From Jim Hutchens: During one of my stays in Israel I had the good fortune to meet Howard Grief in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Being aware of the Christian Zionist emphasis of the JerUSAlem Connection, he had a mutual friend introduce us. What followed was an hour of the most cogent and compelling conversation during which Dr. Grief explained the legal rationale, according to International law, for what God had decreed by Covenant as a homeland for the Jewish people. Sadly, Israel’s leaders have refrained from giving maximum emphasis to these arguments in their defense. Thanks to AFSI’s William Mehlman’s Memoriam to Howard Grief, we have a concise summary of Dr. Grief’s irrefutable magnum opus.
Howard Grief did not suffer fools gladly, most notably those, including jurists, who in the face of documented historical evidence of Israel’s sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Golan, as agent and assignee of the Jewish People, persist in referring to those areas as “disputed,” “unallocated” and, most offensively, “occupied” territories. Irrespective of the direction of the prevailing political winds, Howard might have believed that the legal questions had been put to rest with the publication in 2008 of his The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law, the 660-page product of more than two decades of ground-breaking research that should have shattered every myth, every lie, every distortion and misrepresentation of fact employed over the 65 years of Israel’s reestablishment to negate the sovereign right of the Jewish People to their National Home.
Alas, five years after the book’s publication and two months since Grief’s tragic, untimely passing, the myths, the lies, the distortions show no sign of loosening their grip on global consciousness. If he oversold himself on the compelling power of truth in an age in which “narratives” have all but supplanted historical fact, Grief could not have envisioned the solid wall of indifference with which The Legal Foundation was greeted by the media.
Arguably the most important book published in Israel since the l967 war garnered not one review from a Leftist-dominated Israeli press. A review of the book by this writer did appear in Outpost and with the efforts of Americans For A Safe Israel, in several American-Jewish weeklies. Howard Grief did not cast himself as the instrument for setting Israel’s legal and historical record straight when he gave up a successful 23-year law practice in Montreal to make aliya in 1989.
As he points out in the introduction to his book, it was thrust upon him with the amazing discovery that 41 years after the state was declared, he could find“no single book that contained an organized and systematic presentation of Israel’s rights to the Land of Israel –not just the area included in the State of Israel, but to all of the land east and west of the Jordan…” Did any such “rights” exist? He was determined to find out.
Two events triggered his decision to go public with what he was discovering: A 93 page position paper on the key elements of Israel’s founding that he put together in 1991 for presentation to the Carnegie Foundation in New York by Yuval Ne’eman, prelude to a speech to be given by Ne’eman, then Minister of Energy and Infrastructure in the Yitzhak Shamir government. Grief served as legal advisor to the ministry from 1991-93.
The second event was Ne’eman’s decision to do an article for the prestigious Global Affairs magazine citing Grief’s research as the authority for his conclusions. As a legal historian Grief at that point had already gone where no man had gone before. Beneath the accumulated debris of 70 years of history, he had unearthed the forgotten key, the Rosetta stone that spelled out the Jewish People’s sovereign right to the Land of Israel in all its historic dimensions. It was the April, 1920 San Remo Resolution of the five victorious World War I Allied powers – America, Britain, France, Italy and Japan. British Foreign Minister Lord George Curzon, no defender of Jewish aspirations in Palestine, grudgingly called it the “Jewish Magna Carta.“
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, America’s most passionate Zionist, remarked that the boundaries of the future Jewish state had been set and that there was no need for additional discussion. Indeed, in transforming the 1917 Balfour Declaration into a binding legal document, making it the basis of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and further incorporating it into the Mandate for Palestine, obligating Britain to aid and encourage Jewish immigration and settlement to the National Jewish Home, the San Remo Resolution was the ticket to Jewish sovereignty, albeit one that a Palestinian Jewish population of 60,000 at the time was not yet in a position to exercise.
“Once international law in the form of the San Remo Resolution recognized that de jure sovereignty over all regions of historical Palestine and the Land of Israel had been vested in the Jewish People,” Grief observed, “neither the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers nor the Council of the League of Nations, nor its successor, the United Nations, could thereafter revoke or alter Jewish sovereignty by a new decision…If either of these bodies really had such a right in regard to Palestine and the Land of Israel, the sovereignty of every state in the world over its own territory would be put in jeopardy.”
In ratifying the 1924 “Anglo-American Convention on Palestine,” Grief submits, the United States “became a contracting party” to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine assigned to Britain for administration, “a document not only devoid of any provision for an Arab state within Palestine, but one that specifically prohibited the partition of the land for any purpose other than the creation of a National Jewish home.” In fact, then President Calvin Coolidge was not plowing new American legal ground with his signature to that document. He was simply reinforcing a unanimous resolution of the 67th Congress three years earlier, signed by his predecessor, President Warren G. Harding, recognizing a future Jewish state in “the whole of Palestine.”
President Barak Obama’s obsession with the creation of a bogus, irredentist “Palestinian Arab State” in Judea and Samaria is nothing less than a repudiation of the signatures of two American presidents and the unanimously expressed will of the U.S. Congress. While Howard did not live to see the wide-scale embrace of his seminal contribution to Israeli history and international law or mercifully the post-mortem assault–thus far unavailing –by an unforgiving Israeli Far-Left on his Wikipedia biography, he did live long enough to see The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law beginning to gain traction. Wherever Israel’s history and legal rights to the Land of Israel are discussed and debated these days, this is the book most often cited. Howard was too ill to accept the speaking engagements beginning to pour in from activist groups in the U.S., Canada, Scandinavia and Israel, but he went to his final rest knowing he had not labored in vain.
William Mehlman represents AFSI in Israel