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by Wallace Edward Brand


Norway's Ambassador to Israel Svein Sevje recently explained that most Norwegians think that the Palestinians' "resistance" to the supposed Israeli "occupation" is justified and so their lack of sympathy for Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism was unlikely to change in the wake of Breivik's attack on Norwegians.

As reported in the July 26, 2011 in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA):

Svein Sevje said in an Israeli newspaper interview Tuesday that while the Norwergian bomb and gun rampages that killed 76 people and Palestinian attacks should both be considered morally unacceptable, he wanted to "outline the similarity and the difference in the two cases."

Palestinians, the ambassador told Maariv, "are doing this because of a defined goal that is related to the Israeli occupation. There are elements of revenge against Israel and hatred of Israel. To this you can add the religious element to their actions."

"In the case of the terror attack in Norway, the murderer had an ideology that says that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is forgoing Norwegian culture," Sevje said, referring to suspect Anders Breivik, a Christian nativist who is opently anti-Islam and anti-immigration.

Unlike European Union states, Norway has engaged Hamas and often been fiercely critical of Israel, to Jerusalem's dismay.

While Sevje voiced sympathy for Israeli terror victims, having experienced "the inferno" of such attacks during his posting, he saw little chance of Norway reviewing its Middle East policies.

"We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel," he said. "Those who believe this will not change their mind because of the attack in Oslo."

He added, "Can Israel and the Palestinians solve the problems without Hamas? I don't think so."

In evaluating" the occupation" as justification for the terrorism and murder of Jews, the Norwegian Ambassador must have taken as axioms that the Arabs local to the West Bank

  1. have a claim of sovereignty over that territory superior to that of the Jews; an area allegedly stolen by the Jews from the local Arabs, and

  2. that the Jews have allegedly oppressed the local Arabs through their settlements since the early days of the 20th century, and through the military control in Judea, Samaria gained in June, 1967 after the Six Day War.

If true, both of these would tend to justify the Arab "resistance" to Israeli authority. However neither of these assumptions are correct as I show below.

But even if fully correct, the assumptions would not justify the murder of innocent women and children completely unrelated to any theft from or oppression of Arabs. Not long before Breivik murdered a group of young Norwegian adults associated with the Labour Party of Norway who were gathered to listen to political lectures including some promoting the boycott, divestment and sanction of Israel, two Arabs from a nearby village near Itamar, murdered five members of the Fogel family in Itamar. These included the mother and father, two pre-adolescent children and a three month old infant girl who had her throat slit. Two other children, asleep in another room were not found. The 18 and 19 year old Arab murderers, who show no remorse, stated that if they had found the two others, they would have killed them too. A 12 year old daughter, who had been out of the house, came home and found the bodies.

Even if he sticks to his axioms, it is difficult to see how Ambassador Sevje can justify differentiating the murder of Norwegians and the killing of Jews by the "resistance".


JUDEA, SAMARIA AND EAST JERUSALEM WERE NOT STOLEN FROM THE ARABS; Israeli presence there is wholly lawful. There are three bases for Israeli lawful presence in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. These are (A.) God's grant, (B.) the 1920 grant of the WWI Allies at San Remo and the League of Nations Mandate, and (C.) the opinion of Julius Stone based on lack of any sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem prior to the Jews gaining control of this area in 1967 and Israeli conquest of this area in a defensive war.

(A.) The Old Testament tells us that God granted this area to the Jews

(B.) The WWI Allies, after capturing the Ottoman Empire, in 1920 gave political rights to 99% of the areas in the Middle East and the maghreb to Arabs and Muslims, and at the same time gave the Jews exclusive political rights to Palestine. Palestine was less than 1% of the captured territory. The award of exclusive political rights to the Jews was stated to be in recognition of the long and historic attachment of the Jews to this area.. But even though the Jews had had a majority of population in Jerusalem, it had only about 10% of the population of all Palestine. Sovereignty requires several attributes, including a defined territory, unified government control of that territory, and the capacity to enter into diplomatic relations with other countries. These attributes are listed in the Second Circuits decision in Hodes, et al v. PLO 937 F.2d 44 (1991) denying the request for sovereign immunity to the PLO. (a civil action in which the terrorist organization was sued for having murdered Klinghoffer, a man in a wheelchair on the cruise ship Achille Lauro, by pushing him overboard).

Although the territory had been defined, because the Jews were not ready, at the time, to implement a unified control over this area, the exclusive political rights were given to England in a "mandate or trust. (In his book, The Iron Cage, Rashid Khalidi, onetime spokesman for the PLO admits that as to political rights in Palestine the Arabs were ignored.) But even the exclusive political rights granted to the Jews were limited by the grantors so that when the Jews obtained sovereignty, in exercising their sovereignty were required to preserve the civil and religious rights of the non Jews. [See: The Treaty of Sevres, Article 95 in which the Ottoman Empire transferred its rights to Palestine to the mandatory power with those limitations. That Treaty was left undisturbed in the amending Treaty of Lausanne. See also, the British Mandate.]

The WWI Allies at San Remo in 1920 adopted the policies of the Declaration Lord Balfour had made in 1917 and this agreement was confirmed and implemented by the League of Nations in a "mandate" or trust arrangement. [See: Howard Grief, Legal Foundations Borders of Israel under International Law; Wallace Brand, "Israeli Sovereignty over Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria,"
Additional references are listed below.]

When the League was disbanded, Article 80 of the UN Charter saved its previous grants. The UN now calls these types of arrangements "trusts", apparently not willing to be burdened by the baggage of the League of Nations.

The US had declined to join the League of Nations and it considered the terms of the Mandate separately. President Wilson, a Progressive, disapproved of the granting of exclusive political rights to the Jews because they did not presently have a majority. This would be inconsistent with his 14 points. But the plan was to give the Jews the political rights held in trust for them by the British, i.e. sovereignty, at a future time, after the diaspora Jews had an opportunity to return to the land Holy to them and create a majority. President Wilson's view did not prevail. A joint resolution of Congress approved the mandate and it was later fully incorporated in a treaty between the US and the UK, in 1924, the Anglo American Convention. That made it treaty law and as such domestic law of the US and UK.

When in 1948, the British abandoned their trust, the exclusive political rights devolved to the representative, Israel, of their beneficial owners, the Jews.

(C.) Julius Stone, an acclaimed scholar of International Law, has ruled that the West Bank, including the eastern part of Jerusalem that the Arab Legion, supplied and officered by the British, during 1948 illegally invaded and captured Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. This aggressive war did not give Jordan sovereignty over it. It's claimed Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank was recognized only by Great Britain and Pakistan. So when the IDF recaptured it in 1967, the IDF had not taken the property from a sovereign. It was not Jordanian property, it was at at best disputed property with the Jews having the far better claim. During the years from 1948 to 1967 the local Arabs had never asserted a claim to it. The local Arabs, who call themselves Palestinians, prompted by Soviet Russia, asserted a claim in and after 1967. In any event, under international law, after its recapture in 1967 in a defensive war, Israel had the right to occupy the area until the parties agreed on new boundaries that Israel could defend. This was codified in UN Resolution 242. Jordan has since, in a treaty with Israel, relinquished any rights it had in the East Bank. [The legal opinion of the late Julius Stone on the matter can be found at:]

The Arabs in Israel and specifically in the West Bank have not been oppressed by the Jews.

 THE SECOND ASSUMPTION OF THE NORWEGIANS is that the Israelis have used their occupation to oppress the Arabs local to Palestine by settlements and otherwise. The only evidence available shows the contrary. All US presidents except Jimmy Carter and Barrack Obama have accepted the lawfulness of the Jewish settlements. At least one economist and one historian has written how beneficial these settlements have been not only for the Jews, but also for the Arabs situated in Palestine.

George Gilder recounts the story of Walter Lowdermilk, Assistant Chief of the US Soil and Conservation Service, who embarked in 1938 on a global mission to determine how the experience of older civilizations could guide the U.S. in surmounting its own agricultural crises of the Dust Bowl and Southern erosion. His initial survey of some 25,000 miles,

ended in Palestine where he confronted the question of how the "land of milk and honey" described in the Bible had become a wasteland.

In ancient times, as he knew, Palestine was largely self-sufficient, with a population of millions. Replete with forests, teeming with sheep and goats, full of farms and wineries, the landscape evoked a European plenitude. By 1939, however, when Lowdermilk arrived in the area, it was largely an environmental disaster. As he recounted in his 1944 book, Palestine, Land of Promise, "when Jewish colonists first began their work in 1882...the soils were eroded off the uplands to bedrock over fully one half the hills; streams across the coastal plain were choked with erosional debris from the hills to form pestilential marshes infested with dreaded malaria; the fair cities and elaborate works of ancient times were left in doleful ruins." In the late 19th century around the current Tel Aviv, Lowdermilk was told, "no more than 100 miserable families lived in huts." Jericho, once luxuriantly shaded by balsams, was treeless.

What amazed Lowdermilk, though — and changed his life — was not the 1,000 years of deterioration but the some 50 years of reclamation of both the highlands and the lowlands by relatively small groups of Jewish settlers. As one of many examples of valley reclamation, he tells the story of the settlement of Petah Tikva, established by Jews from Jerusalem in 1878, in defiance of warnings from physicians who saw the area outside what is now Tel Aviv as hopelessly infested with malarial mosquitoes. After initial failures and retreats, Petah Tikva became "the first settlement to conquer the deadly foe of malaria," by "planting Eucalyptus [locally known as 'Jew trees'] in the swamps to absorb the moisture," draining other swamps, importing large quantities of quinine, and developing rich agriculture and citriculture. By the time of Lowdermilk's visit, Petah Tikva had become the largest of the Jewish rural settlements," supporting 20,000 people "where there were only 400 fever-ridden fellaheen sixty years ago." (Today it is at the center of Israel's high-tech industry.)

In the gouged and gullied hills near Jerusalem, reclamation by settlers was epitomized by Kiriath Anavim. Founded in 1920 among thorn bushes, dwarfed trees, and a desolate rubble of rocks, the settlement by the time of Lowdermilk's trip boasted elaborate terraced lands, orchards, and vineyards, with plum, peach, and apricot trees, honey, and poultry, together with prosperous dairies producing milk for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

In draining swamps, leaching saline soils, redeeming dunes into orchards and poultry farms, in planting millions of trees on rocky hills, in constructing elaborate water works and terraces on the hills, in digging 548 wells and supporting canals in little more than a decade and irrigating thousands of acres of land, establishing industries, hospitals, clinics, and schools, the 500,000 Jewish settlers who arrived before the creation of Israel massively expanded the very absorptive dimensions and capacity of the country. It was these advances that made possible the fivefold 20th-century surge of the Arab population by 1940.

AS LOWDERMILK RECOUNTED in his book, in the 21 years between 1921 and 1942, the Jews increased the number of enterprises four-fold, the number of jobs more than ten-fold, and total invested capital from a few hundred thousand dollars to the equivalent of $70 million in 1942 dollars. Particularly significant in Lowdermilk's view were the purchases of large expanses of unused Arab land by Jewish settlers, many of whom had earned the necessary funds by their own hard work on the arid soils. On most occasions, the settlers bought only a small proportion of an individual Arab's holding and paid three or four times what similar plots sold for in Syria (and far more even than in Southern California). Thus the Jewish purchases provided capital for Arab farms, allowing a dramatic expansion of their production. "In cases where the land belongs to absentee owners and tenants are forced to move...I found that the Jewish purchasers had provided compensation to enable the tenants to lease other property."


THE ARABS ALSO COMPLAIN ABOUT ISRAEL'S OPPRESSIVE OCCUPATION of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem following the Six Day War. What, then, of the period after 1967, when these territories passed into the hands of Israel? According to Professor Efraim Karsh,

"Is it the case that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been the victims of the most 'varied, diverse, and comprehensive means of wholesale brutalization and persecution' ever devised by the human mind?


At the very least, such a characterization would require a rather drastic downgrading of certain other well-documented 20th-century phenomena, from the slaughter of Armenians during World War I and onward through a grisly chronicle of tens upon tens of millions murdered, driven out, crushed under the heels of despots. By stark contrast, during the three decades of Israel's control, far fewer Palestinians were killed at Jewish hands than by King Hussein of Jordan in the single month of September 1970 when, fighting off an attempt by Yasir Arafat's PLO to destroy his monarchy, he dispatched (according to the Palestinian scholar Yezid Sayigh) between 3,000 and 5,000 Palestinians, among them anywhere from 1,500 to 3,500 civilians. Similarly, the number of innocent Palestinians killed by their Kuwaiti hosts in the winter of 1991, in revenge for the PLO's support for Saddam Hussein's brutal occupation of Kuwait, far exceeds the number of Palestinian rioters and terrorists who lost their lives in the first intifada against Israel during the late 1980's.

Such crude comparisons aside, to present the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as "systematic oppression" is itself the inverse of the truth. It should be recalled, first of all, that this "occupation" did not come about as a consequence of some grand expansionist design, but rather was incidental to Israel's success against a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it. Upon the outbreak of Israeli-Egyptian hostilities on June 5, 1967, the Israeli government secretly pleaded with King Hussein of Jordan, the de-facto ruler of the West Bank, to forgo any military action; the plea was rebuffed by the Jordanian monarch, who was loathe to lose the anticipated spoils of what was to be the Arabs' "final round" with Israel.

Thus it happened that, at the end of the conflict, Israel unexpectedly found itself in control of some one million Palestinians, with no definite idea about their future status and lacking any concrete policy for their administration. In the wake of the war, the only objective adopted by then-Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan was to preserve normalcy in the territories through a mixture of economic inducements and a minimum of Israeli intervention. The idea was that the local populace would be given the freedom to administer itself as it wished, and would be able to maintain regular contact with the Arab world via the Jordan River bridges. In sharp contrast with, for example, the U.S. occupation of postwar Japan, which saw a general censorship of all Japanese media and a comprehensive revision of school curricula, Israel made no attempt to reshape Palestinian culture. It limited its oversight of the Arabic press in the territories to military and security matters, and allowed the continued use in local schools of Jordanian textbooks filled with vile anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda.

Israel's restraint in this sphere — which turned out to be desperately misguided — is only part of the story. The larger part, still untold in all its detail, is of the astounding social and economic progress made by the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli "oppression." At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife; and the level of education was very poor. Prior to the 1967 war, fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent. Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements in general well-being, placing the population of the territories ahead of most of their Arab neighbors.

In the economic sphere, most of this progress was the result of access to the far larger and more advanced Israeli economy: the number of Palestinians working in Israel rose from zero in 1967 to 66,000 in 1975 and 109,000 by 1986, accounting for 35 percent of the employed population of the West Bank and 45 percent in Gaza. Close to 2,000 industrial plants, employing almost half of the work force, were established in the territories under Israeli rule.

During the 1970's, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world — ahead of such "wonders" as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. Although GNP per capita grew somewhat more slowly, the rate was still high by international standards, with per-capita GNP expanding tenfold between 1968 and 1991 from $165 to $1,715 (compared with Jordan's $1,050, Egypt's $600, Turkey's $1,630, and Tunisia's $1,440). By 1999, Palestinian per-capita income was nearly double Syria's, more than four times Yemen's, and 10 percent higher than Jordan's (one of the better off Arab states). Only the oil-rich Gulf states and Lebanon were more affluent.

Under Israeli rule, the Palestinians also made vast progress in social welfare. Perhaps most significantly, mortality rates in the West Bank and Gaza fell by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 1990, while life expectancy rose from 48 years in 1967 to 72 in 2000 (compared with an average of 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000 (in Iraq the rate is 64, in Egypt 40, in Jordan 23, in Syria 22). And under a systematic program of inoculation, childhood diseases like polio, whooping cough, tetanus, and measles were eradicated.

No less remarkable were advances in the Palestinians' standard of living. By 1986, 92.8 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza had electricity around the clock, as compared to 20.5 percent in 1967; 85 percent had running water in dwellings, as compared to 16 percent in 1967; 83.5 percent had electric or gas ranges for cooking, as compared to 4 percent in 1967; and so on for refrigerators, televisions, and cars.

Finally, and perhaps most strikingly, during the two decades preceding the intifada of the late 1980's, the number of school children in the territories grew by 102 percent, and the number of classes by 99 percent, though the population itself had grown by only 28 percent. Even more dramatic was the progress in higher education. At the time of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, not a single university existed in these territories. By the early 1990's, there were seven such institutions, boasting some 16,500 students. Illiteracy rates dropped to 14 percent of adults over age 15, compared with 69 percent in Morocco, 61 percent in Egypt, 45 percent in Tunisia, and 44 percent in Syria.

As Professor Karsh noted, all this economic growth, the creation of educational facilities and the introduction of modern medical practices "took place against the backdrop of Israel's hands-off policy in the political and administrative spheres."

Major References

The texts of relevent documents -- The Treaty of Sevres, The Treaty of Lausanne etc. -- are available at the Avalon Project at Yale ( The Avalon project archives documents in Law, History and Diplomaccy.

Israel's lawful right to Mandated Palestine is also discussed in William Mehlman, "A Landmark Work", a review of Howard Grief's book
( Howard Grief's article on "Legal Rights And Title Of Sovereignty Of The Jewish People To The Land Of Israel And Palestine Under International Law," in the September-October 2010 issue of ( The other articles in Section I of the September-October 2010 issue on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and International Acknowledgment of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People are well worth reading. See also the Foundation Papers in the November-December 2009 Issue of See: Wallace E. Brand, "Israeli Sovereignty over Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria,"
( See: Eli E. Hertz, "No Occupied Territories," at See also the video "San Remo's Mandate: Israel's 'Magna Carta'"
( See also: Dr. Jacques P. Gauthier "UN and EU phony Claims to turn Jerusalem into Arab-Muslim capital"

See the reviews of George Gilder's: "The Israel Test" at product-reviews/0980076358/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie= UTF8&showViewpoints=1. See also: George Gilder, "The Economics of Settlement" in the June 2011 issue of the American Spectator Gilder's article has been reprinted on the Ruthfully Yours website and is archived at
Gilder sees Jews since their emancipation as the vanguard of human achievement. They may be few in numbers, but their creativity has brought prosperity to themselves as well as those around them.

Efraim Karsh: "What Occupation." was published in Commentary Magazine July 2002
( It was reprinted in in August, 2002. The many benefits listed by Karsh terminated when, under Oslo, the Arabs took over local control of the economy.

Wallace Edward Brand is a retired lawyer living in Virginia. This article was submitted August 10, 2011.

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