The Origin Of Almost Every Jewish Last Name

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jewish surname mapSlateRichard Andree’s 1881 map of the Jews of Central Europe.

Ashkenazic Jews were among the last Europeans to take family names. Some German-speaking Jews took last names as early as the 17th century, but the overwhelming majority of Jews lived in Eastern Europe and did not take last names until compelled to do so. The process began in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1787 and ended in Czarist Russia in 1844.

In attempting to build modern nation-states, the authorities insisted that Jews take last names so that they could be taxed, drafted, and educated (in that order of importance). For centuries, Jewish communal leaders were responsible for collecting taxes from the Jewish population on behalf of the government, and in some cases were responsible for filling draft quotas. Education was traditionally an internal Jewish affair.

Until this period, Jewish names generally changed with every generation. For example, if Moses son of Mendel (Moyshe ben Mendel) married Sarah daughter of Rebecca (Sara bat rivka), and they had a boy and named it Samuel (Shmuel), the child would be called Shmuel ben Moyshe. If they had a girl and named her Feygele, she would be called Feygele bas Sora.

Jews distrusted the authorities and resisted the new requirement. Although they were forced to take last names, at first they were used only for official purposes. Among themselves, they kept their traditional names. Over time, Jews accepted the new last names, which were essential as Jews sought to advance within the broader society and as the shtetles were transformed or Jews left them for big cities.

The easiest way for Jews to assume an official last name was to adapt the name they already had, making it permanent. This explains the use of “patronymics” and “matronymics.”

PATRONYMICS (son of …)

In Yiddish or German, “son” would be denoted by “son” or “sohn” or “er.” In most Slavic languages, like Polish or Russian, it would be “wich” or “witz.”

For example: The son of Mendel took the last name Mendelsohn; the son of Abraham became Abramson or Avromovitch; the son of Menashe became Manishewitz; the son of Itzhak became Itskowitz; the son of Berl took the name Berliner; the son of Kesl took the name Kessler, etc.

MATRONYMICS (daughter of …)

Reflecting the prominence of Jewish women in business, some families made last names out of women’s first names: Chaiken — son of Chaikeh; Edelman — husband of Edel; Gittelman — husband of Gitl; Glick or Gluck — may derive from Glickl, a popular woman’s name as in the famous “Glickl of Hameln,” whose memoirs, written around 1690, are an early example of Yiddish literature.

Gold/Goldman/Gulden may derived from Golda; Malkov from Malke; Perlman — husband of Perl; Rivken — may derive from Rivke; Soronsohn—son of Sarah.

PLACE NAMES

The next most common source of Jewish last names is probably places. Jews used the town or region where they lived, or where their families came from, as their last name. As a result, the Germanic origins of most East European Jews is reflected in their names.

For example, Asch is an acronym for the towns of Aisenshtadt or Altshul orAmshterdam. Other place-based Jewish names include: Auerbach/Orbach; Bacharach; Berger (generic for townsman); Berg(man), meaning from a hilly place; Bayer — from Bavaria; Bamberger; Berliner, Berlinsky — from Berlin; Bloch (foreigner); Brandeis; Breslau; Brodsky; Brody; Danziger; Deutch/Deutscher — German;Drues ( Drus) ,Dorf(man), meaning villager; Eisenberg; Epstein; Florsheim; Frankel — from the Franconia region of Germany; Frankfurter; Ginsberg; Gordon — from Grodno, Lithuania or from the Russian word gorodin, for townsman; Greenberg; Halperin—from Helbronn, Germany; Hammerstein; Heller — from Halle, Germany; Hollander — not from Holland, but from a town in Lithuania settled by the Dutch; Horowitz, Hurwich, Gurevitch — from Horovice in Bohemia; Koenigsberg; Krakauer — from Cracow, Poland; Landau; Lipsky — from Leipzig, Germany; Litwak — from Lithuania; Minsky — from Minsk, Belarus; Mintz—from Mainz, Germany; Oppenheimer; Ostreicher — from Austria; Pinsky — from Pinsk, Belarus; Posner — from Posen, Germany; Prager — from Prague; Rappoport — from Porto, Italy; Rothenberg — from the town of the red fortress in Germany; Shapiro — from Speyer, Germany; Schlesinger — from Silesia, Germany; Steinberg; Unger — from Hungary; Vilner — from Vilna, Poland/Lithuania; Wallach—from Bloch, derived from the Polish word for foreigner; Warshauer/Warshavsky — from Warsaw; Wiener — from Vienna; Weinberg.

OCCUPATIONAL NAMES

Craftsmen/Workers

Ackerman — plowman; Baker/Boker — baker; Blecher — tinsmith; Fleisher/Fleishman/Katzoff/Metger — butcher; Cooperman — coppersmith; Drucker — printer; Einstein — mason; Farber — painter/dyer; Feinstein — jeweler; Fisher — fisherman; Forman — driver/teamster; Garber/Gerber — tanner; Glazer/Glass/Sklar — glazier; Goldstein — goldsmith; Graber — engraver; Kastner — cabinetmaker; Kunstler — artist; Kramer — storekeeper; Miller — miller; Nagler — nailmaker; Plotnick — carpenter; Sandler/Shuster — shoemaker; Schmidt/Kovalsky — blacksmith; Shnitzer — carver; Silverstein — jeweler; Spielman — player (musician?); Stein/Steiner/Stone — jeweler; Wasserman — water carrier.

Merchants

Garfinkel/Garfunkel — diamond dealer; Holzman/Holtz/Waldman — timber dealer; Kaufman — merchant; Rokeach — spice merchant; Salzman — salt merchant; Seid/Seidman—silk merchant; Tabachnik — snuff seller; Tuchman — cloth merchant; Wachsman — wax dealer; Wechsler/Halphan — money changer; Wollman — wool merchant; Zucker/Zuckerman — sugar merchant.

Related to tailoring

Kravitz/Portnoy/Schneider/Snyder — tailor; Nadelman/Nudelman — also tailor, but from “needle”; Sher/Sherman — also tailor, but from “scissors” or “shears”; Presser/Pressman — clothing presser; Futterman/Kirshner/Kushner/Peltz — furrier; Weber — weaver.

Medical

Aptheker — druggist; Feldsher — surgeon; Bader/Teller — barber.

Related to liquor trade

Bronfman/Brand/Brandler/Brenner — distiller; Braverman/Meltzer — brewer; Kabakoff/Krieger/Vigoda — tavern keeper; Geffen — wine merchant; Wine/Weinglass — wine merchant; Weiner — wine maker.

Religious/Communal

Altshul/Althshuler — associated with the old synagogue in Prague; Cantor/Kazan/Singer/Spivack — cantor or song leader in shul; Feder/Federman/Schreiber — scribe; Haver — from haver (court official); Klausner — rabbi for small congregation; Klopman — calls people to morning prayers by knocking on their window shutters; Lehrer/Malamud/Malmud — teacher; Rabin — rabbi (Rabinowitz—son of rabbi); London — scholar, from the Hebrew lamden(misunderstood by immigration inspectors); Reznick — ritual slaughterer; Richter — judge; Sandek — godfather; Schechter/Schachter/Shuchter etc. — ritual slaughterer from Hebrew schochet; Shofer/Sofer/Schaeffer — scribe; Shulman/Skolnick — sexton; Spector — inspector or supervisor of schools.

PERSONAL TRAITS

Alter/Alterman — old; Dreyfus—three legged, perhaps referring to someone who walked with a cane; Erlich — honest; Frum — devout ; Gottleib — God lover, perhaps referring to someone very devout; Geller/Gelber — yellow, perhaps referring to someone with blond hair; Gross/Grossman — big; Gruber — coarse or vulgar; Feifer/Pfeifer — whistler; Fried/Friedman—happy; Hoch/Hochman/Langer/Langerman — tall; Klein/Kleinman — small; Koenig — king, perhaps someone who was chosen as a “Purim King,” in reality a poor wretch; Krauss — curly, as in curly hair; Kurtz/Kurtzman — short; Reich/Reichman — rich; Reisser — giant; Roth/Rothman — red head; Roth/Rothbard — red beard; Shein/Schoen/Schoenman — pretty, handsome; Schwartz/Shwartzman/Charney — black hair or dark complexion; Scharf/Scharfman — sharp, i.e  intelligent; Stark — strong, from the Yiddish shtark ; Springer — lively person, from the Yiddish springen for jump.

INSULTING NAMES

These were sometimes foisted on Jews who discarded them as soon as possible, but a few may remain:

Billig — cheap; Gans — goose; Indyk — goose; Grob — rough/crude; Kalb — cow.

ANIMAL NAMES

It is common among all peoples to take last names from the animal kingdom. Baer/Berman/Beerman/Berkowitz/Beronson — bear; Adler — eagle (may derive from reference to an eagle in Psalm 103:5); Einhorn — unicorn; Falk/Sokol/Sokolovksy — falcon; Fink — finch; Fuchs/Liss — fox; Gelfand/Helfand — camel (technically means elephant but was used for camel too); Hecht—pike; Hirschhorn — deer antlers; Karp — carp; Loeb — lion; Ochs— ox; Strauss — ostrich (or bouquet of flowers); Wachtel — quail.

HEBREW NAMES

Some Jews either held on to or adopted traditional Jewish names from the Bible and Talmud. The big two are Cohen (Cohn, Kohn, Kahan, Kahn, Kaplan) and Levi (Levy, Levine, Levinsky, Levitan, Levenson, Levitt, Lewin, Lewinsky, Lewinson). Others include: Aaron — Aronson, Aronoff; Asher; Benjamin; David — Davis, Davies; Ephraim — Fishl; Emanuel — Mendel; Isaac — Isaacs, Isaacson/Eisner; Jacob — Jacobs, Jacobson, Jacoby; Judah — Idelsohn, Udell,Yudelson; Mayer/Meyer; Menachem — Mann, Mendel; Reuben — Rubin; Samuel — Samuels, Zangwill; Simon — Schimmel; Solomon — Zalman.

HEBREW ACRONYMS

Names based on Hebrew acronyms include: Baron — bar aron (son of Aaron); Beck —bene kedoshim (descendant of martyrs); Getz — gabbai tsedek (righteous synagogue official); Katz — kohen tsedek (righteous priest); Metz — moreh tsedek (teacher of righteousness); Sachs, Saks — zera kodesh shemo (his name descends from martyrs); Segal — se gan levia (second-rank Levite).

OTHER HEBREW- and YIDDISH-DERIVED NAMES

Lieb means “lion” in Yiddish. It is the root of many Ashkenazic last names, including Liebowitz, Lefkowitz, Lebush, and Leon. It is the Yiddish translation of the Hebrew word for lion — aryeh. The lion was the symbol of the tribe of Judah.

Hirsch means “deer” or “stag” in Yiddish. It is the root of many Ashkenazic last names, including Hirschfeld, Hirschbein/Hershkowitz (son of Hirsch), Hertz/Herzl, Cerf, Hart, and Hartman. It is the Yiddish translation of the Hebrew word for gazelle: tsvi. The gazelle was the symbol of the tribe of Naphtali.

Taub means “dove” in Yiddish. It is the root of the Ashkenazic last name Tauber. The symbol of the dove is associated with the prophet Jonah.

Wolf is the root of the Ashkenazic last names Wolfson, Wouk, and Volkovich. The wolf was the symbol of the tribe of Benjamin.

Eckstein — Yiddish for cornerstone, derived from Psalm 118:22.

Good(man) — Yiddish translation of the Hebrew word for “good”: tuviah.

Margolin — Hebrew for “pearl.”

INVENTED ‘FANCY SHMANCY’ NAMES

When Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire were required to assume last names, some chose the nicest ones they could think of and may have been charged a registration fee by the authorities. According to the YIVO Encyclopedia, “The resulting names often are associated with nature and beauty. It is very plausible that the choices were influenced by the general romantic tendencies of German culture at that time.” These names include: Applebaum — apple tree; Birnbaum — pear tree; Buchsbaum — box tree; Kestenbaum — chestnut tree; Kirshenbaum — cherry tree; Mandelbaum — almond tree; Nussbaum — nut tree; Tannenbaum — fir tree; Teitelbaum — palm tree.

Other names, chosen or purchased, were combinations with these roots:Blumen (flower), Fein (fine), Gold, Green, Lowen (lion), Rosen (rose), Schoen/Schein (pretty) — combined with berg (hill or mountain), thal (valley), bloom (flower), zweig (wreath), blatt (leaf), vald or wald (woods), feld (field).

Miscellaneous other names included Diamond; Glick/Gluck — luck; Hoffman — hopeful; Fried/Friedman — happiness; Lieber/Lieberman — lover.

Jewish family names from non-Jewish languages included: Sender/Saunders — from Alexander; Kagan — descended from the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people from Central Asia; Kelman/Kalman — from the Greek name Kalonymous, the Greek translation of the Hebrew shem tov (good name), popular among Jews in medieval France and Italy; Marcus/Marx — from Latin, referring to the pagan god Mars.

Finally, there were Jewish names changed or shortened by immigration inspectors or by immigrants themselves (or their descendants) to sound more American, which is why “Sean Ferguson” was a Jew.

Let us close with a ditty:

And this is good old Boston;
The home of the bean and the cod.
Where the Lowells speak only to the Cabots;
And the Cabots speak Yiddish, by God!

A version of this post originally appeared on Jewish Currents.

Bennett Muraskin is a contributing writer to Jewish Currents magazine and author of The Association of Jewish Libraries Guide to Yiddish Short Stories and Let Justice Well Up Like Water: Progressive Jews from Hillel to Helen Suzman, among other books.

NOW WATCH: This Midwestern Saying About Cheese Makes No Sense To The Rest Of America

 

Bedpan Conversion to Judaism

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Renee is a very caring lady who spends a lot of her spare time visiting and helping sick members of her Shul. Her car is also well known in the community because it’s decorated all over with lots of Hebrew decals and bumper stickers showing the Jewish charities she helps.
One day, as she is driving to one of the care homes she regularly visits, her car runs out of petrol and splutters to a stop. “Oy veh,” she says to herself, “and just when I’m late.”
Fortunately, she notices a petrol station only a few hundred yards away, so she walks to the station to get help. “Hi,” Renee says to the man behind the till, “I’ve run out of petrol and I’m hoping you can lend me your petrol can. I’ll pay you for the petrol I use and I’ll return your can as quickly as possible.”
The attendant replies, “I’m sorry, lady, but I’ve lent out my one and only can, not more than 5 minutes ago. I’m expecting it back in about half an hour, so if you want, you can wait here for it.”
But as she’s behind schedule, Renee goes back to her car to find something that she could use to fill with petrol. Then, what mazel, she notices the bedpan she always keeps handy in case of patient need. So she takes the bedpan to the petrol station, fills it and carries it back to her car.
Two Christian men are passing by and watch her pour in the petrol. One turns to the other and says, “If that car starts, I’m converting to Judaism!”

Israeli Doctors in Haiti

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(compiled by Jacob Richman)

The IDF sent an aid delegation of over 220 search and rescue and medical personnel to assist in the rescue efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Search and rescue teams are working around the clock to extract victims trapped in the rubble and the IDF has constructed a field hospital capable of treating up to 500 people a day near the soccer field in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Footage from the IDF Field Hospital that has been set up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake. This video includes footage of the first baby born at the field hospital on January 17, 2010.http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-jHcwlKqYLo
CNN Video: Haiti Patients are desperate for better medical care.Article: Haaretz: Israel’s Haiti field hospital:
a microcosm of a country’s turmoil
Article: Muqata Blog:
IDF Soldier’s eyewitness account in Haiti 
CBS News Video: IDF Field Hospital in Haiti
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UX-UmrFAWNw2nd video of the IDF Field Hospital that has been set up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake.
This video was uploaded on January 18, 2010.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FCx0SKPG9V0
IDF Search and Rescue teams in Port-au-Prince Haiti pulled a 52 year-old Hatian man from the rubble of a collapsed building. The team worked for 8 hours to extract the man, who was in good condition despite wounds on his limbs and dehydration. He had been trapped in the rubble for 90 hours, and had managed to communicate his location to rescue forces via sms. Article: Ynet: Israelis Rescue Earthquake Survivor in HaitiArticle: NBC New York: Brother of Queens Doctor Rescued in Haiti http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oSsCBuBVzQwhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mzOAwIMcErg
Hebrew interview with the rescue team that worked for 7-8 hours to pull a 52 year-old Hatian man from the rubble of a collapsed building.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UP1SOlw4mjAA Fox News clip of Israeli doctors in Haiti http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q3yTptugzPI
 

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A Get Or Not A Get is Gotta be the question.An orthodox woman’s 3-year divorce fight

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Her approach is correct.  Broadcast these Middle Age Jewish Chauvinistic Customs

An orthodox woman’s 3-year divorce fight

Four-and-a-half years ago, Gital Dodelson, now 25, of Lakewood, NJ, married Avrohom Meir Weiss, part of a respected rabbinic family on Staten Island. Ten months after the wedding, Dodelson left the marital home with their newborn son, claiming her husband was controlling and manipulative. Despite getting civilly divorced in August 2012, they remain married under Jewish law because Weiss refuses to grant the faith’s decree of divorce, known as a “get.” As a result, Dodelson’s life in the Orthodox community is in limbo and she is unable to date, let alone get married again. Now, after more than three years of pleading with Weiss to sign the document that will set her free, Dodelson has gone public with her story in The Post:

I’m helping my friend get ready for a date. It’s Saturday night after Shabbat, and I can see how excited she is as she puts on her makeup and curls her hair. She never met the guy before, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities. Who knows — in just a few months from now, could this be the man she’s engaged to?

As I zip up her dress, I feign a smile — but inside I feel despair. She has what I long for — a life where she’s free to date men. But men can’t even look at me now. That’s because I’m an agunah — an Orthodox Jewish woman whose husband won’t give her a “get.” Under the eyes of God, I’m still married, chained to someone who refuses to release me back into society.

When I first met Avrohom in October 2008, I thought he was great husband material. That’s what my parents and friends told me. After all, in my society you’re expected to listen to them on these matters.

They told me that at 23, he was learned, a great Talmudic scholar from an esteemed family, whose great-grandfather, Moshe Feinstein, was a legendary rabbi.

It’s traditional to arrange the date through a matchmaker. Days later, there was a knock at my front door. My dad opened it and led a handsome, dark-haired man with bright blue eyes into the room. He spoke softly and politely, but seemed shy. I happily got in his car.

Our first date was at a big hotel near the Garden State Parkway, and we sat in the lobby drinking Diet Cokes. In Jewish culture, this is the quintessential way that you get to know a potential partner. Dates always happen in a public place and are very formal. We spoke about our families, and although he seemed interested in what I had to say, it was a little off-putting because he kept fiddling with his phone.

I always think it’s impolite not to accept a second date, so I agreed to see Avrohom again. This time, he only really became animated when he was talking about his expensive watch. I told the matchmaker I wanted to stop seeing him, that we weren’t a fit.

Days later, my parents got an urgent phone call from his parents — begging me to reconsider, saying that the personality he showed me on our dates wasn’t the real him, that he was nervous around girls. My parents asked me to think about it because his parents were so insistent I had the wrong impression of him.

In Orthodox dating, you rely a lot on what other people tell you — what their impression is. So I gave him another chance.

After two months of dating — about twice a week, every week, first sharing sodas in hotel lobbies, then graduating to dinner and visits to the Museum of Natural History — we both knew we were expected to take the next step of getting engaged.

Gital Dodelson is now studying law while awaiting a religious divorce from her ex.

It was a chilly December night, and he took me to a glitzy hotel in Midtown. We were walking around on the mezzanine level, watching all the tourists whizzing around below. Avrohom suddenly dropped to one knee, pulled out a black velvet box with a sparkling, round diamond ring inside, and asked me to marry him.

“Gital,” he said, softly. “We can have a wonderful future together.” He talked about the kind of marriage he wanted, where we’d be equal partners and make decisions together. Suddenly my reservations about him melted away. All I could think about was the excitement of the wedding.

The engagement period in our community, like our dating, is very short. There was so much to do before our February wedding that I didn’t worry too much about our compatibility.

As per our tradition, each side pays for certain things — our side the food, his side the flowers. I didn’t fuss much over these things, but I couldn’t believe how many times Avrohom sent back the invitation because it wasn’t the perfect font. Looking back, I should have seen the signs.

Before I knew it, the big day arrived. Four hundred guests celebrated with us at a gorgeous catering hall in Lakewood. I felt so beautiful in my ivory lace dress and veil, with a white rose bouquet. The band, which Avrohom chose himself, had all the guests, women on their side and men on the other, dancing for hours.

But only three days into the marriage, I knew I made a terrible mistake. It was our first Shabbat together as man and wife — and it was spent in silence. We were about to light the Sabbath candles, and we discussed how each of our families likes to light it. It’s a female tradition, and you typically do what your mother did. When my way contradicted his way, he criticized me and turned angry. Avrohom said: “You have no choice. It’s not my way,” and gave me the cold shoulder for the next 24 hours. From Friday night to Saturday night, we didn’t speak a word.

When I couldn’t stand the hostility anymore, I said, “You can’t just ignore me — this isn’t how a relationship works. We have to be able to talk about these things.” The only response he could muster was: “When I don’t get my way, I don’t know how to function.”

I got pregnant right away. As a Torah-observant man, Avrohom would study in the yeshiva all day while I was in school or working at my mom’s technology company.

I was the sole breadwinner, but he had control over our finances. Several times he would give handouts to his brother, who was unemployed. “Why are you giving away the money that I earned?” I asked Avrohom one day. “You don’t get to make the decisions,” he replied, adding that I’m stupid. “I’m the man of the house.” He wouldn’t allow me to employ an occasional housekeeper so, even though I was pregnant and exhausted, I had to do all the cooking and cleaning as well as work up to 40 hours a week.

His controlling and belittling behavior only got worse. I guess I was in denial about how bad things really were. I couldn’t confide in anybody, not even my mom.

We were sitting down to dinner one night, and I casually mentioned that I’d picked an OB-GYN. “Why didn’t you consult me first?” he growled. “It’s up to me to choose your doctor.” When I asked if he had any better suggestions, he said that I should produce a short list of 10, and that he got final say. He always had to be in the position of control — it’s stifling.

At one point, I suggested we look at places in Lakewood, where there would be more room for the baby and we’d be closer to my family who could help out. He said, “People always fuss too much over new mothers, not the father. You’re too spoiled!” My heart sank. I thought: “How can I bring a child into this world with a virtual stranger? Someone I’m so disconnected from?”

Around my seventh month, after getting the silent treatment over Shabbat again, I told Avrohom that we needed to see a marriage counselor. He flatly dismissed the idea, saying: “You can pack your bags and leave. We’re not going to therapy under any circumstances, and if anyone finds out we have a bad marriage, I’ll divorce you.”

Our son, Aryeh, was born on Nov. 19, 2009 at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. He was two weeks early, and I wonder to this day if it was because of the mental strain I was under during the pregnancy.

The second the nurse handed him to me, the world was a perfect place. I had this beautiful, perfect person. But I was soon reminded that my husband was quite the opposite. My parents had been in the waiting room for hours during the labor.

When they asked to come in to see me afterward, Avrohom steadfastly refused to let them into the room.

I later found out that he actually manhandled my mom, shoving her back as she tried to walk out of the room. That’s a major taboo against women, and she was very shaken up. My father told Avrohom, “Don’t touch my wife,” and he backed off.

Finally, Avrohom gave in, and they came in to see me.

A few weeks after Aryeh arrived, Avrohom agreed to move together to a rented apartment in Lakewood. It was on one condition: that we took the baby and slept over with his family in Staten Island at least once a week.

Two weeks later, on a frigid December night, Avrohom insisted we drive to see his parents. I didn’t want to needlessly drag a newborn out in the freezing cold, so I said no. He was yelling at me, and the baby started crying because Avrohom’s shouting woke him up. He was only 1 month old.

Avrohom had already stormed out of the house twice after two other rows, but this time I reached my breaking point. I said, ‘This isn’t working, I’m moving back to my parents.’ I packed up Aryeh right then and there, and drove off. I told him I wasn’t coming back, and I meant it.

I said: “You’re not a bad man. We’re just not right for each other.” He snapped back: “You would make any man unhappy.”

When my mom met me at the front door, I blurted out what had happened and how terribly unhappy I’d been. Thank God she was sympathetic. She then told me she and my dad had been increasingly worried about his controlling behavior.

Avrohom filed for full custody of Aryeh a few months later, in March 2010, at New Jersey civil court. He broke with tradition — instead of going straight to a beit din (a Jewish court) to resolve our issues, he filed in civil court, which shocked people because it takes a certain kind of person to thumb his nose at Jewish tradition like that.

But it was all a front. He was actually going to use Jewish tradition against me as a weapon.

While he agreed to a divorce in the civil courts (which blocked his bid for full custody of Aryeh but gave him custody every other weekend, plus every Tuesday and Thursday for a total 12 hours a week), he still holds the trump card. He will not sign the “get,” the all-important bill of divorce which is recognized by halacha (Jewish law).

Civil law governs the legal aspects of life, but under the eyes of God — and everyone who’s important to me — I’m still married to Avrohom. On paper, I am a free woman. But this means nothing in halacha, and I’m still imprisoned by my husband to this day.

On my last mission to ask for a get, a month ago, Avrohom said, “I can’t give you a get — how else would I control you?” I think that’s the key to it all. He insists the marriage isn’t over until he says it’s over.

We’ve tried everything — the informal route, negotiations. I’ve asked him myself, my parents have asked his, our camp tries to reason with his camp, but, counting down from the time when he sued for custody in March 2010 and I first asked him for a get, we’ve been shut down for 3¹/₂ years. One proposal his side put forward in January was for me to agree to override the court decision on custody of Aryeh and hand over a payment of $350,000. There’s no way I can afford that.

It’s been an uphill battle trying to appeal to his family — this almost untouchable, powerful rabbinic family. Many rabbis have called on his grandfather, Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, who heads the Yeshiva of Staten Island, to influence his grandson to give a get, but he staunchly supports Avrohom. Prominent rabbis have even called for the dismissal of his father, Yosaif Asher Weiss, as editor for the major Jewish publisher . Ironically, [Avrohom’s] great-grandfather Moshe Feinstein was a major champion of agunot, and convinced many husbands to give their wives a get in his day. Now Avrohom is one of those insubordinate husbands.

I would love to find a stepfather for Aryeh, and someone who I could have more children with, but right now I can’t even have coffee with a guy. It wouldn’t be fair to him or myself.

If I move on romantically without a get, I would have to leave this community — my friends and family and entire support system — because it’s committing adultery. My children and I would be ostracized and not welcomed in the community.

Some people might argue that I should ignore the traditions of the Torah. But I’m deeply religious and won’t go against the God I believe in. Why should I?

One good thing is that I have gathered a lot of support from people in the community who are horrified by the whole issue of the agunot [women whose husbands won’t grant gets]. They staged two rallies outside Avrohom’s home in Staten Island, with about 200 supporters each, in June 2012 and June 2013. We asked people to make it as non-confrontational as possible and keep it respectful. He never even came out of his house. Even though withholding a get is defined by Jewish law as a form of domestic abuse, Avrohom refuses to give an inch.

[Calls and e-mails from the New York Post to Avrohom Meir Weiss and his family members have gone unanswered.]

I am currently in my last year of a law degree at Rutgers University, but I was planning on being a lawyer even before I got married. I find the idea of the law helping agunot interesting, and I would be willing to do whatever I could to help anyone is such a situation.

The lesson I’ve learned from this whole thing is not to turn people away when they need help, regardless of what kind of situation they’re in. I hope I can use my legal experience to help people, regardless of whether they’re agunot.

It’s an insulated community. It takes a strong push to step out beyond that. This step I’m taking is difficult but necessary. I’ve decided to go public with my story after exhausting every other possible means. the Orthodox are fiercely private, but I am willing to air my dirty laundry if it means I can finally get on with my life.

Avrohom, if you’re reading this, this is my last bid: Let’s both move on with our lives. Let us focus on Aryeh and our future, instead of being stuck in the past.

More about the get:

Few people outside the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community have heard of the get — the crucial document in Jewish law which a husband must sign before a divorce is finalized in the eyes of God.

Without it, the wife, known as an agunah, is not allowed to marry again. If she has children, they are considered bastards. The man, however, can move on without a get, openly dating other women.

The contentious issue of the get came to public notice last month after two rabbis in Brooklyn were accused of charging vulnerable agunot up to $60,000 each to kidnap and torture husbands who refused to sign the paperwork.

In some cases, electric cattle prods allegedly were used on the recalcitrant men’s genitals.

The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), a New York-based nonprofit, condemns all forms of violence and extortion, and acts as an intermediary between the wives and husbands in an effort to secure a get.

“The refusal to issue a get is never justified and is defined in Jewish law as domestic abuse,” says Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of ORA.

Some agunot have been waiting as long as 10 years after their marriages ended in the civil courts. Others have been unable to unchain themselves from husbands who are criminals or even pedophiles.

“It’s the last form of control the husband has over his wife,” adds Stern. “The mentality is, ‘If I can’t have her, no one can.’ It’s fundamentally about control and spite.”

NYC is highly affected by the agunah crisis, with 30 of the 50 cases currently being handled by ORA involving at least one spouse living in the region.

ORA has resolved 205 cases since 2002. (The latest estimates, from a 2011 study, report 462 agunot from the previous five-year period in the US and Canada.) Twenty-three percent of ORA’s cases concern non-Orthodox women.

Stern says that in Modern Orthodox circles, the get is often used as leverage, so his organization tries to broker one before any civil decision is made.

As for the Dodelson case, he says: “It’s shocking that Weiss hasn’t made any public statements about it. What his side says they’re looking for is greater custody/visitation and a large sum of money as compensation for legal fees.

“He was the plaintiff in all civil court matters; now he’s using the get as extortionary leverage.”

For more information, see SetGitalFree.com or getora.org.

Survey: Egypt Overtaking Saudis As Most Conservative

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Survey: Egypt Overtaking Saudis As Most Conservative

Survey of 7 Arab countries: Saudis think women should cover all but eyes in public, yet half for women choosing clothes.
Arab women (file)

Arab women (file)
Flash 90

A recent survey of 7 Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries has revealed conflicting viewpoints in Saudi Arabia, a country that doesn’t let women drive and is often considered one of the most repressive nations in terms of women’s rights.

While nearly 2 out of 3 in Saudi Arabia think women should cover all but their eyes in public, nearly 50% say women should choose how they dress. The latter figure is close to the response in more liberal Lebanon with its large Christian population, and is far more permissive than Iraq, Pakistan or Egypt.

Mansoor Moaddel, lead author of the survey published by the Middle Eastern Values Study at the University of Michigan, claims to CNN that the results show Saudia Arabia has “a considerable liberal leaning.”

“Saudi has had a religious government for a long time,” stated Moaddel. “People tend to develop an opposition attitude.”

While Saudi Arabia recently allowed its first female lawyer, the nation’s religious police enforcing Sharia law have a far from stellar record on women’s rights. In March 2002, religious police stopped schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in Mecca because they were not wearing headscarves and black robes, nor were they accompanied by a man. As a result, 15 girls died and 50 were injured.

Moaddel argues that Egypt is the most conservative of the Muslim nations, as only 14% there said women should choose their dress, the lowestresults among the 7 nations.

Furthermore, 19 in 20 Egyptians said a women should be required to obey her husband, the highest result in that question.

The findings back research last November which placed Egypt the lowest in the Arab world in terms of women’s rights, with Saudi Arabia coming in third worst. A UN report last April found that 99.3% of Egyptian women and girls had been sexually harassed.

However, Moaddel assesses the Egyptian position as being sexist without relation to Islam. “The problem with Egypt is not just religion, it is an intellectual trend,” said the researcher, adding “Egyptians have become more sexist in the past decade. They have become less religious, less supportive of Sharia (Islamic law), but on the issue of gender, more conservative.”

The survey found that the generally agreed mode of dress for women in public among the 7 Muslim nations consisted of a tight white headscarf covering everything but the face.

Interviews with 2,005 people in Saudi Arabia and at least 3,000 in each of the 6 other countries made up the data for the survey.

Israel’s Rights Spelled Clearly (Reblogged)

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With the applications of Taqiyya and Goebbels-like propaganda , the world has accepted certain fallacies i.e. the ‘Palestinians’ or ‘Occupied territory’ or ‘illegal settlements’.

And now the facts…

This review, with legal and historical background that is essential to understanding Jewish rights in the land, will be succinct, with links to informational sites for those who wish to know more.

It is important to save and share this material, as it provides data critical for properly defending Israel.  Emphasis has been added to certain key phrases.

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With the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Second Jewish Commonwealth came to an end.  From then until modern times, what had been Judah, and was renamed Palestina by the Romans, was only an appendage to one empire or another, never an independent country.

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San Remo

Jewish legal rights in the land in modern times began with the San Remo Conference and resultant San Remo resolution, which has been called the Jewish Magna Carta.

For centuries, Palestine had been part of the (Turkish, Muslim) Ottoman Empire. With the end of WWI, the land of that Empire was taken by the Allies. Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, with the US as observer, met in San Remo, Italy, to decide how it would be divided: Palestine was put under British Mandatory rule.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/san_remo.html

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Balfour Declaration

At San Remo it was decided to incorporate the Balfour Declaration into Britain’s mandate.  The Declaration, in the form of a letter, was an endorsement by the British government of the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine.  Written in 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour, and sent to Lord Rothschild, it stated:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, , and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

Full text of letter: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/balfour.html

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By “Right”

In June 1922, Winston Churchill, who was then British Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote in a policy paper that:

“…in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance.”

http://www.mideastweb.org/1922wpcor.htm

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League of Nations Formalizes Mandate

In July 1922, the League of Nations, predecessor to the UN, formally adopted the British Mandate for Palestine — a legally binding document that was approved by all 51 members of the League of Nations.

It agreed that:

“the Mandatory [Britain] should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917 [Balfour Declaration], by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…”

And it gave recognition to:

the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

The term “reconstituting” gave acknowledgement to the fact that there had been a Jewish nation in Palestine at an earlier time.

Full text of resolution: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp

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“Mandate” Explained

The mandatory system of the League of Nations was based on the principle of Allied administration of Mandate territories until such time as they were able to stand alone.  That is, it was understood at the beginning that the British would ultimately withdraw, leaving an established Jewish homeland.

http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/C61B138F4DBB08A0052565D00058EE1B

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Area of Mandate Palestine

Credit: Hebroots

The original area of Palestine, for which the British Mandate was assigned, included Transjordan (what is today Jordan, on the eastern side of the Jordan River).

In September 1922, very soon after the League of Nations had adopted the Mandate resolution, Britain assigned TransJordan to Hashemite Arabs from Saudi Arabia.  The Jewish part of the Mandate was thus reduced by over 70%.

Jews then had the right to settle anywhere in a 10,000 sq.mi. area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Credit: Fanack

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Mandate Transfer to UN

With the formal demise of the League of Nations in 1946, the United Nations was established to succeed it.  The UN assumed obligations of the League: Territories under Mandate were to have a “trusteeship system” applied — this was a continuation of the Mandate system of the League.

Article 80 of the UN declared that “nothing in the [UN] Charter shall be construed…to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or peoples or the terms of existing international instruments.”  This preserved the Jewish right to settle in Palestine.

http://www.fsmlaw.org/miscdocs/uncharter.htm

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Violence in Palestine

From the time of the establishment of the Mandate for Palestine, Arab challenges to it were considerable,  and were often expressed violently.  This was in spite of the fact at that the same that the Mandate for Palestine was established for the Jewish homeland, Mandates for Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were established, all for Arab populations.  Arabs were, and still are, offended by the presence of a Jewish state.

Perhaps most grievous of all was the Hebron massacre of 1929: for three days Arabs went on a murderous rampage in the city, killing 67 Jews and destroying property. In the aftermath, the second holiest city of the Jews was left bereft of Jews for the first time in hundreds of years.  (Ultimately the British prevented Jews from living in the city because they said they couldn’t protect them.)

More: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebron29.html

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Partition of Palestine

In 1947, the British, who no longer wished to contend with the situation, declared intention to pull out by mid-1948, and turned the Mandate back to the United Nations. A UN Commission considered the matter and recommended a partition of Palestine into one state for the Jews and one for the Arabs, with Jerusalem to be internationalized at first.

Credit: Wikipedia

This recommendation was placed before the General Assembly as Resolution 181, which was adopted on November 29, 1947 by a vote of 33 to 12, with 10 abstentions. The Arab nations voted as a bloc against.

It is imperative to note that General Assembly Resolutions carry no weight in international law.  This resolution was only a recommendation — it was not binding and it did not supersede the Mandate for Palestine in international law.

The text of the resolution:http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/res181.htm

Legally, this plan would have had binding force only as an agreement between the two parties, i.e., the Jews of Palestine and the Arabs of Palestine.

However, while the Jewish population of Palestinian accepted the proposal, the Arab population did not:they rejected the entire resolution.  Thus the partition plan was aborted.

See more here: http://www.mythsandfacts.org/conflict/10/resolution-181.pdf

There is no way for Arabs today to re-instate this resolution or to claim that Jews have a right to only what was defined as a Jewish state by this aborted resolution.

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Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel

On May 14, 1948 (Hebrew date: 5th of Iyar 5708), the Jewish People’s Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum, and approved a proclamation, declaring the establishment of the State of Israel.

It asserted the natural right of the Jewish people to be like all other peoples, exercising self-determination in its sovereign state and proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish state named “the State of Israel.”

See text: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Dec_of_Indep.html

It is important to note that Israel’s legal legitimacy did not derive from the aborted partition plan — even though the state was founded on that portion of Palestine that Resolution 181 had allocated for a Jewish state.

It was established according to international norms: based on a declaration of independence by its people and on the establishment of an orderly government within territory under its stable control.

The portion of Palestine on which Israel was not established became unclaimed Mandate land.  Nothing in international law had superseded the status of this land as Mandate land.

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War of Independence

Within a day of the establishment of the State of Israel, it was attacked by the states of the Arab League, with clear, openly stated, intention of destroying the new state.

Credit: buildersofzion

When the war ended in 1949, Israel controlled more territory than it had when independence was declared.  Egypt controlled Gaza, and Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).  Western Jerusalem was in Israel’s hands, and eastern Jerusalem in Jordan’s hands.

Armistice agreements were signed between Israel and the Arab states with which it had been at war.  Armistice lines — temporary ceasefire lines — were defined by these agreements.  They are often referred to as the Green Line.

These armistice demarcation lines did not define a permanent border for Israel. The agreement between Israel and Jordan includes this phrase:

“The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined…in this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines…”

This is exceedingly important because the PLO/PA claims that this line is Israel’s “real” border and the line to which it must withdraw.  This is simply not the case.

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Six Day War

From June 5 to June 10, 1967, Israel fought a defensive war against Arab forces from Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

Details here: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/67_War.html

When it was over, Israel had control of all of Jerusalem, which was united under Israeli sovereignty; the Golan Heights, to which Israeli civil law was applied; the Sinai, which was surrendered as part of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt; Gaza, which was surrendered in the 2005 disengagement; and Judea and Samaria.

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242

In November 1967, the Security Council adopted Resolution 242, which addressed the situation.

This resolution did not require Israel to withdraw to the Green Line.  Instead it acknowledged the right of every state in the area “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

Implicit here was the understanding that the Green Line did not represent a secure boundary.  Israel suffered from a lack of strategic depth within the Green Line — at its narrowest only nine miles wide — which invited attack and made defense in war time difficult. (This is why Israeli statesman Abba Eban referred to the Green Line as the “Auschwitz borders.”)

Thus this resolution called for Israel to withdraw from “territories occupied in the recent conflict.”  “Territories,” not “the territories” or “all territories,” meaning, withdrawal from*some but not all of the area of Judea and Samaria.  There is a legal history of long debate over this wording, because of its significance.  Not full withdrawal because that would not leave Israel with a secure boundary.

The Three Territories gained from the defensive war of June 1967 were –

1) The Territory referred to as the Golan Height from Syria. — A Section of the Golan Heights was returned to Syria.
2) The Territory referred to as Judea and Samaria or the West Bank from Jordan
3) The Territory referred to as the Sinai from Egypt. — ALL was returned to Egypt.

So:
THERE IS NO REASON TO RETURN ANY of Judea and Samaria.

Since the ‘Territories’ > (plural) belonging to Syria AND Egypt were returned, THAT fulfills legal obligations.)

Once again, then, we see that the claim of the PLO/PA that Israel “must” withdraw to the Green Line is not supported by the facts.

Lastly, the resolution called for “a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution.”  That is, it called for negotiations to determine the final border of Israel.

There was no requirement that Israel withdraw prior to negotiations. And those negotiations have never been held.  At the time of this resolution, it was assumed that negotiations would be with Jordan.  Today the situation has changed.

For a more detailed explanation and text of the resolution:
http://www.mythsandfacts.org/conflict/10/resolution-242.pdf

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“Occupation”

There is nothing in Resolution 242 that forbids construction of settlements in Judea and Samaria by Israel.  As this issue is a critical one now, we need to look at this a bit closer:

Israel is not an “occupier” in Judea and Samaria.

The word “occupation” is bandied about regularly.  The PA/PLO have adopted the idea of Israel as “occupier” as a mantra and much of the world has accepted it.  But the facts tell us something else.

[] Judea and Samaria were (and still are) unclaimed Mandate land, to which Israel has the strongest claim.

[] Legally, occupation only occurs when one nation moves into the land of another. But there was no nation legally sovereign in Judea and Samaria before 1967 — Jordan’s presence there was not legal.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Belligerent+occupation

[] There are strong legal precedents for the claim that a war fought defensively permits retention of the land secured in that war.

Wrote Steven Schwiebel, former judge of the International Court of Justice:

“…the Israeli conquest of Arab and Arab-held territory was defensive rather than aggressive conquest.

“…it follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines.. are lawful…whether those modifications are, in Secretary Rogers’s words, ‘insubstantial alterations required for mutual security’ or more substantial alterations – such as recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem.”  (Emphasis added)

http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id248.html

[] With all of the above, it should not be forgotten that areas over the Green Line, in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, represent the very heart of Jewish heritage:  From the Temple Mount; to Hevron and the Cave of Machpelah, where the matriarch and patriarchs are buried; to Shilo, where the Tabernacle was brought.  How can Jews be “occupiers” in their own ancient land?

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International Law

People have the impression that “international law” is a firmly defined body of law.  In point of fact, while some international law is established in formal documents, others aspects are very fluid.  Just as is the case with “occupation,” there is a tendency to politicize this term, so that Israel is forever accused of “violating international law.”  Be most cautious when hearing this.

There are, as well, instances in which “international law” is interpreted to mean one thing for Israel and another for other countries.

One fascinating example has to do with the Temple Mount; to Hevron and the Cave of Machpelah which says “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”  You may have heard accusations that Israel is in defiance of this Article because of the “settlers.”

There are two obvious retorts to this: First, that Israel is not an occupier, and second, that Israel is not deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population — the people go of their own volition.

Eugene Kontorovich, however, is currently doing research for a paper and has discovered something else:  There are many instances of movement of civilian population into occupied territory.  However, while international lawyers claim that Israel must actively oppose civilian migration, refuse to provide services to settlers, etc., in these other instances the reaction is much more tempered.  That is, the presumed requirements of “international law” are applied selectively to Israel.

http://www.volokh.com/2012/11/27/other-countries-settlements/

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RELATED ISSUES
Oslo Accords

The Oslo Accords, promoted originally by Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and others, was founded on the assumption, which proved to be seriously and dangerously erroneous, that peace might be achieved between Israel and the PLO, considered the official representative of the Palestinian Arab people.  On September 13, 1993, the Declaration of Principles was signed between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO.

The PLO never properly ratified these Accords, although there was pretense of having done so.  Even more significantly, the PLO was committed to changing clauses in its Charter that call for Israel’s destruction.  Again, there was pretense — a committee to effect the changes was formed — but it never happened.  The PLO Charter of 1968, which calls for Israel’s destruction, is still in place.

It says that Palestine as defined by the Mandate is indivisible and that “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.”

http://www.iris.org.il/plochart.htm

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On May 4, 1994, the first agreement was signed, spelling out a limited pullback of Israeli forces in Gaza and Jericho, with the PLO moving into those areas.  At this time the Palestinian Authority was founded as an interim administrative authority for a period of five years.

On September 28, 1995, the Interim Agreement (called Oslo II) was signed.  This called for a more extensive pullback from major Arab population centers, with the PA assuming responsibility.  Three areas were defined: (A) in which the PA has total control, (B) in which the PA has civil control and Israel retains responsibility for security, and (C), in which Israel has total control.

All Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are in Area (C).  There is nothing in this Interim Agreement that prohibits or restricts the establishment or expansion of Jewish communities in that area.

According to Oslo agreements, so called “final status issues” must be resolved via negotiations:  Borders of Israel, potential division of Jerusalem, the nature of the Palestinian Arab entity, etc.

Unilateral actions that achieve a change in the basic situation are said to be a violation of the Accords, which require negotiations.

PLEASE NOTE:  The Oslo Accords do not specifically call for the formation of a full Palestinian State, although that is the working assumption today. The goal, as stated in the Declaration of Principles is “negotiations…leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242…” (From 1967, discussed above.)  These were supposed to be the negotiations that would finally determine Israel’s border to the east. Until his death, PM Yitzhak Rabin spoke of an autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs that was short of full statehood.  With these negotiations was to come peace.

Declaration of Principles:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/middle_east/israel_and_the_palestinians/key_documents/1682727.stm

Interim Agreement
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/interim.html

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Taqiyya

Put simply, this is a Muslim propensity for falsehoods or deception in certain circumstances. This behavior is not only approved but sometimes mandated by Sharia (Islamic) law if it benefits Islam or protects Muslims.

See: http://www.islam-watch.com/Warner/Taqiyya-Islamic-Principle-Lying-for-Allah.htm

The fact that Palestinian Arabs practice taqiyya — which Islamic scholar Raymond Ibrihim says is mainstream in Islam, and…very prevalent in Islamic politics — makes it more difficult for Israel to make its case.

Palestinian Arabs, for example, claim that they are the indigenous population in Palestine, descended from the Canaanites or other ancient peoples, while the Jews have no history in the land.

The reality is that those who today call themselves “Palestinians,” until a few decades ago identified simply as part of the Arab nation.  In fact, before the founding of the modern state of Israel, it was the Jews who were referred to as Palestinians, not the Arabs.

Similarly, Palestinian Arabs say that the Jews are on “their” land and must give it back.

The reality is that there has never been a Palestinian state, on this land or anywhere.  There is no case to be made for calling it “their” land.

As well, the Palestinian Arabs say they want a “two-state solution” and will live in peace next to Israel, if Israel will only return to it’s Green Line “borders.”

The reality is that the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was founded in 1964,before Israel had secured Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  What the PLO wanted to “liberate” was Israel inside the Green Line.

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If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

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Inappropriate Use of the Fourth Geneva Convention

By Eli E. Hertz

Background

The language of Article 49 was crafted in the wake of World War II and the Nazi occupation – an occupation that led to a war of aggression in which Nazi Germany attacked its neighbors with impunity, committing a host of atrocities against civilian populations, including deportation and displacement of local populations in occupied Europe. Millions were sent to forced labor camps and those of particular ethnic origin, most notably the Jews, were sent to their deaths in the gas chambers. The drafters of Article 49 were concerned with preventing future genocide against humanity.

Critics and enemies of Israel, including members of the UN and organs such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have come to use the Geneva Convention as a weapon against Israel, even when statements by authoritative analysts, scholars and drafters of the document contradict everything said by those who distort history for politically motivated reasons.

It is common knowledge that from its birth, Israel follows customarily international humanitarian law without being told or forced to do so by outside authorities.

“Occupied Territory”

The term “occupied territory,” which appears in the Fourth Geneva Convention, originated as a result of the Nazi occupation of Europe. Though it has become common parlance to describe the West Bank and Gaza as “occupied territories,” there is no legal basis for using this term in connection to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, categorically rejected the use of the term “occupied territory” to describe the territories controlled by Israel on the following counts:

(1) Article 49 relates to the invasion of sovereign states and is inapplicable because the West Bank did not and does not belong to any other state.

(2) The drafting history of Article 49 [Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] – that is, preventing “genocidal objectives” must be taken into account. Those conditions do not exist in Israel’s case.

(3) Settlement of Jews in the West Bank is voluntary and does not displace local inhabitants. Moreover, Stone asserted: that “no serious dilution (much less extinction) of native populations” [exists]; rather “a dramatic improvement in the economic situation of the [local Palestinian] inhabitants since 1967 [has occurred].”

Deportation and Forced Transfer

Arab opposition to Jewish settlements is based on the last paragraph of Article 49. The “Occupying Power” may not “Deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

One can hardly believe this baseless ICJ assertion that Israel, the only free and democratic country in the Middle East used “deportation” and “forced transfer” of its own population into “occupied territories.”

Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention applies only to conflicts that “arise between two or more high Contracting Parties,” which is not the case at hand, as Israel is the only High Contracting Party (or state) in this conflict, and Jordan never was. Thus, the Fourth Geneva Convention is inapplicable!

Professor Julius Stone, one of the twentieth century leading authorities on the Law of Nations touches on the applicability of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, writing on the subject in 1980:

“That because of the ex iniuria principle [unjust acts cannot create law], Jordan never had nor now has any legal title in the West Bank, nor does any other state even claim such title. Article 49 seems thus simply not applicable. Even if it were, it may be added that the facts of recent voluntary settlements seem not to be caught by the intent of Article 49 which is rather directed at the forced transfer of the belligerent’s inhabitants to the occupied territory, or the displacement of the local inhabitants, for other than security reasons.

Support to Stone’s assertion can be found in Sir Professor Elihu Lauterpacht’s writing in 1968:

“Thus Jordan’s occupation of the Old City-and indeed of the whole of the area west of the Jordan river-entirely lacked legal justification; and being defective in this way could not form any basis for Jordan validly to fill the sovereignty vacuum in the Old City [and whole of the area west of the Jordan River].”

Professor Eugene Rostow, past Dean of Yale Law School, U.S. under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and a key draftee of UN Resolution 242, concluded that the Fourth Geneva Convention is not applicable to Israel’s legal position and notes:

“The opposition to Jewish settlements in the West Bank also relied on a legal argument – that such settlements violated the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the occupying power from transferring its own citizens into the occupied territories. How that Convention could apply to Jews who already had a legal right, protected by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, to live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was never explained.” It seems that the International Court of Justice never explained it either.

Article 80 of the United Nations Charter

The Mandates of the League of Nations have a special status in international law. They are considered to be trusts, indeed ‘sacred trusts.’ A trust does not end because the trustee dies [or] resigns.

UN Article 80 was specifically created in San Francisco on 26 June 1945 to protect the Jewish right of settlement in Palestine under the mandate against erosion in a world of ambitious states. Jews legal rights of settlements survived the British withdrawal in 1948.

The International Court of Justice [ICJ], Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [ICC), and the Fourth Geneva Convention lack the authority to affect ownership of the Territories of Judea and Samaria known also as the West Bank.

The Source (original publication) to the MYTHS and FACTS publication of “Inappropriate Use of the Fourth Geneva Convention” can be viewed at:http://www.MYTHSandFACTS.org/article_view.asp?articleID=255

23 comments

  1. Cema

    Excellent synopsis. Any chance to have this in other languages? ( Spanish, Portuguese, etc ? ). Thanks.

  2. pkorman

    Thank you for reposting this work. Much has been spent to rewrite history in favor of the Arab position. It is well past time for a full hearing.

    • Marco

      It is also imperative that this information about the State of Israel and his international legal status may correspond to the correct and undistorted facts in Wikipedia too, as it is the world’s most as a “reference” read source for everyone!

      • Unfortunately, Wikipedia is written by the public…not historians. As soon as it becomes historically correct, an anti-Israel zealot will change it. Too bad the masses don’t consider that. Thank G-d there are hundreds of PROPER LEGITIMATE sources!!

  3. Joachim Graf von Dieter

    EXCELLENT ! AM ISRAEL CHAI !!!

  4. Zvi

    The most infuriating aspect is that few Israeli politicians that insist on these truths’ practical ramifications in the face of the Israeli public and the world are voted into power, and even fewer of them have the courage to resist outside pressures to make further concessions.
    And I have not even mentioned the territory that actually belongs to Israel in the Horan region of today’s Syria.

  5. What a lot of nonsense. According to the ISRAELI GOVERNMENT the Mandate expired midnight May 14th 1948 (me time) http://pages.citebite.com/l1i0y3s8t7gjw

    The Mandate had to end in order that the Jewish and/or Arab States be declared as independent. One cannot be independent under a Mandate.

    Israel’s Declaration came into effect at 00:01 May 15th 1948 (me time) according to the ISRAELI GOVERNMENT of 1948

    May 15, 1948 Letter From the Agent of the Provisional Government of Israel to the President of the United States, “MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I have the honor to notify you that the state of Israel has been proclaimed as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947, and that a provisional government has been charged to assume the rights and duties of government for preserving law and order within the boundaries of Israel, for defending the state against external aggression, and for discharging the obligations of Israel to the other nations of the world in accordance with international law. The Act of Independence will become effective at one minute after six o’clock on the evening of 14 May 1948, Washington time.”http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf

  6. Caroline

    People need to look at the point of six minutes fifty seconds of the above video from Howard Grief and also the point of seven minutes twenty-eight seconds. Those points are very important.

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