Why Danny Ayalon’s video is driving the Palestinians mad

Truth about the West Bank

The truth about the West Bank

Finally, Israel is beginning to make its case articulately, as Melanie Phillips writes today. Danny Ayalon’s video, The Truth about the West Bank, has enraged the Palestinians and here’s why:

Until now, however, Israel’s spokesmen have largely ignored the fact that many in the west who have swallowed the demonisation propaganda wholesale are galvanised by a sincere commitment to concepts of justice and law. Instead, Israel concentrated mainly on emphasising its need for security, ignoring the devastating impact of Arab propaganda being peddled by useful idiots and worse in the west. As a result, it was not so much speaking to but over the head of a western public which had no interest in Israel’s security, since it believed that any such problem was the result of Israel’s defiance of international law. This left the field wide open for the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza to commandeer for themselves – entirely mendaciously – the language of justice and law.

Now Israel’s deputy foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, has signalled a welcome change of strategy with a short video he has fronted here. In this he sets out the true facts: that Israel did not steal the West Bank from its true owners…

Jonathan Tobin, writing in Commentary Magazine, says much the same things:

For far too long, Israeli diplomats have spent much of their time trying to avoid the basic arguments about the Middle East conflict. Rather than take every possible opportunity to hammer home the facts about why Israel is in the West Bank and the right of Jews to live there, the country’s foreign ministry has instead often concentrated its energies on smoothing over differences. It has also sought to avoid the arguments entirely with well-intentioned but largely pointless efforts to “brand” Israel in such a way as to make people think about pretty girls, beaches and scientific innovations.

But Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has ignored this convention and created a clever and informative six-minute  YouTube video answering the question of “The Truth About the West Bank.” This is driving the Palestinian Authority up the wall.

PA negotiator Saeb Erekat issued a statement last week claiming that by asserting Israel’s historical rights to the West Bank and debunking the conventional wisdom that claims the territory is “illegally occupied,” Israel is pursuing a “pro-conflict agenda.” Erekat went on to assert Ayalon’s video is filled with false information showing Israel is “denying the Palestinian people their inalienable right to self-determination.”

But all Ayalon does is tell the basic truth about the history of the last century. Israel did not capture the West Bank in 1967 from the Palestinians but from Jordan in a war of self-defense. Jordan had illegally occupied the area as well as half of Jerusalem in the course of its participation in a war to destroy the newborn state of Israel in 1948. Ayalon also says something that is indisputably true but almost never mentioned in the mainstream media: Jews were guaranteed the right of settlement in the West Bank by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

Tobin’s final paragraph, like Melanie Phillips opinion, should be taken to heart by all spokesmen for Israel:

So long as the Palestinians talk of rights and the Israelis speak of security, the Palestinians will win the argument every time. Thus, it’s no surprise Erekat and the Palestinians are so exorcised by Ayalon’s video. If it becomes, as it should, the model for a new Israeli diplomatic offensive, the deputy foreign minister’s mantra that the terms “illegal occupation” and “67 borders” are “simply not politically correct” will become an effective talking point for the country’s defenders.

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8 Responses to Why Danny Ayalon’s video is driving the Palestinians mad

  1. At .last!! An Israeli governmental definition of my position vis a vis the 1920 San Remo Accords, as amended in 1922. Beautifully done, Ayalon keeps the KISS principle intact. Virtually all other nations created under the 1992 amended accords are still sovereignly defined today as they were in 1922 . Wars have been fought to maintain that condition, with allied support, including Arab nations, … such as “Desert Storm” in Kuwait and Iraq. The 1922 San Remo borders of Israel (aka Jewwish Homeland) are precisely those extant today including Judea and Sumaria. Period. All the palaver about “territores”, “occupation,” et al ad nauseum, are distractions invented to deny a simple historical fact.

    Currently I am reading everything I can about the place I visit 2-3 times a year, Montana and northern Wyoming, in the area of the Absaroka Mountains, the Beartooths, and the Big Horn Mountains. The history is bloody and arbitrary. Two distinctly different cultures clashed. In reality there was no easy solution, only the one imposed eventually, which more or less eradicated the native one. I know that such a solution is anathema to Jews, given their history and culture. While I try to reconcile today in Montana with the historic past of the 19th century (not so long ago, really … we in the USA are a v-e-r-y young national culture) it occurs to me that I have no solution, I can think of none, better than the one imposed eventually. I understand what the Lakota War Chief “Crazy Horse” believed and felt, as well as understanding why he had to die, under deceptive circumstances, for anything else to survive. I understand how another Chief, “Gall,” found accommodation and changed enough to survive, and more importantly let his people survive….just as the last Comanche Chief, Quanah Parker, did in the southern plains, once called “Comancheria.”

    In my idealism, perhaps naive, I still look to Israel to find and implement a better solution on their borders and within them. It just may be the last vestige of “faith” that I have left.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for your interesting comment Aridog. It’s always very instructive to read other nations’ histories and see the parallels, and also where we might be able to do better.

      I see what you’re getting at, that perhaps Israel can achieve better than just simply imposing a solution on the whole area. It would be nice to think we could impose our will like America did, but times have changed and it’s not possible in today’s climate; just like I don’t think the solution imposed in Montana and elsewhere in the US with the Indian tribes would be politically possible today.

      Your faith in Israel’s diplomatic ability is touching (and I hope not misguided :-) ). I hope our diplomats and leaders can come up with a workable solution eventually. Whether the other side and the rest of the world will accept it is another matter entirely.

  2. Earl says:

    Ayalon is to be commended, but commences his video monologue on an incorrect premise- and makes the same errors that Ben Gurion, Eshkol, etc. did six decades ago. Here’s why:

    True, Aridog has been banging on about the importance to Israel of the San Remo convention for aeons. But my recent research (FWIW) in reading Norman Grief’s analyses, suggests that Ari is absolutely correct. IL has every right to deny the illegal British transfer of sovereignty to the Hashemite losers of the al-Sauds’ “Ikhwan Wars” in the Hijaz in creating the “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”- this was an illegal action which should be accorded no status in international law. Succinctly, Jordan itself is an illegal, artificial colonial construct.

    Ergo, IL should simply assert legal and historical claim to Judaea and Samaria. Let Ayalon amend his monologue to reflect accurately the reality of Israel’s foundational history. End of story.

    • anneinpt says:

      Ergo, IL should simply assert legal and historical claim to Judaea and Samaria

      You’re quite write in your assertion Earl, but I think we need to let the Arabs and the rest of the world absorb what Ayalon said first. It does approach your idea in any case. Once that has sunk into their thick heads then we can move on to your idea.

      Baby steps…

      • Earl says:

        The Arabs/RoW have absorbed it, annie. And rejected it absolutely- dar al Islam v. dar al-harb, and all that. The genesis of the troubles in the ME is geo-religious at its heart.

        I reckon that the Hashemites should be worried, what with both a restive “Palestinian” cohort representing ~70% of Jordan’s population and the basis of the Jordanian state subject to challenge under international law.

        Once the natgas revenues come onstream, it will be interesting to watch how (or whether?) the IL government advances such position.

  3. Tzemach Bloomberg says:

    Hereunder is a copy of an e-mail I recently sent out to all on my mailing list.
    Maybe your readers would be interested in proof regarding the “Facts”.
    TB.
    Israel’s legal status in the so-called “West Bank” is disputed by amongst others, the United States State Department.
    Are the legal experts at the State Department more knowledgeable that the three internationally recognized Jurists listed below, who all say that Israel’s title to the land of Judea and Samaria are all bound by international law and conventions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Goldberg

    As a key drafter of Resolution 242 of the United Nations Security Council, (See Wikipedia article below as reference to Resolution 242), Goldberg should know quite well what the original intention was and what was not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_M._Schwebel

    As to Judge Schwebel’s contention (See Wikipedia article below and then scroll down to What Weight to Conquest? by ICJ President Stephen M. Schwebel as reprinted and 5 June 2008 and go to the date 5 June 2008).
    Judge Schwebel is adamant that Israel can hold on to the whole of Judea and Samaria for as long as it is necessary for her defence and says that Israel (My Italics), has more right over the territories than either Egypt or Jordan. Nowhere is Palestine or Palestinians mentioned.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_V._Rostow

    Also one of those who helped the drafting of resolution 242, he was very much involved in the language which formulated the final resolution.

    Not only is the US State Department and the Secretary General of the United Nations pushing for Israel to give up all of Judea and Samaria, the Israeli left and media are also trying to delegitimize Israeli settlements and government policy in the area. They seem to forget that Israel is a democracy, (the only one in the Middle East) and at the last elections, the majority of the electorate gave the government a mandate regarding Judea and Samaria. Thus money spent there, facilities provided, buildings erected, etc., etc., are not against international law and are perfectly legal.

    The only problem is that the present government of Israel does not bring up these facts at every opportunity.
    Only recently, for the first time, I received a link to a U-Tube short, featuring the Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, making the statement that Judea and Samaria should, at best be labeled “Disputed” territory and not conquered territory.
    This is not correct, as by virtue of the decision taken by the old “League of Nations, the whole area west of the Jordan River, was mandated to be a Jewish state as per the Balfour Declaration. The only proviso was that the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities in these areas not be compromised and that the rights and political status of Jews in any other country, not be compromised.
    Can anybody say in all honesty, that the rights of Jews in ANY other country, (especially the Arab countries), have been maintained.
    Check the following link to confirm this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandate_Palestine

    So please, let’s not hear of any further condemnation of Israel and how the poor “Palestinians” have been treated.
    The basic problem in the Middle East is not Israel’s willingness to compromise, it is the Arabs not willing to recognize a Jewish State in any part of the Middle East.

    The Chief negotiator for the Palestinians, Said Arekat, stated after Yassir Arafat signed the Oslo accords, that Arafat could sign whatever he wanted, the Palestinians would not be satisfied until they had a Palestinian State from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. So how can he negotiate in good faith.
    This is the real reason for the conflict!

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Tzemach for your very interesting and informative comment. I have a link to the legality of the settlements in my sidebar which mentions most of the points you have raised.

  4. Pingback: The Lieberman fiasco | Anne's Opinions

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