Friday, October 15, 2010

Oren's Op-ed Responded To

The the letters published in the NYTimes on Amb. Michael Oren's op-ed

and mine they didn't publish:

Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, slightly misquotes a section of the League of Mandate decision that is the international legal basis for the establishment of the Jewish state ("An End to Israel's Invisibility", Oct. 13). According to Oren, "the League of Nations cited the 'historical connection of the Jewish people' to that country as 'the grounds for reconstituting their national home'." A close reading of the document reveals that the exact language is as follows: "recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country". Whereas Oren's version is that the "historical connection" is the "grounds" for the reconstitution of the Jewish national home, the text states that there are two foundational elements: (a) an historical connection and (b) grounds.

I would suggest that the term "grounds" should be interpreted as recognizing that the Jewish people are not solely a religious group or an ethnic community but a people, with a distinct national culture, language and a national territory. Not every historical connection justifies a distinct national reality. Moreover, these "grounds" were highlighted so to offset claims not only by Jews who denied any nationalist character to the Jewish people (we know the Balfour Declaration was opposed by assimilationist British Jews and others) but, naturally, by anti-Semites. The anathema to which leaders of the Palestinian Authority treat the demand of Israel to be recognized as the Jewish state indicates that there are grounds to believe that no peace will ever be possible in any geographical configuration. Indeed, the implication is that it is the state of Israel itself which is still "disputed territory" in Arab eyes.


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