Covenant Connection

Volume 17.2
November 2023/Kislev 5784

 Palestinians Over God

International Law and Eretz Israel

You know you’re dealing with powerful stuff: ancient prophecies about modern history and current affairs, stated and stated emphatically by the Jewish people and the Bible’s prophets over millenia, and then, mostly in modern times, transformed into action.

It didn’t have to go this way. For many, many centuries it seemed like it wouldn’t, the Jewish People coming back to the Land of Israel, Eretz Israel:

"I shall plant them upon their own land, and they shall be no more plucked up" (Amos 9:15)

"He that scattered Israel will gather and guard him as a shepherd his flock" (Jeremiah 31:9)

"All nations shall call you happy, for you shall be a delightsome land" (Malachi 3:12)

"He will assemble the dispersed of Israel" (Isaiah 11:12)

"the ransomed of the LORD shall return with singing to Zion" (Isaiah 35:10)....

These are nation-specific, unique, compelling prophecies, and we today aren’t just humbled and astonished but blessed to see them being fulfilled, spectacularly, in our time - in just the last few generations.

The Jews - particularly after the Holocaust - are back in Israel in numbers. Most of the world won't see it this way, but when you talk of Hebrews settling and improving the Land of Israel, building homes there, you're talking about something extremely unexpected, despite it being prophesized.

The return of the People of Israel to Israel is a profoundly remarkable and certainly at least arguably miraculous phenomenon, or sets of phenomena, "making the deserts bloom," astoundingly and against all expectations winning fierce wars, succeeding economically, creating a free society... This is something having all of the earmarks of something proceeding from Providence.

Opposing Providence is not smart. These are primary Biblical themes, from the very heart – the oldest and holiest parts - of the Bible. They are generally perceived as being indisputably sacred to Christians of every domination and - naturally - to Jews.

Even beyond that, any reasonably well-informed person and every believing (or even half-believing) Jew or Christian should be able to recognize that God, the Ultimate Power, or anyway, at least, Something Entirely Mysterious, has had a hand in making this happen.

It is, very evidently, His will - expressed clearly enough in Biblical prophecy, for sure, but also in the modern history of Israel and the modern-time "Wars of the Lord" (See Numbers 21:14, and Exodus 17:14)... of the countless battles fought, and in the astonishing flourishing of the Land -  to convey complete dominion of the little Land of Israel to one people and one people only. It's not a huge land - it's just a sliver of Eurasia near Africa - but it's wholly given over, not to the Children of Ishmael, the Arab Nation, which claims it, and not to any other nation, either, only to God's "first-born son," ("Israel is My first-born son," Exodus 4:22), the Jewish People.

Leave it to the human race to screw it up

The basis for claiming that the People of Israel's return to the Land of Israel is a war crime - which is, at this writing, the prevailing opinion among informed and supposedly enlightened humankind in our time – is radically thinner, more shaky and insubstantial than any reasonable, dispassionate onlooker would guess.

The nations tried, after World War II, to codify a ban on doing what the Nazis did, involving forcible transfers, deportation and harsh resettlement of civilian populations. The Nazis did this sort of things particularly to Jews, of course, and this is a law - Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention “relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,” dated August 12, 1949 - banning nations from doing what the Nazis did to the Jews.

Besides seeming a little like "closing the barn door after losing the horses," this statute, ironically, has never been applied at any time in any context - except ... against the Jews!

Worldwide, evil governments savagely uproot different populations, of "foreigners" or their own populations, banishing them, forcing them to relocate, killing, torturing, robbing and raping them - but Article 49 has only ever been invoked against ... guess who?

It should go without saying that the scholars and diplomats who devised this piece of legislation were highly literate men and women entirely familiar - Biblical literacy in Europe was nearly universal - with the Bible's myriad promises to Israel and man, that the Jews should and would be returning to the Holy Land, to reestablish Israel in the Land of Israel.

In the shadow of the Holocaust, even any atheists among those jurists probably felt averse to creating any more trouble for the Jewish people, as by preventing any re-establishment of Jewish life in any part of the Land of Israel that any other nation claimed. And it follows, and it's very evident, that they wrote the law carefully, deliberating over every word, to keep it from being perversely misused.

But just give folks a chance to mess up good things....

Whether the People of Israel have acquired tenure in the Land of Israel through inheritance, or Biblical decree, through purchase from human land-holders, through settling and improving abandoned wastelands, or – obviously - through conquest in desperate defensive wars, this is undisputed:

Not one inch of the land where Israel is sovereign, which used to be part of the Turkish Empire, was part of or belonged, legally, to any sovereign country!

Gaza wasn't Egypt. The heart of the Holy Land, Judea and Samaria, a/k/a "the West Bank" of the Jordan River (as the Jordanians named it), was occupied by the Kingdom of Jordan by force of arms but didn't legally belong to it. The Golan Heights in the north was never "internationally recognized" as being inherently Syrian.

This matters. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention was carefully written, to criminalize Nazi-like oppression, where a powerful country steals - expropriates - another country's territory. NONE of the real estate now being described as illegally occupied by Israel belonged to other countries!

Incidentally, this is a little off-point, but anyone with a globe or world map will recognize that we're not speaking here of vast territories.

The whole of "Green Line Israel" (Israel after the 1949 armistice), plus "the disputed territories," could fit within Lake Michigan, or the state of New Jersey, with room to spare. The Arab world is not land-poor! But as far as Israel's enemies are concerned, the whole of the Holy Land is "disputed territory," given the Jew-haters' oft-expressed ambition to "liberate" it all - that is, to "cleanse" it entirely of Jews - "from the river to the sea."

Most of the world, despite Article 49's clear wording, and plenty of expert jurists' emphatic declarations that Israel never "illegally occupied" anything following the 1967 Six Day War, firmly adheres to the profoundly asinine proposition that Article 49 applies to Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and Gaza, and that the presence of Jews in Jerusalem and Judea is a war crime.

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the territory it occupies.” That’s it. That’s Article 4.

Written and designed to ban Nazi-style ethnic cleansing through government-compelled forcible population transfers, those few words have been absurdly re-interpreted to turn pious Jewish civilian families' hopeful purchasing of mortgages in the historic heartland of the Jewish People, to live Jewish lives there - into criminal violations of international law, or, basically, war crimes.

This is ridiculous. The popular catchphrase, heard every day on television, in newspapers and the internet, "illegally occupied Jewish settlements in the West Bank," is a grotesque caricature and mind-blowing perversion of law.

If Article 49 were ever applied to the settlement of the Americas as it is to the return of the people Israel to the land of Israel, it would damn all the white pioneers,  immigrants and settlers as war criminals!

Against the plain Nazi-fighting intent of the framers of the law, obviously, later generations came up with a much more “woke,” “anti-colonialist” transformation of it.

This ridiculous result insults even the idea of man-made law! It puts in doubt man’s capacity to self-govern.

If Israel returning to Israel, against all the claims and obstacles and viciousness of all the myriad Jew-haters, constitutes colonialism, then we had all better re-think what is colonialism!


By Michael Dallen
First Covenant Foundation
November 2, 2023


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