Friday, March 19, 2010

Dry Bones Proposes Building Freeze in Occupied Mexico?

The scary party about this proposal from Dry Bones is that the Obama Administration might actually adopt it, as a gesture of apology for past ill treatment of Mexico by the United States.

Actually, Mexico has a much stronger case than the Palestinians for a return of occupied territory. The United States seized Texas, New Mexico and Arizona (as well as much of California) from an independent sovereign Mexico that lawfully obtained those territories when Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The United States obtained those lands in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, imposed on Mexico after a frankly imperialist war of aggression launched by the U.S. with the patent objective of territorial expansion ("Manifest Destiny").

In contrast, there never was an independent, sovereign Palestine. No sovereign Arab state ever lawfully possessed any portion of the land of Israel. After Great Britain conquered Palestine from the Turkish Empire at the end of World War I, the League of Nations awarded Britain a mandate over Palestine (comprising what is now all of the internationally recognized State of Israel, the Kingdom of Jordan, Judea and Samaria [the so-called "West Bank"] and Gaza) for the express purpose of creating a national homeland for the Jewish people. Nothing in the League of Nations mandate suggests that any portion of the mandate territory was to become a Palestinian Arab State.

In a blatant violation of the mandate, Great Britain then carved out some 80% of the territory covered by the Palestinian mandate to create a client state, the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (later called Jordan). When Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was promptly invaded by Transjordan (led by the Arab Legion, commanded by British officers) and Egypt, as well as by Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi forces. Transjordan occupied Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, whose residents it expelled. Transjordan renamed itself Jordan after that conquest and annexation, which no nation of the world, Arab or non-Arab, recognized as legal. The ceasefire left Gaza occupied by Egypt. The 1949 ceasefire lines, and under international law they are nothing more than ceasefire lines, are the so-called 1967 borders to which the world now demands Israel return.

Israel conquered Judea and Samaria and unified Jerusalem as the result of its victory in the June 1967 Six-Day War. (It also conquered Gaza, from which it has since withdrawn.) Unlike the Mexican War, the Six-Day War was a defensive war that Israel did not seek but was compelled to wage when its existence was again threatened by Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian armies massing on its borders and by the Egyptian blockade against Israeli shipping in the Red Sea. (Those who accuse Israel of attacking first in 1967 blithely ignore that a blockade is considered an act of war, and that Syria and Egypt massed troops on Israel's borders, expressly stating that their goal was the extinction of the Jewish State.) Under the terms of the League of Nations mandate for Palestine, and because Israel conquered those lands in a defensive war against a nation--Jordan--that unlawfully occupied them, Israel's possession of those territories is completely legal, despite continuous claims that Israel's occupancy violates international law. Those territories are in no sense occupied Arab land. Unfortunately, norms of international law are dictated by politics.

So if any nation should declare a building moratorium in its occupied territories, it is the United States. But, Mr. President, please don't take me up on the idea.

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