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Rejoinder to ‘Is UN Creation of Israel a Myth? Ask Foreign Policy Journal’

Israel National News (INN) has published an op-ed about my essay “The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel“, in which they asked Dr. Mordecai Nisan, a lecturer at Hebrew University, to respond. There are two observations to be made about this op-ed: First, it does not actually refute so much as a single point of fact or logic from my article, and, second, Dr. Nisan in fact acknowledges that my thesis is correct.

Palestine Post“Of course it is a myth to assert or believe that the U.N. created Israel,” Dr. Nisan admits in his reply. One might think that, since there is agreement on this point of fact, there would be not much else to debate. What he challenges, however, is not the thesis itself, but the corollary that the Zionist leadership lacked any legal foundation for their unilateral declaration of the establishment of the state of Israel.

“It is transparently true that Israel’s founding came through the sword,” Dr. Nisan acknowledges. But he argues that this use of force was “exercised on behalf of the transcending right of an ancient and integral people, the likes of whose special claim to the Land of Israel no other human collectivity can equal whatsoever.” In other words, the rights of the Jews to the land of Palestine “transcended” the rights of the Arabs, so the Zionist’s use of force to create their Jewish state (at which time more than 700,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Palestine) was therefore legitimate. Dr. Nisan thus presents a racist argument for Israel’s legitimacy – indeed, an anti-Semitic one, as Arabs are also Semites.

I would observe that, in addition to being a racist argument, this in no way negates a single point of fact or logic from my essay. One may claim that Yahweh gave the land to the Jews (a claim not supported by the Bible), but the fact remains – as Dr. Nisan acknowledges – that the U.N. neither created the Jewish state nor conferred upon the Zionist leadership any legal authority to unilaterally declare the establishment of the state of Israel. The theological argument is a separate discussion entirely, with no bearing on my thesis.

Elsewhere, the INN op-ed simply relies upon strawman arguments to make its points. Just to set the record straight, I did not argue in my essay that the General Assembly “had no right to propose the partition plan”. The General Assembly did indeed have the authority, and the duty, to make recommendations towards peaceful resolutions to international conflicts. In this case, however, the point is that by accepting the U.N. Special Commission on Palestine’s (UNSCOP’s) majority recommendation to partition Palestine, it rather inflamed the situation. UNSCOP had explicitly rejected the right of the Arab Palestinians to self-determination. As I noted in the article, the plan called for taking land from the Arabs (the majority comprising 65% of the population, who owned 85% of the land, but who were offered only 45.5% of the territory under the plan) and giving it to the Jews (the minority comprising 33% of the population, who owned just 7 % of the land, but who were offered 55.5% of the territory), and was thus inherently inequitable and unworkable. The only way this plan could have any legal force would have been for both sides to accept it. The Arabs reasonably rejected it. It was thus moot. Neither the U.N. General Assembly nor the Security Council had any authority to implement partition by force, or to confer upon the Zionist leadership any such authority.

I also did not argue that “The Arab population was not given the right to self determination because the U.N. wanted to create the Jewish State”. Firstly, far be it from me to claim that self-determination is something “given”! Self-determination is not a granted privilege, but an inherent and inalienable right. INN’s mischaracterization of what I actually wrote, therefore, only serves to demonstrate its editors’ own ignorance of this elementary principle of morality and law. Secondly, to clarify further, what I stated in my article is that the partition plan was premised upon the explicit rejection of the Arab Palestinian’s right to self-determination. That is not a “claim”, as INN asserts, but a demonstrable fact, acknowledged plainly in UNSCOP’s report itself.

Dr. Nisan creates a similar strawman argument in suggesting that “Hammond … has pointed to force as the only alternative” to partition. Far be it from me to suggest such a thing! In fact, I argued the opposite in my essay, that there were alternative courses of action that could have prevented the tragic war that ensued. The U.N. Security Council, for example, had the authority to declare a threat to the peace and authorize the use of force to prevent the violence the occurred. It had the authority to establish a Trusteeship over Palestine until such time as its inhabitants were prepared to exercise independence without such recourse to violence. And, most importantly, the alternative proposal to partition could have been implemented, which was the Arab proposal to establish an independent state of Palestine in which the rights of the Jewish minority were recognized and protected under a constitution that would guarantee Jewish representation in its legislative body. Yet this democratic solution was rejected by the Zionists, who preferred “the sword”, as Dr. Nisan acknowledges — the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Arabs from the land.

“Hammond’s line of argument leads to the dissolution of the conflict-management or resolution-capacity of the U.N.”, writes Dr. Nisan. This is a non sequitur. As just noted, I in fact argued the opposite in my essay.

Dr. Nisan states that the Jewish minority also had a claim to self-determination. Certainly! Far be it from me to suggest otherwise. But the fact remains that the use of force to acquire territory was then, as it is now, illegitimate under international law. The principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force is emphasized, for example, in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which calls upon Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied during the June 1967 war.

Dr. Nisan states the Arab rejection of the plan was “in breach of the international decision for partition”. Notice the word “breach”, implying a failure to comply with a law, to keep a trust or contractual obligation, etc. The Arabs “breached” nothing in rejecting the plan – a plan which itself, had it been implemented, would have been a breach of the U.N. Charter.

From the premise that the U.N. had no legal authority to implement the partition plan, Nisan draws the corollary that “there is no reason to accept the authority of U.N. [General Assembly] Resolution 194 that calls for Palestinian refugee return.” It would be correct to say that this General Assembly resolution, as all General Assembly resolutions, is legally non-binding. However, Israel is still bound by both formal and customary international law, and the right of return of refugees is a universally recognized right, codified in such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the latter of which Israel is a signatory of.

Dr. Nisan states, “An emasculated U.N. cannot be manipulated to be only good for the Arabs and bad for the Jews when that is politically convenient.” Certainly! Far be it from me to disagree. But Dr. Nisan next states, “Hammond argues that the U.N. did not have a right to create Israel, so then it does not have a right to dissolve its existence under the guise of sanctifying resolution 194 from 62 years ago.” Dr. Nisan thusly attempts to change the subject, but in doing so, does nothing to actually refute anything I wrote. Without getting into the tangential issue of contemporary demographics, once again, that the U.N. did not have a right to create Israel by partitioning Palestine is not a claim, it is a point of fact under the U.N. Charter and international law.

In sum, neither INN nor Dr. Nisan have managed to point to even a single error in either fact or logic on my part in my essay. The facts are as I have stated them, and the logical conclusions drawn inescapable.

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Jeremy R. Hammond

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Jeremy R. Hammond
Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent political analyst and a recipient of the Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. He is the founding editor of Foreign Policy Journal and the author of Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian economics in the financial crisis and The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. His forthcoming book is on the contemporary U.S. role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
  • Paul C. Roberts

    Hammond, a careful scholar is correct in his every point. Any time criminals are
    exposed, they scream accusations, and that is what we have seen from the Zionist responses to Hammond’s correct scholarship.

  • Pingback: Rejoinder to ‘Is UN Creation of Israel a Myth? Ask Foreign Policy Journal’ « Dandelion Salad

  • Pingback: Rejoinder to ‘Is UN Creation of Israel a Myth? Ask Foreign Policy Journal’ « Dr Nasir Khan

    • Nefyn Kguash

      Ironically, if there wasn’t a disagreement on the subject, state of Israel was to be called ‘PALESTINE’… Hard evidence is the name of the newspaper which was the announcment of the birth of the state was made. And one of the very first arab state’s national flag was designed almost identical of the Israeli stae flag now. Except the star.. white background on ecru cotton, two blue bands…
      We want to see world at peace. It is sad to see a country ruled by some young fanatics, who are an automatic planet hazards by all means, until they become old men. Then they try to tell peace is the only way out. If one of them becomes almost an honest ‘Angel of Peace’ a young devil kills him/ Itzak Rabin…
      Peres seems to take from, looses his cool soon!
      UFOS please!

  • Mark Richey

    Isn’t it interesting how much Dr. Nisan’s methodology and tactics resemble those of Jeffrey Blankfort in his character assasination of Noam Chomsky. The same reliance on straw man arguments, and the implicit racism of his argument. The only thing missing is the citation of Biblical authority, and that is implied when Blankfort excommunciates Noam Chomsky by saying he is the ’2010 equivalent of the JDL..””

    • Nefyn Kguash

      Looking at the numbers of peaceful, creative, functioning residents leaving the region for better lives at peace elswhere in the world,
      ‘leavers’ and, then ‘arrivers’ in to the state of Israel and in the neighbouring arab states in the end of all that happened and going on happenning, is there a true future for Israel to co exisist with it’s neighbours? Where is Turkey pushed towards? Is Israel is ‘owned’ by all jewish nation now? If there is to a wordy percentage, how happy they are to be implanted to a land they don’t feel they really belong to? What is in the minds of the everyday people? I waited for over 35 years of my life to see peace come about. No hope left. ‘ Where are the UFOs for God’s sake???’

  • Deepika Betgeri

    Thank you Dr.Hammond for this rejoinder. It indeeds points out the faulty logic of the discussed artcile. Something else that Dr.Nissan mentioned in the article i would like to refute – the comparison drawn with the partition of India to create the state of Pakistan. Being an Indian i am well aware of this history. Though it was the British who stoked Muslim fears abt minority rights not being respected in a Hindu-majority India and actively pushed the plan of partition, it must be pointed out that the Indian National Congress(which represented the Indian majority) finally conceded the partition as an inevitability. There was agreement from both parties to implement the partition – Dr.Jinnah & Muslim League on the Pakistani side and the INC on the Indian side. How can you compare this to the Palestitian conflict when there was no agreement from the Arabs to partition Palestine?

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      Good point. One correction; I’ve no PhD, so no “Dr.” ;)

  • Barry

    Jeremy, how can your print such rubbish, or is it that you just don’t know?

    Your comment “…the Zionist leadership lacked any legal foundation for their unitlatertral declaration.” is patently false, as I’ve mentioned before.

    The San Remo resolutions of April 24,25, 1920, later ratified by the League of Nations in 1922, form an absolute legal basis for the formation of a home for the Jewish people, which turned out to be Israel.

    Perhaps we are working with altogether different definitions here, but there is no doubt that this legal foundation was real and confirmed by the world, WITH the support of the leading Arab clan of time time.

    Please refute if you are so inclined.

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      Barry, how can you deliberately lie when you know the truth? Your claim that San Remo and the League of Nations provided a legal foundation for the unilateral declaration of the existence of the state of Israel is patently false, as I’ve mentioned before. If you wish to keep repeating this claim, you are welcome to provide the documents, and I would be happy to illustrate once again (how many times have we had this discussion?) how it is a lie.

  • Laurent

    “As I noted in the article, the plan called for taking land from the Arabs (the majority comprising 65% of the population, who owned 85% of the land, but who were offered only 45.5% of the territory under the plan) and giving it to the Jews (the minority comprising 33% of the population, who owned just 7 % of the land, but who were offered 55.5% of the territory), and was thus inherently inequitable and unworkable. The only way this plan could have any legal force would have been for both sides to accept it. The Arabs reasonably rejected it.”

    The Arabs already had a record of rejecting several previous partition proposals (the Peel Commissions and/or Woodhead proposals), which offered them a far bigger part of Palestine. Looking at your figures i wonder what actually would have been reasonable for the Arabs to accept: split the land according to population proportions (thus 33% for the Jews) or according to land ownership (thus 7% of the land)?

    Regarding land ownership figures, it looks as if the Arabs owed the whole of Palestine of which the Jews had purchased a mere 7%.
    Wouldn’t it be more honest to offer the exact land status (and figures) to your readers:
    - 8,6% of land owed by Jews
    - 20,2% of land owed by Arabs
    - 71,2% of public land (land administered by the mandatory power) of which over 70% consisted of the negev desert

    Thus it can be argued that both the Arabs and the Jews got more than they owed, while it is worth mentioning that, according to the partition plan, the Jews inherited the entire negev desert (uninhabited arid territory).

    Regards,

    Laurent

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      Yes, the Peel Commission determined that the Arabs would have to “sacrifice” by giving up their land to “help to solve” the “Jewish Problem”. Totally unreasonable and inequitable. But you neglected to mention the Zionists also rejected it. 7% is the correct number for the amount of land owned by Jews. The 85% figure for Arab possession of the land comes from the UNSCOP Report.

  • Laurent

    Hello,

    I will come back regarding the Peel commission proposal and land ownership in details later, but since you seem to analyse the partition proposals from a moral standpoint, i’d like to ask you what you would think would have been a “reasonable” partition of the land? Or do you dismiss any land partition as being immoral or unreasonable, thus implying that the Jews didn’t have a right to their own state on any part of the given region (denying the right of self-determination for the Jewish people)?

    Regards,

    Laurent

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      I think no partition would have been reasonable. I think the democratic solution offered by the Arabs was reasonable, in which there would have been guarantees of protection of the rights of the minority Jews as well as of representation in the legislative assembly in the single state’s constitution. The only rejection of self-determination here is the Zionist’s rejection of the right of the majority Arab population of Palestine to self-determination, a rejection that ultimately manifested itself in the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Arabs from their land.