May 16th, 2010 by Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: A guest article from N. Scott Rabinowitz.

On May 14 the nation of Israel celebrates its sixty-second birthday. Despite insurmountable odds, Israel has not only survived, it has prospered.

The United States has played an enormous part in that prosperity—at least until now. President Obama has demanded that Israel reset the Middle East history button.

On March 10, Obama dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to demand that Israel halt renewed building in East Jerusalem. The trip resulted in what Israeli ambassador Michael Oren called the “most serious crisis since 1975″ for U.S. and Israel relations.

That assertion was dramatically confirmed on March 23 when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Washington to meet with the President. Failing to acquire concessions from the Prime Minister, Obama – in a breach of protocol, left Netanyahu to dine alone.

Despite extraordinary pressure from the White House, Netanyahu remains resolute regarding Israel’s right to build in East Jerusalem.

There are two reasons for this. First, Israel has a historical claim to the territory, a fact recognized by the international community. Second, Israel fought a series of defensive wars over the territory and the current borders are legitimate under the rules of international law.

Obama and other opponents of Israel’s sovereignty need to acquaint themselves with the history of Jerusalem and international law regarding the annexation of territory captured during a defensive war. If they did, they would discover the following:

The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine recognized Jewish national rights to the entire territory in 1922. While recognizing the need to protect the rights of the territories’ Arab inhabitants, the Mandate declared that “recognition has been to the historical connection of the Jewish People with Palestine and to reconstituting their Jewish national home in that country.” When the UN replaced the League of Nations in 1946, its charter specifically stated that the UN must uphold the terms of all existing international instruments ratified by the League of Nations. In other words, the UN—and President Obama—are obligated to recognize Israel’s legitimate claims on Jerusalem.

That obligation would be less clear, however, had the Palestinians agreed to UN Resolution 181—the Partition Plan of 1947. Conceding that the creation of a single Jewish state was impossible, the resolution was a non-binding recommendation that called for the partition of “Palestine” into two separate states, with Jerusalem existing temporarily under the administration of the UN.

For over half a century, the Palestinians rejected a two-state solution. They did so because they were confident that their Arab neighbors would intervene and destroy Israel militarily. That never occurred and Palestinian dreams of statehood never materialized.

Resolution 181 was a non-binding resolution and more importantly, it was one that the Palestinians rejected. Moreover, the Arab aggression that ignited the 1967 war irreversibly changed the territorial landscape and made a return to borders that existed nineteen year earlier impossible. In 2004 President George W. Bush acknowledged this fact in a letter to Prime Minister Arial Sharon. “In light of new realities on the ground,” Bush wrote, a return to the armistice lines of 1949 is “unrealistic.”

The Palestinians discarded UN Resolution 181 more than sixty years ago but they now wish to resurrect it to legitimatize their claim to Jerusalem.

President Obama also wishes to hit the reset button. He chooses to ignore Israel’s legal claim to Jerusalem, the fact that the Palestinians rejected UN Resolution 181, and that the U.S. has acknowledged current geo-political realties make a return to previous borders impossible.

Despite adamant claims to the contrary, East Jerusalem does not meet the criteria of an occupied territory. Following the 1948 war, Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and expelled its Jewish community. By the standards of international law, Jordan’s nineteen year occupation of Jerusalem — not Israel’s — was illegal.

Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in a war of self-defense makes it the legitimate claimant to the territory. Former Chief Judge of the International Court of Justice of the United Nations, Stephen Schwebel wrote in 1970 regarding the matter: “Where the prior holder of the territory had seized the territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense, has against the prior holder, better claim.”

Why has the President turned on America’s staunchest ally in the Middle East and embraced the revisionist history of Israel’s enemies? As long as the U.S supports Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, Israel’s enemies will remain our enemies. President Obama has chosen to appease our enemies rather than stand by our ally.


About the Author: Noel Rabinowitz is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at The King’s College in New York City. You can contact Noel via his faculty profile located here.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

March 9th, 2009 by Bethany French

President Obama has overturned the restrictions on the federal funding of stem-cell research that were set in place by the Bush administration in August 2001, when President Bush limited funding because of “fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the ends of science.”

President Obama showed his lack of concern for these “fundamental questions” when he made these statements:

Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values…

It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda — and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology…

Promoting science ‘is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient — especially when it’s inconvenient.’

Restrictions from the Bush administration on stem cell research allowed scientists to work with stem cells which were not obtained through the exploitation or destruction of human embryos.  Those restrictions are now lifted:

“The president is, in effect, allowing federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research to the extent that it’s permitted by law — that is, work with stem cells themselves, not the derivation of stem cells,” Varmus said in a conference call with reporters Sunday.

While conceding that “the full promise of stem cell research remains unknown” and “should not be overstated,” Obama nevertheless expressed hope that the order will help spur faster progress in the search for cures to afflictions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer and spinal cord injuries…

Researchers highly value embryonic stem cells because of their potential to turn into any organ or tissue cell in the body. Stem cells have this ability for a short time. A few days before the embryo would implant in the uterus, it starts to develop into specific cells that will turn into skin or eyes or other parts of a developing fetus.

When the embryo is 4 or 5 days old, scientists extract the stem cells and put them in a petri dish. With the removal of these stem cells — of which there may be about 30 — the embryo is destroyed.

Several polls from different sources indicate that the majority of Americans were in favor of these restrictions being lifted.  Scientists are hoping to use stem cell research to eventually develop treatments for people with diabetes, cancer, spinal injuries, and many more debilitating conditions, which garners support from many Americans.  However, the ethics involved in embryonic stem cell research are questionable.  Some opponents of the bill have this to say about stem cell research:

“Advancements in science and research have moved faster than the debates among politicians in Washington, D.C., and breakthroughs announced in recent years confirm the full potential of stem cell research can be realized without the destruction of living human embryos,” House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said the Bush policy imposed proper ethical limits on science.

“My basic tenet here is I don’t think we should create life to enhance life and to do research and so forth,” Shelby said Sunday. “I know that people argue there are other ways. I think we should continue our biomedical research everywhere we can, but we should have some ethics about it.”

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America [says this]: “President Obama’s order places the worst kind of politics above ethics. Politics driven by hype makes overblown promises, fuels the desperation of the suffering and financially benefits those seeking to strip morality from science.”

President Obama set his “ethical limits” at using stem cells for human cloning.  Such cloning, he said, “is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society or any society.”  One might ask, since he has made such clear statements about science not being limited by ideology, why he sets the limits at human cloning as wrong and dangerous?  Once the value of human life has been removed and disregarded for the sake of “scientific progress,” why couldn’t the same argument he is making for “science” eventually be used for what many now consider unethical boundaries?

Scientists in Nazi Germany performed many experiments on Jews in concentration camps in the name of advancing “science,” some of the results of which have been banned from being used or taught in the medical community, because of the unethical way in which they were performed.  Yet many of their “experiments” were in order to find treatments and cures for diseases, which is the same argument being used for the justification of embryonic stem cell research.  The Nazi ideology had so far dehumanized the Jewish people in the German culture that these horrific experiments were allowed and encouraged.

How far have we fallen as a culture, when the majority of Americans (according to some polls) no longer consider these helpless embryos as human, and their lives can be taken simply to bring possible benefits to those who are stronger and have voices that can be heard?

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