Open Letter to Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Thursday, January 28, 2016 |  Tsvi Sadan

Dear Sir,

We in Israel think of you as descent and honorable man. This why so many were offended by your speech of January 26 in which, through historical shortsightedness, you were able to portray Israel as an immoral and oppressive country. To arrive at this negative position you had to use the one and only crutch you have – the occupation.

As the head of one of the most important institutions in the world you can ill afford misrepresenting terms and history for highly contested political ends. In resorting to this kind of demagoguery, sir, you are risking the loss of two components without which you can't fulfill your duty in good faith – credibility and trust.

I would like to draw attention to just one sentence from your unfortunate speech in which you spoke about "oppressed peoples [that] have demonstrated throughout the ages [that] it is human nature to react to occupation."

You off all people, sir, should know that already in 1920 the League of Nations, later to become the UN, recognized the right of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland. This recognition must surely assumes that any people other than Jews inhabiting what came to be known as "Palestine" are occupying a land not theirs. Non-Jews settling in Palestine during the times of Rome, Byzantine, Mamelukes, Ottoman and British took possession of a land which wasn't theirs. It goes without saying that "occupiers" is a term fitting those Arabic-speaking people who came here following the Muslim conquest.

At first the area envisioned to be the Jewish homeland included what today is Israel and Jordan. That, however, quickly changed. The League of Nations' resolution from 1922 sliced down the borders of the Jewish homeland to be from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. The carving down of the Jewish homeland continued with the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

I remind you, sir, that the 1948 war wasn't over Gaza and the West Bank, but over Israel. I would also remind you that from 1948 to 1967 (after which Israel remarkably found herself back in the 1922 League of Nations borders), the idea of an occupied Palestine wasn't even conceived. Attacks against Israel were carried out from Egypt, Jordan and Syria not to free the occupied territories, but to regain Jaffa and Haifa. The PLO, sir, came into being in 1963 not to free Gaza, but to destroy a Jewish settlement called Tel Aviv. Yes, sir, one does not have to like Netanyahu to acknowledge this undeniable historical fact.

But you insist on the contrary, that Israel, through repossession of her ancient homeland, is destroying another people. Regretfully, in doing so you are rejuvenating the Muslims' hope of replacing Israel with an unheard of new Muslim state called Palestine. From this perspective, sir, your admirable effort to end the conflict seems not much different from the peace plans of Haj Amin el Husseini, Yasser Arafat, Ahmad Yassin and their successors.

What's even more distressing is what seems to be contempt for a country that in principle has agreed to give those dwelling in the West Bank something no one else has ever given them – a state of their own on a land they have been occupying for centuries.

And finally, since you will probably fall back on Resolution 242 to justify your position, I will have you remember that though you Israel's occupation illegal, the truth is that "illegal" is your interpretation of that resolution, an interpretation that is contested by Israel. Calling occupation "illegal" is to take a political position disguised as a legal position.

The resolution itself, which never once mentions the word Palestine or Palestinians, calls for Israel's withdrawal "from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict" in exchange for a just and lasting peace between the involved parties (Egypt, Jordan and Syria).

This resolution that has been subjected to endless debates has tragically done nothing but encourage vehement anti-Israel sentiments that are now turning to unabashed anti-Semitism.

 

Though I am sure you didn't intend it to be so understood, your speech added fuel to an ever growing flame that could only result in complete chaos. It is your duty, sir, to tell the world that Israel's willingness to give land for peace is a gesture of such magnitude that should not be carried out unless a lasting peace can be guaranteed by those whose perverted dream has brought upon them the life they now have.

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