On March 14 Israel Truth Week, an initiative dedicated to educating Canadians about Israel, held its first event at a university. Toronto’s Ryerson University hosted a presentation by Salomon Benzimra on the legal rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.
Organized jointly by ITW, Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR) and the Ryerson Israeli Student Association, the lecture’s goal was to confront the propaganda spread within our universities during the Israeli Apartheid Week.
In front of the audience, which included students and visitors from outside of the university, Mark Vandermaas introduced Salomon Benzimra and his work. Goldi Steiner from CILR provided information about the activities of the organization, which include spreading the truth about Israel not only in Canada, but also in Israel, where not enough has been done to communicate that truth to the younger generation. The targets of the tireless work of CILR are not limited just to individuals and organizations; they also include politicians like Moshe Yaalon, a supporter of CILR, who recently became the new Defense Minister of Israel.
In his lecture Salomon Benzimra covered the most important facts about how the rights of the Jewish people over the land of Israel were recognized.
The audience listened with interest the concise presentation, which covered the history of the issue from ancient times to the most recent developments. I am not going to cover the presentation in detail in this post – I have done that before when writing about his other appearances (including the Israel Truth Week conference talk on March 5, 2013). Besides, you can find everything explained in his book “The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel” (available at Amazon).
I want to write about another important thing – under the ITW time constraints, Salomon had to limit his talk to the time allotted, there wasn’t much time for communication with the audience. The Ryerson event provided plenty of time for a dialogue with the people present.
While answering the questions, Salomon had the opportunity to share his extensive knowledge about the problems facing Israel.
As it has happened before, a question came about the discrepancy between the emotional and rational approach toward those issues. While the lecture covers convincingly the facts, many people, especially activists, tend to ignore them and act upon emotions that are difficult to confront.
From that point of view, an elderly gentleman shared the case of his family. His eldest son is trying to convert everybody to the idea that Jews and Palestinians are going to live in peace and harmony, if both sides compromised enough, especially if the Jews admit that they are occupiers. The father’s attempts to show that this is a utopian idea disproved by the history of the conflict, fell on deaf ears.
Salomon’s reply was that regardless of the emotional issues involved, facts remain facts. The restoration of Israel was not a random whim, but part of extensive negotiations after World War I. Those international treaties shaped the borders of many countries and so far nobody has questioned that. The Versailles treaties reshaped Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. They also created the new country of Yugoslavia. The League of Nations’ Mandates, one of which was supposed to be the new Jewish state, also resulted in the creation of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
It is impossible to question the legality of Israel without putting in doubt the whole legal framework, which affected so many countries. Logic requires the admission that if Israel’s creation is illegal, so is everything else in those treaties. Of course, only the provisions affecting Israel are seen that way. It’s not difficult to figure out that in this case we are dealing with an emotion – pure hate for the Jews and Israel, which has no place in international relations. It should be refuted in the same way in conversations, because regardless of the emotions felt, facts eventually prevail, though not as quickly as we wish.
Another interesting question concerned the peace negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, specifically the demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders.
Salomon methodically showed the absurdity of that demand. Although the Jews reluctantly agreed to the division of the Mandate land by the UN in 1948, the Arabs rejected it and even tried to destroy the Jewish State. That voided the partition resolution and the so-called 1967 borders are nothing but armistice lines. PLO, founded in 1964, had no demands for those territories while they were under Jordanian and Egyptian control.
It is absurd to push cease-fire lines as official border of a country without negotiations and reaching an agreement by all sides involved. But what is unacceptable in any other part of the world, seems to be the rule when dealing with Israel – the demonization and questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish state seem to be the “normal” approach in that area.
One of the attendees expressed the frustration that such important historical facts, like those covered by Salomon Benzimra, get such a little attention in the media. I fully share that frustration, although I think that the truth would eventually prevail albeit in a long and slow process of education.
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