Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

The American Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists (AAJLJ) is the voluntary bar association of American Jewish lawyers. We are a national nonprofit association that represents the American Jewish legal community in regard to legal issues that affect, and are of importance to, the community, including; freedom of religion, civil rights, human rights, access to justice, social justice, and defense of the rule of law. The Association also represents and defends the interests of the State of Israel in regard to legal matters such as the BDS movement, and by providing opportunities for American lawyers to better understand the Israeli justice system and the strength of the rule of law in Israel. 

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AN OPEN LETTER TO TOM FRIEDMAN
By Harold Halpern

Tom,

I've read and reread your column in Friday's New York Times entitled, "Only Saudi Arabia and Israeli Arabs Can Save Israel as a Jewish Democracy."

This column reminds me of your Arab Spring article in 2011 informing us that the uprising by youth of the Arab countries represented a new spirit, a spirit of democracy leading you to urge Israel to reach out and make an agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) - as if that could be achieved unilaterally. I remind you that you were wrong. No Arab nation is a democracy with possible exception of Tunisia a flawed democracy, at best. Just look at turmoil in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq etc.

Now in your article you put the burden again on Israel to make an agreement with PA not asking the PA to mend its ways by taking a single step.

You don't even ask that payment be ended by PA to parents to honor their children for killing Israeli citizens.

You don't ask that the PA acknowledge the right of Israel to live in peace as a sovereign nation.

You don't acknowledge that Prime Minister Yaer Lapid in his welcoming of President Biden to Israel reiterated Israel's commitment to a two state solution in which Isreal and PA live in security.

You don't refer to the Arab nations repeated wars on Israel to drive it into the Mediterranean Sea starting in 1948 after UN authorized its creation.

You don't mention that Jordan in control of the West Bank, with all Jews excluded, joined Egypt and Syria's attacking Israel in 1967 in which it lost the West Bank. You don't mention that the Arabs after the defeat refused to recognize or negotiate with Israel.

You don't mention the surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur 1973 in which Egypt joined again by Syria and Jordan tried but failed to wipe Israel off the map.

You make but a backhanded reference to Prime Minister Ehud Barack' s offer of 97% of West Bank to PA ( including rights in Jerusalem) and minimize Arafat's rejection of the offer followed by PA's 2nd Intifada with suicide bombers killing thousands of Israeli civilians between 2000 and 2005.

You make reference to Dennis Ross, former Middle East Mediator, but make no mention that Arafat rejected the offer of a Palestinian state as Dennis Ross told me in an interview " Arafat just could not take off his terrorist suit."

Nor do you mention that the PA is corrupt, that it's leader Mahmoud Abbas, now in his mid 80's, has no interest in an agreement. He merely wants to hold on without having had an election for 16 years.

Nor do you mention that Dennis Ross has repeatedly stated, no peace agreement is possible now with the current leadership.

Nor do you mention that 40% of the West Bank is under the control of the PA as provided in the Camp David Agreements.

Nor do you mention that the PA and Israel and Jordan cooperate on security - Hamas is their common enemy.

 Nor do you mention that the sovereignty of the West Bank is at best uncertain. Palestinians have never had a state - not even one when Jordan controlled it from 1948 to 1967.

 

 

 

 Nor do you mention the PA narrative that all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea belongs to us despite Israel having occupied the land as a Jewish nation for more than 1500 years before the Muslim religion was founded and the Arabs from Arabia captured Jerusalem.

Tom, Yossi Klein Halevi, the Israeli author said it best in his book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbors. To paraphrase he wrote that both Israel and PA have the same narrative that all the land belongs to us. But he urged that since we are unable to live together let us do the " painful" and divide the land. I, he wrote, will miss Hebron, where the Jewish patriarchs are buried and elsewhere just as you will miss Jaffa and elsewhere.

So Tom, when the PA is ready to accept Israel as a lawful country in the mideast with appropriate security requirements then Israel will be ready for a Palestinian state.

One final word. Israel is a Jewish state and a democracy - with its Arabs represented on the Supreme Court, in the government and all phases of society with equal legal rights; and so too in West Bank. International law provides that existing law shall apply and it does for Palestinians - they are subject to same law today as they were before 1967.

It is my hope that the day will come, the sooner the better, that Israel and Palestinians will live side by side, Israel secure as a mideast state and Palestinians achieving its national aspirations.

-Harold

Press Release
March 3, 2022
A Message from AAJLJ President Robert Garson
The events unfolding in the Ukraine; events that defy all of the progress made in respect to human rights and territorial sovereignty since the end of World War II, have shocked us all to the core, and as President of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, I have resisted the temptation to put out a condemnation letter. In my opinion, such statements bring no action. It should be a given that we, as lawyers, respect the rule of law and will never countenance acts of unprovoked aggression. As a profession, we term litigation "dispute resolution" as it is believed that it is through dialogue and advocacy, even when fierce , that disputes are resolved.

At the AAJLJ, we believe not just in words but in deeds, and it was the ability to achieve a call to action that I was lacking until today. There are many Jewish organizations giving actual and active support to the citizens of Ukraine on the ground. Yesterday, I spoke to the leadership of the Cadena Foundation, a humanitarian non-profit organization, that specializes in disaster relief, and they are deploying with supplies to the region. United Hatzalah of Israel has over 100 volunteers on the ground with more to follow. Chabad, one of the ever present organizations in any Jewish community around the world, is helping to shelter those in need. The Jewish Agency for Israel is also seeking to deploy resources to the region. Tikva Odessa Children's Home has been sheltering children and has been orchestrating ensuring safe passage.

I urge AAJLJ members to connect with those in need through the organizations that are willing to help and to use your voices to ensure that those being oppressed have our support. As Jews it it has been seared into our collective consciousness that the world turned a blind eye while we were massacred. We cannot allow the same to happen to the people of Ukraine.