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Otherwise occupied
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Otherwise occupied

Phyllis Bernstein’s letter starts out against BDS legislation but ends up with her railing against Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank territories as “illegitimate, illegal, immoral, and anti-peace.”

Historical “Palestine,” up to and into the Ottoman Empire, included the lands on both sides of the Jordan River. As a result of strife between Arabs and Jews, the British, under their mandate, split off the major portion (about 75 percent) across the Jordan and meant it for the Arabs (which is now Transjordan) and left the smaller portion west of the Jordan for the Jews. The Jewish community, or yishuv,  started developing their land, but the Arabs kept resisting. After continued strife, the British turned over the problem to the UN, which in 1947 further partitioned the remaining portion into other Arab and Jewish sectors. The Jews rejoiced and declared their statehood, and the Arabs invaded, trying to conquer the entire land.

Fortunately the Jews prevailed in the War of Independence, but Jordan now occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem. When the fighting stopped, an armistice line was drawn marking the positions of the opposing armies. This is the “Green Line.” It was never meant as a permanent border nor has it ever legally been considered one; it was only meant for future negotiations. No Palestinian state has ever been established, then or now.

In 1967, facing an expected onslaught by massed Arab armies, Israel launched the Six-Day War and were again successful. As a result it retook the West Bank territories and East Jerusalem from the Jordanians. Over time, the Jews built settlements alongside the Arabs. This is what Bernstein calls “illegal” and “immoral” occupation. I wonder if she was as troubled when Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and did not give sovereignty to the “Palestinians” nor access to the Jews to these territories.

Max Wisotsky
Highland Park

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