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January 10, 2008

The Forward's Levy Annapolis Analysis: Rebuttals Are Unwanted


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Daniel Levy


The Forward, a New York-based Jewish newspaper, apparently considers it unnecessary for its readers to see dissenting opinion concerning a particularly questionable column on the recent Annapolis - Middle East talks. "Grasp the Promise of Annapolis" by Daniel Levy, former Israeli government official and Oslo negotiator, appeared in the November 30 issue of the weekly, English-language version of the newspaper.

Subsequently, the Forward declined, for the stated reason of space limitation, to print CAMERA's letter-to-the-editor criticizing the Levy piece, nor did there seem to be any other letter or commentary dealing with it.

Among the problematical aspects of the article, Mr. Levy stated the often repeated falsehood that Israel exists on 78% of the original territory of mandatory Palestine. The truth is that Israel's percentage is only 22%. Perhaps the use of the falsehood is meant to obscure the stark reality of Israel's tiny size (approximately the size of New Jersey) - only 260 miles long, 60 miles wide at its widest point and only 10 miles at its narrowest, most vulnerable point near Tel Aviv.


The CAMERA letter:

Analyzing Annapolis

Daniel Levy, former Israeli government official and Oslo negotiator, urges Israel and its American supporters to jump at what he considers a great chance for peace with the Arabs ("Grasp the Promise of Annapolis," November 30). He writes, "The historic success of 1947 was a territorial division whereby 55% of mandatory Palestine would become a national home for the Jewish people, while 45% would be an Arab-Palestinian state. The prospect held out by the Arab initiative and the Annapolis summit is of Arab, Palestinian and world recognition and support for an Israel on 78% of that original territory."

What 78% is Levy talking about? Israel's current and envisioned portion of the original territory of mandatory Palestine is only 22%, not 78%, since the 1917 Balfour Declaration's "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" was modified in 1921 by Britain, which took 78% of the original territory to create the Kingdom of Transjordan (today's nation of Jordan). The erroneous use of the 78% figure is perhaps meant to obscure the stark reality of Israel's tiny land size (approximately the size of New Jersey) - only 260 miles long, 60 miles wide at its widest point and only 10 miles at its narrowest, most vulnerable point near Tel Aviv.

And what historic success of 1947 is Levy speaking of? If the Arabs had accepted - instead of rejecting - the 1947 U.N. partition plan, the state of Palestine would be about to celebrate its 60th anniversary, side by side with Israel. Moreover, there would not have been a single Palestinian refugee. Instead, in violation of the U.N. Charter and Resolution 181, the Palestinians and then the Arab armies attacked Israel.

While this reality is denied by Levy, it was recognized poignantly by the world-famous Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, who wrote:

When my Palestinian friends demand the right of return I tell them that I would be prepared to bring all the Palestinian refugees back to their homes in Israel on condition that they first bring back to life the 6,000 Israeli dead who were killed during the aggressive war of 1948, when Israel was pleading for its life after the UN partition plan and seeking peaceful coexistence. (Ha'aretz, April 2, 2000)

Yehoshua, a prominent member of the left-leaning "peace camp" in Israel, has not forgotten the history that Levy seems never to have learned.


Posted by MK at January 10, 2008 09:17 PM

Comments

Do not forget Levy's articles in which he endorses the false claim that the Israel lobby bullies and intimidates (self-styled) "critics of Israel.

This covert enemy of Israel was also heavily involved in the preparation of the very dangerous Geneva Accord which treats Israel as the aggressor and tied the hands of the IDF (see Ricki Hollanader's excellent analysis)

For CAMERA readers who know French I refer them to www.guysen.com/articles.php?sid=6046
"Gunther Guillaume et le conte des deux Levy"

Posted by: Paul at January 11, 2008 06:30 AM

You say: "Mr. Levy stated the often repeated falsehood that Israel exists on 78% of the original territory of mandatory Palestine."


What Levy actually writes is:
"The historic success of 1947 was a territorial division whereby 55% of mandatory Palestine would become a national home for the Jewish people, while 45% would be an Arab-Palestinian state." That's true with respect to 1947, is it not? Perhaps he's misused the term "mandatory Palestine" in your eyes, but with respect to the territory that the U.N. addressed in 1947, his proportions are about right.


Look, I'm a financial support of CAMERA, but I don't think it does your credibility much good when you strain your critiques in this manner.

Posted by: Elizabeth at January 11, 2008 04:54 PM

Commenting about this blog entry, Elizabeth raises questions about the assertion that "Mr. Levy stated the often repeated falsehood that Israel exists on 78% of the original territory of mandatory Palestine."

Perhaps a clarification is in order.

Mr. Levy wrote:

"The historic success of 1947 was a territorial division whereby 55% of mandatory Palestine would become a national home for the Jewish people, while 45% would be an Arab-Palestinian state. The prospect held out by the Arab initiative and the Annapolis summit is of Arab, Palestinian and world recognition and support for an Israel on 78% of that original territory."

If one understands Mr. Levy's 78% to be referring to the portion of British Mandate Palestinian that remained in 1947, and there is a case to be made for that interpretation, then Mr. Levy is indeed technically correct. And if one understands Levy's language to be referring to the original territory of British Mandate Palestine -- and his use of the phrase "original territory" could very likely convince readers that this is what he means -- it is incorrect.

That confusion aside, though, a central point raised in the blog entry remains.

Unmentioned in Mr. Levy's piece is in fact that the Arabs -- and not the Jews -- exist on the major portion (more than 78%) of the original British Mandate Palestine, land envisioned as a national home for the Jewish people by the British government's Balfour declaration.

The effect of this omission is to exaggerate the size of the Jewish state; it is even smaller than 22% of mandatory Palestine -- actually closer to a mere 17% (or approximately 78% of 22%) of the original mandate territory.

Moreover, Mr. Levy mentions "78%" five times in his article, the thrust of which, when taken with Mr. Levy's omission of the actual (and arguably dangerously) small parameters of Israel's land - 260 miles, 60 miles, 10 miles - hardly large enough, for example, for a jet fighter aircraft to turn around - is that many readers are likely to believe that the Israelis have ample land and therefore if they are reasonable they would readily and safely relinquish portions of it in the pursuit of a chance for peace.

Posted by: mk at January 18, 2008 12:14 PM

To me, a small lie that's told 1,000 times is far worse than a big lie said onlyonce.

The "smal lie" of which I speak is calling the West Bank, "Palestinian territory (or territories)," or even worse, calling it "Palestine."

Apparently, CAMERA has seen fit to use this misnomer in its responses. Take their response to David Levy above.

In its many rebuttals, CAMERA has often stated the following:

"If the Arabs had accepted - instead of rejecting - the 1947 U.N. partition plan, the state of Palestine would be about to celebrate its 60th anniversary, side by side with Israel."

The proposed Arab state was not called "Palestine," and would not have become "Palestine," since the use of the word to describe not only the disputed territories, but also all of Israel, came into vogue AFTER the Six Day War. There was never any push for PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD at any time before 1967!

And, if the Arabs accepted the state offered to them in 1948, then it would not have been given the title of "Palestine," because Arabs would still refer to Israel as being "Historic Palestine."

Palestinians have no "right of return" to Israel and no right to occupy the West Bank as if it were theirs ans theirs alone.

Jews have just as much right -- actually much more right -- to live there as any Arab who has been living there continuously for as long as Jews have.

Jordan occupied, and illegally annexed, the West Bank from 1948 until 1967. Since Israel reclaimed the West Bank from Jordan following their unprovoked war on Israel, and since Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, including signing over the claims to the West Bank, Israel is not bound legally to give up any of it, and especially not to the enemies of Israel.

Any land acquired from a belligerent nation as the result of a defensive war launched by that nation, is not considered to be occupied by the nation who defended itself against the same aggressor nation. The victim of the aggressor nation has every right to keep possession of that land.

Furthermore, there is nothing in the Geneva Convention to countermand Israel's possession of the West Bank, or to negate Israel's right to defend itself by maintaining control over it.

Any Jewish person who voluntarily migrated to the West Bank to establish a settlement there has broken no international laws. Since practically all of the West Bank settlements were established voluntarily by Israeli citizens on land they legally purchase. There wer no forced transfers of a population from Israel to the West Bank, and likewise there was no forced expulsion of Arabs from the West Bank to make room for them.

Furthermore, neither did Israeli citizens, the Israeli military, or Israeli leaders commit any forced expulsions of Arabs from their homes in Israel to make way for Jewish settlements.

All of what was once called, "Mandated Palestine," had been reserved for all Jews to create upon it their Jewish National Homeland.

When the British stole away 78% of it and gave it to the Hashemite King for the creation of his own state, that state, known today as Jordan, became the de jure and de facto Independent Palestinian State

Posted by: DrRJP at January 19, 2008 12:53 AM

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