (but not all) countries that do not meet the Fourth Geneva Convention specifications as they interpret them. The key is as they interpret them. Herein lies the crux of the matter.

Perspective: Political Currency
Again, it is beyond the scope of this paper to offer all of the interpretive arguments all sides have presented. However, it may be instructive to demonstrate the relationship that exists between such interpretation and the gain of political capital by the international community of nations.

One of the more recent FGC (Fourth Geneva Convention) interpretations that illustrate this concept is the ruling by the ICJ regarding Israel's security barrier. This event clearly demonstrates all of the afore-mentioned considerations from interpretation to political motivation. The following is a general summary of the events surrounding the case of the security barrier and the 4th Geneva Convention: The traditional approach to international arbitration would have barred the ICJ from entering into this international conflict. Palestine, since it is not a recognized state, cannot sue before the ICJ in its own name. Israel did not consent to let the legality of the fence be decided by the ICJ. However, this did not stop the international community.

December, 2003: The statute of the ICJ provides that the Court may only decide disputes submitted by states and then only with the consent of the states that are parties to the dispute. Israel chose not to participate. The U.N. General Assembly, at the prompting of Arab states, asked the Court to provide an "advisory opinion" on the dispute over the fence. The U.N. Charter allows for this procedure, but only in regard to "legal issues" and only in conformity with the overall scheme of the Charter. Here, the General Assembly was effectively asking the ICJ to endorse its own political conclusions, with its resolution describing the fence as a "wall" (most of it is, in fact, chain-link construction) on "occupied territory including East Jerusalem." The General Assembly was also seeking to have the ICJ do an end-run around the Security Council, which is supposed to have primary responsibility for resolving threats to peace (while at the same time circumventing the legal requirement that Israel consent to be judged in a case to which it was a party) (6).

The Court had many legal grounds for refusing to decide this case. The Israeli government and also the U.S., Russia, the European Union and a majority of EU member states pressed such arguments on the Court. In other words, all the sponsors of the "road map," urged the Court to stay out of this heated political conflict. Many other governments around the world took the same view.

The Court's own authority observed that the lack of consent to the Court's contentious jurisdiction by interested states has no bearing on the Court's jurisdiction to give an advisory opinion. So it went ahead anyway and provided an advisory opinion. A lengthy opinion piece emerged that addressed the political sound bites the Palestinians have used for months, e.g., occupation, location of the fence, freedom of Palestinian movement to name but a few. The political currency gained by this public performance resonates to even this day.

Given the membership of the Court, where states hostile to Israel are plentifully represented, condemnation of the fence was to be expected. Most regrettable and upsetting, however, was that all five judges from EU states (UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia) went along with the majority. Only the American judge, Thomas Buergenthal, argued against taking this step and he also dissented on the essence of the arguments.

Thus, a case that need not be heard by the Geneva's Convention legal court (ICJ) was encouraged by the Arab states and ultimately other countries to play out on the international stage. For those who do not understand how the Geneva Convention and ICJ work, they became willing recipients of what amounted to misinformation and disinformation about Israel's rights under international law. The belief one is left with is that Israel has no legal right to protect itself via a security barrier and that Israel continues to break the rules of the 4th Geneva Convention-nothing could be further from the truth yet the public relation damage had been done. Once again, the Palestinians were portrayed as victims of the Israeli government and its people.

This is but one example how certain countries have pronounced the legal rights and wrongs of the Mid-East conflict. European governments, already so eager to distance themselves politically from Israel have fallen lock step in this action with many other nations of the world.

The use of The Fourth Geneva Convention served to validate the Palestinian tactic of using the international community, and the United Nations in particular, as a forum for airing grievances against Israel, rather than resolving such matters through bilateral negotiations and the Oslo peace process. There are other examples of Geneva Convention interpretations being used for political gain. The following example is a common other point of view argument employed by Israel's detractors.

Israel ratified the Fourth Geneva Convention with effect from 6 July 1951. The convention is considered to have been elevated to the status of "customary international law", which means it applies irrespective of whether a State has ratified it. Apart from Israel, the entire international community, has unambiguously accepted the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to those territories captured and occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, which include the West Bank and Gaza.(7).

The authors then move into all of the violations of the Fourth Geneva convention by Israel and they do so using technical legal language. This is done not to offer clarity to the reader, rather it is done to impress the reader as well as to confuse the reader. At no time do these authors or others who employ this reporting strategy offer the counter argument still present today: the Geneva convention does not apply to the territories of Gaza and the West Bank. Thousands and thousands of articles have been written with the basic assumption that it is common knowledge that the Convention is applicable to these lands and under these documents Israel is in violation of international law. It is curious that the international community does not hold the Palestinians to these same opinions and ignores their daily violations of this same document. For example by deliberately placing young Arab children in the front of large mobs that advanced menacingly upon Israeli soldiers, Palestinian leaders openly committed major violations of the Law of War. There is, in fact, a precise legal term for these violations, a term that applies equally to the Palestinian tactic of routinely inserting scores of gunmen among the lines of children. This codified crime under humanitarian international law is called "perfidy."(8)

The truth is that even to this day, the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention is being argued and challenged. For example, Dore Gold offers "The Fourth Geneva Convention is not applicable in the West Bank and Gaza because previous occupants [Jordan and Egypt] entered those territories illegally in 1948 during the Arab invasion of Israel." Since the Fourth Geneva Convention seeks to protect the sovereign from the occupying military power, and there has not been a recognized sovereign in the territories aside from the Jewish people since 1920, there is no factual basis for its application to the territories (9).

The Fourth Geneva Convention, composed in 1949, is the document, which most addresses the rights and obligations of Occupying Powers. Many argue that the Palestinian Arabs are not citizens of a country that has agreed to the Convention, but it is universally accepted that all of the articles that relate to the treatment of the civilian, non-combatant population still apply.

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Meir Shamgar wrote in the 1970s that there is no de jure applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention regarding occupied territories to the case of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the Convention "is based on the assumption that there had been a sovereign who was ousted and that he had been a legitimate sovereign." In fact, prior to 1967, Jordan had occupied the West Bank and Egypt had occupied the Gaza Strip; their presence in those territories was the result of their illegal invasion in 1948, in defiance of the UN Security Council. Jordan's 1950 annexation of the West Bank was recognized only by Great Britain (excluding the annexation of Jerusalem) and Pakistan, and rejected by the vast majority of the international community, including the Arab states. At Jordan's insistence, the 1949 Armistice Line, that constituted the Israeli-Jordanian boundary until 1967, was not a recognized international border but only a line separating armies. The Armistice Agreement specifically stated: "no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations" (8).

Given that some argue that since Palestine is not a state, neither internal conflict nor international conflict applies (those are the only things the four Geneva Conventions apply to). Some argue that Israel is an occupying power in the West Bank and Gaza. If this is the case, then there are specific laws concerning occupation in the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international law. Under this convention, Palestinians who are residents of the Occupied Territories are considered protected persons. Protected persons have certain rights and immunities. If they choose to fight, however, they are not entitled to prisoner of war status. They would be subject to the laws or military orders of the occupying power. The debate is endless.

As of this date with respect to the rules of war the Geneva Convention is a multi-faceted set of documents that represent the sum total of humans' thinking. It should be of some interest to note that the US signed all four Geneva Convention agreements, and Congress ratified all but the two amended protocols of 1977. Similarly, Israel has also not signed the additional protocols, and these are not considered customary law. So, using international law neither the US nor Israel has committed "grave breaches" or any other violations. In the years since its adoption, the Fourth Geneva Convention was convened only to discuss Israel, and never once met to deal with world atrocities including those in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Sudan, Congo, and Tibet.

Since 1997, the Arab group at the United Nations has been trying to invoke the Fourth Geneva Convention against Israel, claiming that it applies to settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Again in February 1999 this group managed to get the General Assembly to adopt a resolution calling for a special UN session in Geneva to examine "persistent violations" by Israel. Although reduced in scope by the United States, a special UN meeting held in Geneva on July 15, 1999 unanimously passed a resolution stating that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The closed-door meeting lasted a mere 45 minutes.

When the Second Intifada started in September 2000, the Arab group renewed its demand for a full reconvening of the High Contracting Parties. In response, Switzerland (the Depository for the Fourth Geneva Convention with the responsibility to convene meetings), in consultation with other countries, drafted a declaration that was critical of Israel, but was far more moderate than the draft document submitted by the Organization of Islamic Conference. Continuing their political maneuvers on December 5, 2001 (request of Arab states), Switzerland again reconvened a meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to discuss alleged Israeli violations of the Convention in its treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The United States, Israel and Australia boycotted the meeting, because, as Israel warned that the meeting would be used "as a blunt tool for political attacks" against Israel. This meeting lasted a mere two hours, the expected result by the assembled parties adopted a resolution censuring Israel for alleged violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Curiously this meeting was held in the shadow of deadly campaign of Palestinian homicide terrorism, which killed at least 25 Israelis. Does this not demonstrate the absurdity of the one-sided focus on alleged Israeli violations?

Actions produce responses and additional actions-there is cause and effect. The reconvening of the High Contracting Parties served to legitimize the Palestinian strategy of using the international community, and the U.N. in particular, as a forum for airing grievances against Israel, rather than resolving such matters through bilateral negotiations. Moreover one can argue that the reconvening of High Contracting Parties to discuss these issues dangerously politicized and violated the spirit of the Geneva Convention and its important humanitarian purpose.

The international hypocrisy over the application of the Fourth Geneva convention needs to be discussed in detail. I will only open this discussion door in this paper. Given that those in the world community of nations have used the document to make political points against Israel, these same countries have also accepted that all of the articles relating to the treatment of the civilian, non-combatant population still apply. For example, did you know that Article 23 Allows Occupying Powers to limit the free passage of medical and other critical consignments when such materials may give direct or indirect aid to enemy fighting forces? Were you aware that Article 49 Allows Occupying Powers to transfer, in part or in total, the occupied civilian population when there are imperative military reasons? Did you also know that Article 46 Allows for restrictive measures regarding personal property of civilians? The Fourth Geneva Convention does not define these measures. Perhaps you didn't know that Article 53 Allows Occupying Powers to destroy personal property where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. Based upon this language Israel has the right to its actions; has this information been withheld from the common reader? This information contradicts what you have been led to believe is true. Selective use of the convention's language has been used for years by Israel's enemies. For what purpose? There is no real power behind the charges except the power of public opinion and resultant actions by their nations' government. If you can convince people that Israel is the prime reason for all of the Palestinians problems, then governments can sell their anti-Israel policies. In addition, this takes the spotlight off of any Arab country or even Western country with respect to its own internal difficulties. Finally, it once again demonstrates how the Palestinians have been victimized for decades-this resonates well in many of the world's countries. With the help of the media, academia, and international governments this misrepresentation of the truth continues to this day. We all pray that the Second Intifada of physical harm is over; please understand the Intifada of revisionism of history and misrepresentation of facts continues unabated. This helps keep the conflict brewing. Is it not time to change the rhetoric, to sit quietly and seek the truth? We are all truly insane to think things will change if we keep repeating the past and expect different results.

1. December, 2000 Speech by Emmad El-Faluji, Minister of Communications, PA
2. Understanding Occupation-paper appearing on SPME website, February, 2005
3. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_war
4. http://www.rotten.com/library/history/ war-crimes/geneva-conventions
5. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_war
6. Rabkin, Jeremy. Lawfare, The Wall Street Journal. July 13, 2004
7. Richard Kuper and Daniella Jaff-Klein,Israeli and International Law, published by Jews for Justice for Palestinians, December, 2004.
8. Beres, Louis Rene, Israel and Gaza, Washington Post, May 27, 2004
9. Gold, Dore. FROM "OCCUPIED TERRITORIES" TO "DISPUTED TERRITORIES" No. 470 3 Shvat 5762 / 16 January 2002

Let's not confuse the truth with facts

Understanding Israeli Occupation

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.
February 7, 2005
Revised March 2007

March 31, 2003: It was 3:30 am in California (I was back in the states for work) and received a phone call-now we all know to receive such a call in this hour usually means bad news, the following is what I was told: at 12:40 pm Israeli time, members of my family headed to our weekly group brunch at our favorite outdoor café, the London in Netanya, Israel. It was simply another day, the weekend had arrived, Spring was in the air and the sun was warmly shining upon everyone. Soon a good meal and lots of laughter with our group was to begin. For some reason that morning, as she exited our bank (part of our Friday morning routine) my mate decided to call the group and suggested they move to another outdoor restaurant. Twenty minutes later eyewitnesses reported that a soldier saw a suspicious-looking Arab attempting to enter the crowded London Cafe in Independence Square, and prevented him from doing so. This terrorist then turned to a group of soldiers walking close by the London, and blew himself up adjacent to them. Dozens injured, many who severely suffer to this day. Intuition saved my mate's life and those of our friends. So much pain, so much destruction, all done on a beautiful Spring day-no one thought as they awoke this morning that a few hours later they would be lying in their own blood and that of many others. How did we arrive at this barbaric act?

The justification for the preceding act of terror and horror is Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. No matter who speaks on behalf of the Palestinian people, its leaders, its terrorist groups or its people, we are told that the illegal occupation by Israel is THE cause of the problems in the area. Before addressing this issue, let the preceding vignette into your mind's eye that one group justifies attacking and murdering innocent civilians as well as soldiers because they say that Israel is illegally on their land. This is normal human behavior? Furthermore, the international community has assisted this kind of thinking by accepting a particular point of view not grounded in fact or truth. If you question Westerners, really quiz them about the context and the perspective surrounding the occupation you discover that many do not know the history, nor do they have a basic understanding of this region of the world. However, they do feel comfortable repeating revisionist history, misrepresented legal statements, and manipulated news stories.

So much has been written about occupation-an internet search alone yields over 2,100,000 hits. With very few exceptions there is always something missing in these pieces-context and perspective! Most of the reports provide only a snapshot of the phenomena called occupation and intentionally do so to support a political position. This kind of reporting clearly misrepresents historical facts and legal documentation.

A gentle reminder before proceeding: reality is a person's perception of events. It does not matter if this perception is supported by the facts or by truth. This is precisely what has occurred with the concept of Israeli occupation. Perception can be managed, even altered by intentionally framing any circumstance, situation or event in a manner that supports an individual or a group's position. Much of the world leadership has acted in accordance with the misperception and misrepresentation of facts-their motivation is self-interest.

Dore Gold1 suggested the following reasons why distortion of the truth serves the Palestinian cause: Three clear purposes seem to be served by the repeated references to "occupation" or "occupied Palestinian territories." First, Palestinian spokesmen hope to create a political context to explain and even justify the Palestinians' adoption of violence and terrorism during the current intifada. Second, the Palestinian demand of Israel to "end the occupation" does not leave any room for territorial compromise in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as suggested by the original language of UN Security Council Resolution 242. Third, the use of "occupied Palestinian territories" denies any Israeli claim to the land: had the more neutral language of "disputed territories" been used, then the Palestinians and Israel would be on an even playing field with equal rights. Additionally, by presenting Israel as a "foreign occupier," advocates of the Palestinian cause can de-legitimize the Jewish historical attachment to Israel.

Let us put into context two primary arguments supporting the idea that Israel illegally occupies Palestine: history of the region and international law that purports to sanction Palestinian positions.

For purposes of this paper the historical timeline begins 1947/1948 and yet what occurred prior to this date is also necessary as it provides an expanded context for events that took place after 1948. Let's begin by agreeing that Jews and Arabs resided in what is known today as Israel Proper as well as in the territories called Gaza and the West Bank during this time.

History tells the tale:

On November 29, 1947 Palestine's Arab leadership rejected the United Nations' plan to partition the country into a Jewish and an Arab state.

On May 14, 1948 Israel became a sovereign country recognized by the United States and many other countries as a member of the world community of nations. The British (recognized legal controlling agents of this area) left the country- Five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel.

The Arab countries were defeated and then they signed armistice agreements with Israel in 1949, starting with Egypt (Feb. 24), followed by Lebanon, Jordan and Syria (July 20). None of the Arab states would negotiate a peace agreement.

Roughly 650,00 Arabs left Israel and around 650,000 Jews were expelled from surrounding Arab countries during the War of independence (numbers vary depending on your political connection). The Jews were absorbed into Israel while the abandoned Arabs were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands they ran to in spite of the vast Arab territory adjacent to Israel.

Crucial to note two distinctions: the Arabs were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders who promised to rid the land of Jews while the Jews were expelled, they lost everything, homes, monies, clothing, books-everything. Fleeing Arabs lost as well. Please note that 68% of the Arabs left Israel never seeing an Israeli militia or soldier. Second distinction to note is that of the 100,000,000 refugees created since WWII, the Arab (Palestinian) group is the ONLY ONE in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples' lands. Please also note that 150,000 Arabs did remain inside Israel Proper (now numbering 1.2 million) and they were granted Israeli citizenship. These Arabs have their own political parties, are members of the Israeli Knesset, and have all the citizenship privileges as Jews in Israel. The freest Arabs live in Israel!

An observation by a Palestinian who was a child in 1948- Sarah El Shazly2: The fact is that the Arab world warned us against staying with the Jews. They also warned us that Arabs were going to fight the Zionists and that Palestinians should leave to avoid getting hurt. Many trusted these Arab leaders and left as instructedÉmy family stayed homeÉJews begged Arabs to stay and live with themÉthe ones who remained still live there today and prosper.

Her next remark bares repeating and remembering: Palestinians have gotten the short end of the stick in Arab society. It suits Arab leaders to keep this group in a state of poverty and conflict and to channel all resentment toward the Jews. You don't believe me? Ask yourself why Jordan or Egypt or Syria never gave the Palestinians a country?

Up until 1948, Gaza and Judea and Samaria (West Bank) were part of the British Mandate. Let's get history correct-both Egypt and Jordan illegally occupied the respective territories of Gaza and the West Bank from 1948-1967. Jordan illegally annexed this territory-neither international law nor the Arab countries recognized Jordan's annexation.

From 1948/1950 until 1967 Egypt and Jordan controlled and ruled over their respective territories. They established refugee camps for the fleeing Arabs, never developed an infrastructure for them and life was difficult.

Another observation by Sarah El Shazly: Let's go to the refugees ... (the Arabs) they stuck Palestinians in camps with deplorable living conditions. Why didn't they (Jordan and Egypt) leave them alone in their homes? Why promise them refuge and reward them with nothing more than prison camps? And most of all why didn't they provide Palestinians with homes in the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights when Arabs had control over them?

It is crucial to note that not once, during this occupation by Arab states was there a move toward Palestinian nationalization. Not until 1967 did Arab refugees begin to identify themselves as part of a Palestinian people-this is 20 years after the establishment of the state of Israel and under the administration of fellow Arabs.

In 1967, after the six-Day War, these territories (originally meant for the Jewish nation's homeland according to the British mandate charter) returned to Israeli control.

Yes, Israel has been inside the two territories from the 1967 War until today. A reminder, Israel was attacked by Arab nations; all sovereign countries-Israel defeated them in six days. This gets us to the legal myths that surround these same territories.

International Law explains why Israel is allowed into these disputed territories:

If one uses international law and/or resolutions to justify its claim, then one must be prepared to accurately clarify his/her position given the provided documents. In addition, when others or I call into question the interpretation or truthfulness of the use of these same documents, be prepared to defend the position rather than misdirect the conversation to another topic. Policy based upon lies, revisionist history and misrepresentation of the truth is illegal, immoral and unethical. In order to truly understand the rationale for a law or resolution you must also place this within the historical context of the time; there is a cause and effect relationship.

Former Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court3 wrote in the 1970s that there is no de jure application of the fourth Geneva Convention regarding occupied territories to the case of Gaza or of the West Bank. Why? Illegal occupation is based upon the assumption that there had been a sovereign who was ousted and that he had been a legitimate sovereign. Thus, those who use the Geneva Convention to justify Palestine's current status are incorrect; if they continuously use this argument they are lying. Why? There was and currently is no such country known as Palestine. It is important to understand that in many other cases in recent history (Cyprus, Kurile Islands, Abu Musa) in which a country's border was crossed due to armed conflict and had its sovereign territory seized, the term of occupation was never used-it seems only when it comes to Israel that the stigma as Israel the aggressor has gained wide spread acceptance.

From Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian spokesperson and darling of CNN to Mustafa Barghouti, Marwan Barghouti (jailed head of PLO Fatah), university professors and TV's commentators, they all repeat the mantra of illegal occupation as the root cause of the problems. Curiously, if you listen carefully or read with due diligence you are often hard pressed to learn which international law they are referring. If they do refer to some international law they either talk in generalities, never addressing the specific part of the law that justifies their position or they misrepresent a document as being international law, e.g., UN Resolution 194.

I am not an international lawyer so read my comments as one who examines the world critically and carefully after having thoroughly examined the presented material. It is safe to say that international jurists make a clear distinction between situations of aggressive conquest and territorial disputes that are the result from a war of self-defense. The noted former Head of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Stephen Schwebel4, wrote in 1970: Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title. This statement requires an accurate accounting of historical events in order for the truth to be told. There is a direct and binding relation between international law and facts on the ground. Historical sequence of events is critical to understand resultant legal documents. For Judge Schwebel's statement to matter, understand that June 5, 1967, Israel only entered the West Bank after repeated Jordanian artillery fire as well as ground movements across the armistice borders. Jordan began their action at 10 am, Israel warned Jordan via the UN at 11 am, the attacks continued. Therefore, at 12:45 pm Israel took proper military action. Jordan's actions had revoked the validity of the armistice signed with Israel. This alone gave Israel legal right to enter the West Bank.

The most abused resolutions used against Israel are UN Resolutions 194 and 242. Palestinian leaders, its people and other supporters use these documents regularly to claim that these resolutions give Palestinians the right of return to Israel and right of the land in the territories. These claims are inaccurate, incorrect and baseless. Those who say otherwise are ignorant, intellectually lazy or intellectually dishonest, or have a political agenda contrary to Israel's rights in these same territories.

UN resolutions fall into two categories: those emanating from the General Assembly and those coming out of the Security Council. Resolutions from the General assembly are not binding legally and serve only as recommendations, e.g., UN 194. Those resolutions exiting the Security Council are binding, e.g., UN242/338 and the international membership of the United Nations have agreed to honor such resolutions. For specifics on each of the afore-mentioned resolutions much has been written-go to the internet and you will find hundreds of thousands of sites.

UN Resolution 194

Created December 11,1948 to address the refugee issue which was the result of Israel's War of independence-it was a non-binding document.

It recommended that the Arab states and Israel resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations

The UN recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that could endanger its security. Thus, the suggested solution to this problem, like in all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Arabs to be resettled in Arab lands.

At this moment in history, Israel did not expect the refugees to be a major issue; Israel thought the Arab states would resettle the majority of the people and that compromise on the others would be forth coming.

Arab states rejected this UN resolution!

Interesting that at the time in history when this resolution was created, Arabs flat out rejected it. Now, it is the resolution they hang their hat on when it comes to justifying their actions.

The current dispute over the territories is allegedly the result of Israel's decision to occupy, rather than as a result of a war imposed upon Israel by the coalition of Arab states in June of 1967. However, UN Resolution 242, which serves as the basis for the 1991 Madrid Conference, precursor to Oslo, and the so-called 1993 Declaration of Principles, gave Israel rights within the territories. I know this is contrary to what is common knowledge and accepted belief. This resolution has been the corner stone of the PA's stance toward occupation. To put this politely, the PA and almost all other Arab nations and some Western nations have intentionally misled the public with regards to what the resolution said and required of all parties.

UN Resolution 242

Created November 22,1967 to serve as guidelines for a peace settlement to the 6-day war.

The most controversial clause in UN 242 is: Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict-this is THE portion of the resolution that Palestinian and other Arabs use to justify that Israel is illegally occupying their land.

It is worth repeating that the words the or all and the June5, 1967 lines were not used in the language of this resolution. The history of this document is a paper unto itself and the topic is worth re-visiting to best understand my words. Thus 242 only speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of the withdrawal-this according to Arthur Goldberg, American Ambassador to the UN in 1967. This implicitly indicates that Israel has rights in these same territories.

Clearly stated in this resolution is the notion that Israel would not be required to withdraw without prior agreement of peace. In other words, the resolution does not make Israel leave as a prerequisite for Arab action.

UN 242 does not specify how much territory Israel is required to give up

The resolution clearly requires Arab states to make peace with Israel and demands secure and recognized boundaries.

Finally, it is important to remember that Palestinians are NOT mentioned anywhere in this resolution. Nor does it require that Palestinians be given any territory or political rights. On Oct. 15, 1968 the PLO rejected UN 242.

Fact :the use of the generic term refugees. This was used to deliberately acknowledge there were two refugee problems-the Arabs and the Jews.

These are but the highlights of a few of the legal arguments used to falsely claim that Israel is illegally occupying the territories. It is true that Israel had taken up occupancy in the West Bank and Gaza territories as was and is their legal right to do so. Israel is well within her legal rights to be in these areas according to the UN resolutions I have presented as well as some documents I have not shared due to limited space. Couple the documents with historical statements and behavior (context), and you can better understand the truth. How do today's PA leaders, media analysts and university professors reconcile the following examples of occupancy discourse with their own justifications? The PLO's first leader an Egyptian, Ahmed Shukairy is remembered for saying on May 31, 1956, to the UN Security Council: It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.

Is this not another disconnect from the revised history you have learned? I find it amazing that using the PLO's own words of record, using their own published documents that the world has remained so gullible.

Additionally, upon examination of the PLO Charter, Article 24, the claims that the West Bank or Gaza are part of "historic Palestine" are nonsense-here is, in part, what their own document says: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, [or] on the Gaza Strip...

There is ample international legal evidence, legal opinion and legal testimony that has established Israel's legal rights to these territories. From the 1922 League of Nations mandate, to the United Nation's Article 80 of its Charter, to UN resolution 181, through to UN 242. As interpreted by a multitude of legal scholars, Israel has justification for its case concerning the territories of Gaza and the West Bank. I do find it most interesting that the international community has chosen to look the other way or use other self-serving interpretations for events that have happened in the following locales: Kashmir, Azerbaijan, Western Sahara, and many others.

Oslo Accords (I & II)

Signed September 13, 1993 the Oslo Accords were signed and they provided an opportunity for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Accords clearly gave Israel permission to be in the territories that are in dispute to this day.

It is crucial to understand that the Oslo Accords were yet another attempt to develop a peace agreement with the Palestinians -these accords are a continuation of decades old process that had their start after the 6-day war in 1967 with continuation after the 1973 war-two wars in which Arab countries attacked Israel.

On September 28, 1995 Israelis and Palestinians signed yet another deal known as the "Interim Agreement" or "Oslo 2." This agreement allowed for a second stage of autonomy for the Palestinians, giving them self-rule in the cities of Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarm, parts of Hebron and 450 villages, while allowing Israeli-guarded Jewish settlements to remain.

The Oslo 2 agreement divided the West Bank and Gaza into three areas, each with distinctive borders and rules for administration and security controls: Areas A (the Palestinian Authority now has full responsibility for internal security and public order, as well as full responsibility for civil affairs), B (Israel maintains overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism), C (Israel retains full responsibility for security). This agreement, signed by the Palestinian leadership, gives Israel overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism.

Furthermore, on Oct. 26, 1994, Jordan relinquished West Bank control to Israel and just with this fact alone, one cannot authentically argue that Israel is an occupier.

Note that 98 per cent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has come under Palestinian jurisdiction and has also transferred 40 spheres of civilian authority to the PA. With these agreements Israel was granted legal rights to the territories and was and continues to be legally allowed to be inside these same territories.

International law (Geneva Convention, article 6; Hague Regulations) land is considered occupied when it is under the actual control of the occupier. Even the most reluctant observer must admit that since Oslo, Israel has not occupied the territories

To this day, the agreed upon stages of the Accords (Interim Plan) have yet to be realized. A second Intifada is currently being waged against Israel, Road Map not withstanding.

You can't abuse and misrepresent international agreements to justify your position and then turn around and dismiss these same agreements as anti-Arab and/or as anti-Muslim when we challenge the Palestinian interpretation and contradictory use of these same agreements.

We live in a world committed to co-existence. For this to occur we either all live by a set of common agreements or we live in anarchy produced through terrorism, fear and war. I understand that today's generation of Palestinian youth and young adults as well as much of generation X in the West believe that Palestine has been illegally occupied by Israel-why? There are two reasons: the Palestinian leadership made a conscious decision to teach and preach revised history, they made Palestinians victims, they distorted the legal facts and have intentionally misled two generations; it is time for the truth to be told. For politicians to act as they do, this is another story, well worth an explanation!

Additionally the press has not served as the critical voice the public deserves or expects from its media and it accepted revisionist history thereby erroneously creating an improper context of events as they have unfolded here in our area of the world. Although true that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion; however, you are not entitled to make up your own facts!

1 Gold, Dore, From occupied Territories to disputed territories, posted Jerusalem Letter, Jan.16, 2002
2 El Shazly, Sarah, What Really happened in 1948?, posted Front Page magazine, December 28, 2004
3 Shamgar, Meir, Former Chief justice of Supreme Court argued in contrast to President Carter's position subsequently the Reagan and Bush administrations changed the legal determination in the 1980's
4 Schwebel, Stephen, International Court of justice, as reported by Dore Gold, Jan.16, 2002