U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Israel’s Psagot winery, his condemnation of boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as anti-Semitic and recognition of products made in Jewish communities east of 1967 lines as “made in Israel” were not “Trump’s gifts” to Israel as The New York Times reported on Nov. 21. Nor was Pompeo acting as an “extremist leader of the Yesha Council of Settlements instead of the foreign minister of the superpower,” as Haaretz wrote in its Nov. 20 editorial. Rather, Pompeo’s recognition of Jewish communities in “Area C” of Judea and Samaria and his condemnation of anti-Semitic product labeling and BDS warfare were the U.S. administration’s affirmations of human rights, in this case, Jewish human rights. They were also expressions of much needed moral clarity.
Regrettably, political propagandists and various epistemological authorities in Israel and abroad have for years politicized Israel’s fundamental legal and historical rights in service of political positions that have today undermined and delegitimized Israel’s right to exist as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.
This intensifying and increasingly mainstreamed “cancel culture” that has targeted Israel for moral and ideological annihilation has negated collective Jewish collective liberty and sovereignty that were uniquely affirmed twice last century, by both the League and Nations and its successor, the United Nations, via its founding charter. That formal international legal recognition of Jewish historical rights formally noted “close settlement of the land” West of the Jordan River would anchor Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
The regrettable reflexive response by some journalists at home and many more abroad to the U.S. administration’s unprecedented recognition of the legality of Israel’s presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines overlooks, ignores and frequently defies these internationally sanctioned Jewish historical, legal and collective human rights. In so doing, misinformed and misguided denunciations of Pompeo’s embrace of Israel misrepresent the historical record at best and disfigure it at worst. These errors also falsify the complex reality of the current legal and diplomatic rights of Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.
Pompeo’s visit to Psagot also reflected the agreed legal and diplomatic framework of the 1995 Oslo Accords that were internationally witnessed and guaranteed by the United States, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Norway and the European Union. The accords affirmed in no uncertain terms that Israeli and Palestinian Authority construction and building rights in areas under their respective jurisdictions would continue until the final-status negotiated disposition of the territories. That was the legal and diplomatic backdrop for Pompeo’s declaration of a U.S. policy of “reality-based diplomacy.”
It is regrettable that some uninformed and other willfully blind journalists commentators took the liberty of recasting Psagot and other Jewish communities east of the 1949 armistice lines as “illegal.” And in the tradition of Orwellian doublespeak, these same media experts have legitimized as “freedom of political protest and speech” BDS’s “cancellation warfare” and support for Nazi-era labeling of Jewish products. It’s worth remembering that in May 2019, the German parliament cited product labeling as being central to Germany’s legal determination that BDS is anti-Semitic.
Instead, Pompeo’s visit and his statements were correctives to these errors of judgment in reporting and commentary. Facts still matter. Pompeo’s visit reminds the international community of a truth that every Israeli government since 1967 has attempted to convey to the world, unsuccessfully: Psagot and Petach Tikvah share the same legitimacy. The secretary’s visit marks the first time that a United States administration has formally recognized the equality of Jewish sovereignty.
This U.S. recognition of collective Jewish human rights parallels the principle of secure Jewish collective life that every Israeli government has recognized since the Jewish people’s reestablishment of sovereignty in 1948. The international community formally recognized those same rights to Jewish sovereignty in 1920 at the international San Remo Conference. The principal powers of the League of Nations formalized San Remo’s declarative recognition in 1922 of the right of the Jewish People to “reconstitute their National Home In Palestine.”
The League of Nations further called for “close (Jewish) settlement,” establishing and unanimously approving the Mandate for Palestine, that anchored the Jewish collective human right to collective freedom and sovereignty and ultimately led to Israel’s Declaration of Independence and policy, under every Israeli government since 1967, sanctioning rights to Jewish community building on both sides of the 1949 armistice lines on state land.
America’s top diplomat apparently did his legal and diplomatic homework. Apparently, he and his advisers studied the above-mentioned international legal documents. His visit to Israel’s Psagot Winery and his accompany condemnations of BDS and anti-Semitic product labeling reminiscent of the World War II-era break the “glass ceiling” regarding formal U.S. recognition of Israel’s legal rights to sovereignty.
The U.S. and Israel alignment on Israel’s rights to sovereignty safeguards the most fundamental Jewish collective human right today. Unfortunately, the cynical discrediting of Pompeo’s alignment with the policy of all Israeli governments since 1967 reflects the lack of understanding of its critics rather than the well-reasoned positions of the current U.S. State Department.
Dan Diker is a senior research fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is director of the Project to Counter BDS and Political Warfare. His recent book “Israelophobia and the West” can be downloaded from JCPA.org or ordered from Amazon. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.