Discussion between Mesha Zalman and Dr. Bill Friend

      Sorry to have taken so long to reply to your
email, but it took some time to attempt to decipher
your logic.
      First of all, the land was given to Jews after
God took us out of Egypt.

[ First of all, even allowing that that myth is true, God gave the land of
Canaan to the Hebrew tribes, one of which was the tribe of Judah.  Moreover,
if you bother to read your Tenakh you will note that the land was given only
on condition of the obdedience to the commandments.  Did you forget, "We
will do and we will listen"?  Remember, chaver, we were all there at Sinai,

  And true, we had to defeat
some tribes to be able to claim God's land.  We did
this with the help & will of God.

[ Yes the Tenakh many times, especially in Exodus and Numbers points out the
nature of realpolitik - That might makes right.  Especially when we all get
by with God on our side. ]

  Even after the
Temple was destroyed, however, some Jews continued to
live there.  Some were killed, some were taken by
Romans as slaves, and some fled.

[ Actually, and this is a historical fact, at the time of the destruction of
the Second Temple by the Romans, the vast majority of Jews in the world
lived OUTSIDE of Jerusalem, in various parts of the Roman Empire so they had
no need to flee to anywhere.  Then of course there were the Jews who had
been living in Babylon for centuries prior to that. ]

  But some Jews
continued to live there and never abandoned the land.
This alone gives Jews more a claim to the land than
Palestinians who wandered in later.

[ This of course is the usual Zionist argument, has no basis in property
rights litigation, and the point is contestable anyway on the grounds that
by that reasoning, anyone claiming to be a Canaanite is the one to whom the
land should REALLY be returned. ]

  But for some
Jews, there was no need for a right to return -- they
never left even with threats, killings, and wars.  The
right of return was given to all Jews by the Israeli
constitution which negates your claim of no legal
right to return.

[ Israel does NOT HAVE a Constitution. The "right of return" [ of course if
one has never been somewhere how can one return?   "Will you have some more
tea?" asked the Rabbit. "I can't have  more tea as I haven't had any yet.",
replied Alice.) is one of Israel's fundamental or Basic Laws.  The fact that
it is racist, and exclusivist has no bearing on the fact that the right of
return of the Palestinian refugees was acknowledged by the state of Israel
in its acceptance of UN resolution 194 as precondition for acceptance into
the United Nations.  ]

  The law of the state of Israel
guarantees this.  And the legality of Israeli law is
guaranteed by the Balfor Declaration,

[ This is absolutely absurd.  The legality of Israeli law is NOT guaranteed
by the Balfour Declaration.  In fact the Balfour Declaration, when you read
it carefully, dosen't really say very much substantive at all.

"His Majesty's government view WITH FAVOUR, the establishment  IN Palestine
of A national home for he Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours
to facilitate the achievement of this object,..."

Note in plain English what it really says is that the Brits thought it would
be a pretty good idea to have a National Home for Jews in Palestine
(basically because it would serve two purposes - it would get rid of a lot
of Jews from Britain and it would act as a vanguard for British dominance of
the region.  Lord Montagu, the only Jewish member of the cabinet, realized
this when he wrote his scathing letter entitled "On the Anti-Semitism of the
Present Government"), and we might actually do something like this if we win
the war against the Ottoman Turks (which is why we formulated this document
in the first place, because being the dopey anti-semites that we are, we
figure the Jews have all of this international power and will cause some
heretofore neutral countries, namely the USA to enter the Great War.  Heck,
we know the Jews have all this power because we all read The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion, right?
    Moeover the Balfour declaration had no force of law it was merely a
diplomatic statement of intent.  There are also two caveats placed in the
document because the members of the cabinet fully realized that they had
made two other agreements which conflicted with not only each other but with
the B.D. as well.  These two agreements were one made with the leader of the
Arabs of Greater Syria, Feisel Husseini, known as "The Hussein-McMahon
Agreements", and then the other secret agreement made with France and
Imperial Russia, known as "The Sykes-Picot agreement" in which the three
allied powers divided the Ottoman Empire among themselves.
    Not only that but the B.D. has two caveat segments contained therein,
which I realise they gloss over in Hebrew school but they are there

(1)....it beng clearly understood that NOTHING shall be done which may
prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities
in Palestine....

       Well aren't we being disingenuous here.  Note the absence by intent
of not prejudicing the "political rights" of "existing non-Jewish
communities" which at the time of the formulation of this document
constituted 90% of the population.  If there are ten men in a room and nine
are wearing blue jackets and one is wearing a red jacket, should we refer to
the nine as the "non-red"?

(2) ...or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other

       This of course was placed in at the behest of Lord Montagu and his
supporters because of the very real fear of the implications of "alienation"
of Jews who had integrated into the societies of which they were now
citizens, since the French and American Revolutions knocked down the doors
of religious segregation; as well as any implications of "dual loyalty",
that old bugaboo that continues to pop up till this day.   ]

 the recognition
of Israel by the world community (including the UN),

[ What "the world community" recognized at the Paris Peace conference, at
the insistance of the Zionists there, led by Chaim Weizmann and Max Nordau;
there being only one Arab present - and by the way no Arabs were consulted
during the formulation of the Balfour Declaration - was the incorporation of
the Balfour Declaration into the British Mandate.  Inspite of ploughing sand
for 30 years, the British maintained to the end that they never intended for
the formation of an exclusivist Jewish State in Palestine, but merely a
community in corporatum as part of the larger level A mandate which was to
have been made independent as soon as possible similar to other level A
mandates - something that never occurred for various political reasons.
   Currently there are more countries in the world that recognize Palestine
than recognize Israel.  The admission of Israel into the UN was based on the
acceptance of resolution 194 in which ALL of the refugees of the 1948 war
were to be repatriated.   The vote on the "Jewish State" of Partition Plan
UNGA 181 was achieved by a vote of 33-13 -10 (abstentions).  If taken today
it would utterly fail.  The United States directly controlled nearly a dozen
of the Yes votes (every country in South America) and the Soviets controlled
five votes (two satellite states, the Ukraine and Byelorussia, the latter
two being integral parts of the Soviet Union but counted in the UN as
separate countries at the time.).  The remaining yes votes were all western

and by declaration of the State of Israel in its

[ The Declaration of Establishment of the State of Israel, often misnamed
"The Declaration of Independence" for US consumption, guaranteed civil
rights to non-Jewish minorities, however the Declaration does not carry the
force of law, it is not one of the Basic Laws of the state of Israel.  Once
again, the state of Israel HAS NO CONSTITUTION, Ben-Gurion didn't want one,
even though a constitutional committee had been established.  It actually
still exists but has been somnolent for a half century. ]

      God promised Jews this land because we are his
chosen people.

[ "Do us a favor, next time, choose someone else!" - Tevya -   Not every
branch of Judaism holds to the concept of "chosen-ness" anymore,
specifically because of the way it has been misinterpreted.  Certainly the
Reconstructionists and Reform do not, and Conservative branches de-emphasize
it.   At any rate the thing Jews were chosen to do was to be " a light unto
the nations" to spread the word of God, not to take political dominance over
another people. ]

  Even many Christian churches recognize
this.  They call Jews God's chosen people.

[ The same fundamentalist churches also have stated that "God does not hear
the prayers of a Jew", go out of their way to try and convert as many Jews
as possible to their version of Christianity, and also sponsor "Messianic
Jewish organizations" such as Jews for Jesus and the Messianic Jewish
Alliance of America.
The reason they hold to that eschatology is because according to it, the
Second Coming of Christ cannot occur and the "millenium" cannot begin until
ALL the Jews return to the Holy Land. What they don't mention to Jews is
that 90% of them will be killed in the resultant Armageddon.  The remainder
will recognize Jesus as the Messiah and be "saved".  By the way, would you
like to buy this bridge in Brooklyn from me?  Cheap? ]

      Despite your wish, the Jews of the old Testament
are indeed the Jews of Israel (plus people who
converted; less Jews who left the religion).  If you
converted to Judaism, you, as a Jew, would have the
right to return).

[ But you can't return to somewhere you've never been to in the first place.
Kindly explain why a recent convert to Judaism (and I will allow here for
Halachic conversion only) who has never been to the Holy Land has more
rights to immigrate there than someone whose family has been living there
for centuries? ]

Jews recognize converts as Jews in
as good standing as ancient Jews.  Judaism is carried
by the mother -- even a child conceived from a
non-Jewish man is considered a Jew if the mother was

[ Two branches of Judaism also recognize descent from the father, especially
since raping and pillaging have for the most part gone out of fashion.]

      And despite your wish, there is no time limit on
the right to return.

[ There is also no statute of limitations on the crime of Murder. This is
something Ariel Sharon ought to consider.]

  Also, under Jewish law and
Christian law, sons are not to be punished because of
any sins of their fathers.  Sins are judged by God,
not humans.  You are not able to make moral judgment
because you are not God.

[ This of course is patently ridiculous.  All people make moral judgements
about issues all the time.  Otherwise if as you say, "you are not able to
make moral judgement", then anything goes and we let God sort it out, rather
than deciding the merit or demerit of something through our own intellect
and acculturation to the societies in which we live. ]

  So don't lecture Jews or
anyone else about morals.

[ Ah, the tabla blanca argument, here it comes.....]

      Descendents of Jews killed or forced from lands
or had property taken by Nazis can still make claim
for them just by being related to the deceased.  This
is universal law.

[ Yes, and that same law applies to the private properties stolen from
native Palestinians who fled from the fighting in 1948 and were not
permitted by Ben-Gurion to return.]

      As for the different opinions among Jewish
scholars, there is an old joke that if you put 3 Jews
in a room, you would have 5 different opinions.  Just
because one more Orthodox group may feel one way, that
doesn't make it law or universal opinion.

[ How about reconvening the Knesset, or the Synagogue Council of America,
take both groups lock the doors from the outside and come back in a few
hours.  Last man standing wins. ]

      My reference to the United States was that the US
still owns the land of the states of New Mexico,
California, Texas, Arizona, etc. because it won those
lands in war with the Mexicans.  Jews have the right
to Jerusalem under the same reasoning because they
defeated the ancient tribes who lived there and they
beat Arab armies many times who wished to take the
land from them that was given them by the Balfor
[ See above]

 They have the right to additional land
they won in war and are under no legal obligation to
return it.

[ You obviously do not realise that international law has changed since the
time that the U.S. expanded under its doctrine of "manifest destiny" and if
you want to argue that two wrongs make a right that is your prerogative.
However there is the Hague convention of 1909, and several Geneva
conventions, specifically Geneva IV which all have statutes pertaining to
the inadmissability of the taking of land by war.  Therefore Israel is under
every legal obligation to return the lands conquered in 1967 as reinforced
by UN resolutions 242 and 338, of the Security Council, which have the force
of international law.]

      Therefore, in summary, the land is Israeli
because 1) some Jews never left, 2) it was legally
given them under the Balfor Declaration, 3) it is
legally recognized by the UN and by the world
community.  The only land under contention is what was
won in the 1960s.

[ Again not true.  By accepting 181 and then deliberately taking over land
not relegated in that document to the Jewish state (the best example being
Jerusalem which is still legally considered a Corpus Separatum as it was in
that document, and is the reason why except for two minor central american
countries, no country in their world has an embassy in Jerusalem but in Tel
Aviv (which was designated to the Jewish State in UNGA 181.  Other land
under contention can be seen by looking at a map of the partition.]

 And that is due to them as the
spoils of war just like other world countries claim
land under the same grounds.

[ Claiming spoils of war under international law is now illegal.  We are not
in the 18th or 19th century anymore, or hadn't you noticed?]

Dr. Bill "Zevei" Friend
Member - The American Council for Judaism
Board of Advisors, Deir Yassin Remembered
 Royal Pain in the Butt  Award 1957, 1965, 1967-69, 1973, 1985, 1998