The Rising Challenge to Israel's Legitimacy

Israel confronts a looming legitimacy crisis carefully promoted by its enemies. In September the United Nations General Assembly intends to recognize a Palestinian state in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the ancient homeland of the Jewish people where more than 500,000 Jews now live.

To be sure, Israel's legitimacy has been maliciously challenged by the United Nations ever since its notorious declaration in 1975 that Zionism is "racism." But by now Israel, routinely castigated as an apartheid state, confronts depths of international loathing that can only be characterized as "Judeophobic."

Not even Judge Richard Goldstone's restrained recantation of his infamous Report for the UN Human Rights Council two years ago will stem the rising tide of delegitimization that the Jewish state routinely confronts. A withering critique of Israel for intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Goldstone's report -- properly labeled a blood libel -- went instantly viral upon publication. "Unfortunately," Jeffrey Goldberg writes in the Atlantic, "it is somewhat difficult to retract a blood libel once it has been broadcast across the world." Now, however, the South African Jewish judge concedes: "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

Yom Kippur atonement may have come early for Goldstone, but the damage to Israel in the court of world opinion is unlikely to be rectified. His retracted indictment, needless to say, drew considerably less media attention than had the Report itself. Indeed The New York Times, disinclined to highlight any evidence that challenges its incessant critique of Israel, reportedly rejected it for publication. His belated call for the UN Council to now condemn the "heinous acts" of Hamas for its unprovoked rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza is too little two years too late.

Goldstone has yet to retract his call in the Report for the "international community" to prosecute Israelis for alleged war crimes. Nor has he apologized for ignoring evidence that contradicted UN Council claims, or for labeling Gaza as occupied territory four years after the last Israeli soldier and settler had departed. Indeed, as Bar-Ilan law professor Avi Bell has noted, Goldstone still fails to confront Hamas as a terrorist organization. But Israel, Goldstone finally acknowledges, has "the right and obligation" to defend its citizens. How generous of him.

An even greater threat to Israel's legitimacy than the discredited Goldstone Report lies ahead. The UN General Assembly plans to vote in September, by all indications overwhelmingly, to recognize a new state of Palestine. Israel surely will confront waves of international calumny when it fails to comply with any vote that requires its return to what Israeli diplomat Abba Eban famously described as "Auschwitz borders."

"We want to generate pressure on Israel to make it feel isolated," conceded a high Palestinian official. But it is the Palestinians who have rejected every partition plan since the British Peel Commission proposed it in 1938. That came fifteen years after Trans-Jordan, comprising three-quarters of the territory of Mandatory Palestine, had already been removed to become an Arab (now majority Palestinian) state. Palestinians similarly rejected the United Nations partition plan of 1947 to further divide Palestine at the Jews' expense.

"The main obstacle to peace," according to an adviser to Palestinian President Abbas, "has been the settlements" -- although Palestinians (and every Arab country without exception) rejected peace with Israel before the first settlement existed. But even in Israel, few people seem to understand that the widely defamed Jewish settlements are legal under international law dating back to the establishment of the British Mandate for Palestine in 1922. Jews were then granted the right of "close settlement" on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, which now comprises the West Bank and Israel. That right has never been rescinded.

Jewish settlers -- whether in Hebron, where Jews have lived for three thousand years; in Gush Etzion, where kibbutzim were destroyed and their inhabitants ruthlessly murdered in 1948; or Itamar, where five members of the Fogel family were brutally slaughtered only weeks ago -- have no less of a right to live there than in the early Zionist settlements of Rishon l'Tzion and Tel Aviv. Indeed, Zionist pioneers during the pre-state years were routinely called "settlers." Only after the Six-Day War did settlers become Israeli pariahs -- largely because they were religious, not secular, Zionists.

The two thousand year-old "lethal obsession" with Jews, writes Hebrew University historian Robert Wistrich, is the world's "longest hatred." By now, in its most obscene rendering, it has converted Israelis into Nazis who are practicing genocide on Palestinians. But any United Nations decision that justifies the forced expulsion of Jews from their homes will itself replicate historical experiences with which Jews are all too tragically familiar.

Without the Jordan River as its eastern border, or Jewish settlements on the Samarian mountain ridge from which Tel Aviv is visible only a few miles away, an already vulnerable Jewish state will be in dire peril. Such are the inevitable consequences of the vicious delegitimization campaign now being waged against Israel.

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Brothers at War: Israel and the Altalena Tragedy, to be published in May by Quid Pro Books.
Israel confronts a looming legitimacy crisis carefully promoted by its enemies. In September the United Nations General Assembly intends to recognize a Palestinian state in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the ancient homeland of the Jewish people where more than 500,000 Jews now live.

To be sure, Israel's legitimacy has been maliciously challenged by the United Nations ever since its notorious declaration in 1975 that Zionism is "racism." But by now Israel, routinely castigated as an apartheid state, confronts depths of international loathing that can only be characterized as "Judeophobic."

Not even Judge Richard Goldstone's restrained recantation of his infamous Report for the UN Human Rights Council two years ago will stem the rising tide of delegitimization that the Jewish state routinely confronts. A withering critique of Israel for intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Goldstone's report -- properly labeled a blood libel -- went instantly viral upon publication. "Unfortunately," Jeffrey Goldberg writes in the Atlantic, "it is somewhat difficult to retract a blood libel once it has been broadcast across the world." Now, however, the South African Jewish judge concedes: "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

Yom Kippur atonement may have come early for Goldstone, but the damage to Israel in the court of world opinion is unlikely to be rectified. His retracted indictment, needless to say, drew considerably less media attention than had the Report itself. Indeed The New York Times, disinclined to highlight any evidence that challenges its incessant critique of Israel, reportedly rejected it for publication. His belated call for the UN Council to now condemn the "heinous acts" of Hamas for its unprovoked rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza is too little two years too late.

Goldstone has yet to retract his call in the Report for the "international community" to prosecute Israelis for alleged war crimes. Nor has he apologized for ignoring evidence that contradicted UN Council claims, or for labeling Gaza as occupied territory four years after the last Israeli soldier and settler had departed. Indeed, as Bar-Ilan law professor Avi Bell has noted, Goldstone still fails to confront Hamas as a terrorist organization. But Israel, Goldstone finally acknowledges, has "the right and obligation" to defend its citizens. How generous of him.

An even greater threat to Israel's legitimacy than the discredited Goldstone Report lies ahead. The UN General Assembly plans to vote in September, by all indications overwhelmingly, to recognize a new state of Palestine. Israel surely will confront waves of international calumny when it fails to comply with any vote that requires its return to what Israeli diplomat Abba Eban famously described as "Auschwitz borders."

"We want to generate pressure on Israel to make it feel isolated," conceded a high Palestinian official. But it is the Palestinians who have rejected every partition plan since the British Peel Commission proposed it in 1938. That came fifteen years after Trans-Jordan, comprising three-quarters of the territory of Mandatory Palestine, had already been removed to become an Arab (now majority Palestinian) state. Palestinians similarly rejected the United Nations partition plan of 1947 to further divide Palestine at the Jews' expense.

"The main obstacle to peace," according to an adviser to Palestinian President Abbas, "has been the settlements" -- although Palestinians (and every Arab country without exception) rejected peace with Israel before the first settlement existed. But even in Israel, few people seem to understand that the widely defamed Jewish settlements are legal under international law dating back to the establishment of the British Mandate for Palestine in 1922. Jews were then granted the right of "close settlement" on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, which now comprises the West Bank and Israel. That right has never been rescinded.

Jewish settlers -- whether in Hebron, where Jews have lived for three thousand years; in Gush Etzion, where kibbutzim were destroyed and their inhabitants ruthlessly murdered in 1948; or Itamar, where five members of the Fogel family were brutally slaughtered only weeks ago -- have no less of a right to live there than in the early Zionist settlements of Rishon l'Tzion and Tel Aviv. Indeed, Zionist pioneers during the pre-state years were routinely called "settlers." Only after the Six-Day War did settlers become Israeli pariahs -- largely because they were religious, not secular, Zionists.

The two thousand year-old "lethal obsession" with Jews, writes Hebrew University historian Robert Wistrich, is the world's "longest hatred." By now, in its most obscene rendering, it has converted Israelis into Nazis who are practicing genocide on Palestinians. But any United Nations decision that justifies the forced expulsion of Jews from their homes will itself replicate historical experiences with which Jews are all too tragically familiar.

Without the Jordan River as its eastern border, or Jewish settlements on the Samarian mountain ridge from which Tel Aviv is visible only a few miles away, an already vulnerable Jewish state will be in dire peril. Such are the inevitable consequences of the vicious delegitimization campaign now being waged against Israel.

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Brothers at War: Israel and the Altalena Tragedy, to be published in May by Quid Pro Books.

RECENT VIDEOS