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February 01, 1991 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-02-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

COMMUNITY

Teacher Uses International Law
To Analyze Middle East Issues

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM

Assistant Editor.

A

pplying the tech-
niques of interna-
tional law, a Univer-
sity of Michigan professor
proposed an analysis of one
of the most sensitive issues
in the Middle East — the at-
tempt to link the Iraqi inva-
sion of Kuwait with Israel's
presence in the .West Bank
and Gaza.
Speaking last week at
Temple Emanu-El, U-M law
school professor Joseph
Weiler said international
law is dispassionate, gives
both sides an opportunity to
have their say and is
judgmental — making clear
distinctions between right
and wrong.
Offering a dispassionate
look at the Middle East,
Prof. Weiler began his
discussion with a brief histo-
ry of territories now occupied
by Israel: east Jerusalem, the
Golan Heights, the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The last time no one
disputed ownership of these
territories was during the
Ottoman Empire, when con-
querors could freely annex
any land they had won in
battle, he said. During
World War I, the British oc-
cupied the area, pushing the
Turks out and "making a lot
of conflicting promises to all
parties," including Arabs
and Jews in the region.
Then came "the turning
point in international rela-
tions," Prof. Weiler said.
Under pressure from Presi-
dent Woodrow Wilson, the
British decided to turn over
the former Ottoman Empire
to the indigenous peoples.
The land was to be held
under British mandates.
The result was that "Jews
fought the Arabs, the Arabs
fought the Jews, and both
fought the British."
In 1947, the British relin-
quished the mandate. The
United Nations then stepped
in and voted to partition
Palestine — not establishing
any new states, but allowing
the peoples there to do so.
Jews immediately an-
nounced the creation of their
state, Israel, but Arabs liv-
ing in the area did not.
"Had the Palestinians
declared independence,
there would have been a Pa-
lestinian state today," the
professor said. "And the first

to recognize it would have
been Israel."
The U.N. prohibition
against force, except in cases
of self-defense, is "the car-
dinal principle" of interna-
tional law — comparable to
murder in municipal law,
the professor said.
An example of illegal force
occurred when Arab armies
attacked Israel in the War of
Independence. During the
battle, Israel won more ter-
ritory than it had been ac-
corded in the U.N. partition
plan.
hi 1967, Arab forces again
set in motion a war against

Joseph Weiler:
Four possible scenarios.

Israel, including an attack
by Jordanian forces on
Jerusalem.
"When Israel responds (to
that aggression), that is ob-
viously a response in self-
defense," Prof. Weiler said.
Even the U.N. General
Assembly the same body
that passed the "Zionism is
racism" resolution —failed
to condemn. Israel as the ag-
gressor in the 1967 war.
Conversely, the U.N. had
no trouble condemning
Saddam Hussein, who seized
Kuwait without provocation,
he said.
During the 1967 war,
Israel captured east
Jerusalem and the West
Bank. Because it occupied
the areas in a war started by
an opponent, Israel can
rightly claim the need to
temporarily occupy these
places. But it cannot legally
annex east Jerusalem or the
West Bank, the U-M pro-
fessor said.
In its classic Resolution
242, the U.N. calls on Israel
to give up "occupied ter-
ritory," with the omission of

"the" before "occupied ter-
ritory" being intentional, he
said.
Resolution 242 also recog-
nizes Israel's right to secure
borders. That right, coupled
with the ambiguous lang-
uage about the "occupied
territory," suggests changes
in the partition boundaries
might be possible, Prof.
Weiler said.
At the same time, Resolu-
tion 242 states that Israel
must make any such border
changes in the context of a
peace treaty — and this is
where Israel has failed, he
said.
"Israel has not pursued a
peace settlement with good
faith," he said. The govern-
ment tells the world that
Israel wants a peace set-
tlement; but at home,
Israel's position is that it
will never give up the West
Bank.
"And that's not (Prime
Minister Yitzhak) Shamir"
pledging to keep the ter-
ritories, Prof. Weiler said.
"It's the people."
Furthermore, Israel has
consistently violated inter-
national human rights law,
which demands that nations
protect residents in occupied
territories, he said. He cited
Israel's dePortat'on of Pales-
tinians and the demolition of
Arab-owned homes as "open
defiance of the Geneva Con-
vention," to which Israel is a
signatory.
Prof. Weiler offered four
scenarios that might have
happened, or may yet take
place in the Gulf crisis.
First, the United States
could have agreed to an
international conference on
the Palestinians, with
Saddam Hussein then
withdrawing from Kuwait.
This would have resulted in
a diminution of the
American ability to pressure
Israel, he said. If the United
States had agreed to an
international conference,
Israelis would have said,
"See, the Americans are
ready to sell us out."
Second, the United States
could be victorious in the
Gulf war. If this is the case,
President George Bush is
likely to feel obligated to the
Arab coalition that backed
the U.S. forces against Iraq.
This may result in an in-
creased American effort to
hold an international con-
ference, perhaps to a more
sympathetic Israel. That
Israel allows U.S. crews in

the country (to work with
Patriot missiles) "can be a
harbinger of things to come
in terms of a peace set-
tlement," Prof. Weiler said.
The Israelis may look to the
United States to get more
closely involved in peace
talks.

Or, Mr. Bush may opt to do
nothing after an American
victory over Iraq. Such a
move would be detrimental
to Israel because the hatred
between Israelis and Pales-
tinians, who are vocal in
their support for Saddam
Hussein, has been exacer-
bated during the war, he
said.
Third, Jordan may become
involved in the Gulf crisis
and King Hussein could be
toppled. Israel may subse-
quently expel Palestinians
in the West Bank and Gaza,

forcing them to relocate in
Jordan.
But this could result in
Jordan becoming a Palestin-
ian state, with the West
Bank becoming demilitariz-
ed and functioning as a
buffer between Israelis and
Palestinians, he said.
Fourth, the United States
could lose the war.
Responding to a question,
Prof. Weiler discussed
Palestine Liberation Organ-
ization chief Yassir Arafat,
who he said made "a colossal
mistake" in rallying to sup-
port Saddam Hussein.
The PLO leader's move
will result in the.loss of mill-
ions of dollars, once granted
by Saudi Arabia, and Mr.
Arafat himself no longer has
international credibility.
Mr. Arafat, the professor
said, "should have kept
quiet." El

Technion Society
Hosts Program

Rosen

Rouff

J.F.S. Forms
Support Groups

Jewish Family Service has
opened registration for sup-
. port groups geared toward
children and adolescents of
divorced parents. The eight
week sessions are focused on
issues about coping with
divorce in the family.
Fay Rosen and Karen Rouff
will conduct the ongoing sup-
port groups at the Jewish
Family Service, West Bloom-
field Branch Office.
For information, call Fay
Rosen, 559-1500; or Karen
Rouff, 737-5055.

Workshop Set
For Couples

Jewish Family Service and
Temple Emanu El are offer-
ing a workshop for couples to
be wed titled, "Kiddushin is
for Keeps."
The workshop will be con-
ducted by Lorraine Lerner.
Rabbi Lane Steinger will con-
duct the final session.

The workshop will meet on
four Wednesday evenings, 7-9
p.m., beginning Feb. 20
through Mar. 13 at Temple
Emanu El. There is a fee.
For information, call Lor-
raine Lerner or Ann Mintzer,
559-1500.

The Detroit Chapter of the
American Technion Society
will host a program titled
"Israel Update — The Gulf
War: Hi-Tech Soldiers and
Spies" 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the
United Hebrew Schools.
The speaker will be Danny
Pinkas, a former adviser to
Israeli Prime Minister David
Ben Gurion. A military
historian and journalist, Mr.
Pinkas has written two books
on Israeli intelligence gather-
ing activities. He is conver-
sant with Soviet disinforma-
tion techniques and with the
relationships between world
intelligence services.
There is no charge; refresh-
ments will be served.

Israel Radio
Clinic Feb. 5

Responding to the interest
generated in shortwave
listening by the Persian Gulf
war, the local Fans of Israel
Radio will hold a clinic 7:30
p.m. Feb. 5 at the United
Hebrew Schools building in
Southfield.
Shortwave equipment and
Israel's overseas English
language broadcasts will be
discussed. The Voice of Israel
schedule will be available.
The clinic is free and open
to the public.

Local Committee
To Help Pollard

A Detroit committee is be-
ing formed to help Jonathan
Pollard. The public is invited.
The first meeting will be held
1 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Maple-
Drake Jewish Community
Center.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

43

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