“The claim that Israeli settlements are illegal was flimsy in 1978 and is ridiculous in 2019.” That’s the primary takeaway in one of my favorite editorials of 2019, written by Professor Eugene Kontorovich at George Mason University Scalia Law School. Below I’ve bolded its key points.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank do not violate international law. That is now America’s official view, announced November 18 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The historic decision repudiates the conclusions of a 1978 State Department memorandum.
For decades, Israel’s detractors have appealed to consensus, asserting that settlements are illegal because the entire international community agrees they are illegal. As with Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the Trump administration has refused to be cowed by a hollow consensus. By dissenting, the U.S. has destroyed both the consensus and the frail arguments that relied on it.
The four-page 1978 memo, written by legal adviser Herbert Hansell, was hardly a thorough study. It painted with broad strokes across several issues and cited no precedent for its key conclusions. Most important, its legal analysis of occupation and settlements has never been applied, by the U.S. or anyone else, to any other comparable situation.
Hansell’s memo took two analytic steps. First, it concluded that Israel was an “occupying power” in the West Bank. Next, it invoked an obscure provision of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which says the “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Hansell concluded that Jews who have moved past the Green Line into disputed territory have somehow been “deported or transferred” there by the state of Israel.
West Bank never part of Jordan
Under international law, occupation occurs when a country takes over the sovereign territory of another country. But the West Bank was never part of Jordan, which seized it in 1949 and ethnically cleansed its entire Jewish population. Nor was it ever the site of an Arab Palestinian state.
Moreover, a country cannot occupy territory to which it has sovereign title, and Israel has the strongest claim to the land. International law holds that a new country inherits the borders of the prior geopolitical unit in that territory. Israel was preceded by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, whose borders included the West Bank. Hansell’s memo fails to discuss this principle for determining borders, which has been applied everywhere from Syria and Lebanon to post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine.
Even on its own terms, the memo’s conclusions no longer apply. Because occupation is part of the law of war, Hansell wrote, the state of occupation would end if Israel entered into a peace treaty with Jordan. In 1994 Jerusalem and Amman signed a full and unconditional peace treaty, but the State Department neglected to update the memo.
Even if there were an occupation, the notion that it creates an impermeable demographic bubble around the territory — no Jew can move in — has no basis in the history or application of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Almost every prolonged occupation since 1949— from the Allies’ 40-year administration of West Berlin to Turkey’s 2016 occupation of northern Syria — has seen population movement into the occupied territory. In none of these cases has the U.S., or the United Nations, ever claimed a violation of this Geneva Convention provision.
Mr. Pompeo’s action shows the U.S. understands that we can’t have one international law for one country and another for the rest of the world.
To Professor Kontorovich’s excellent secular analysis, Zola would have added that Israel, unlike any other nation ever, has a divine right to its land, thanks to the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1–3). To see this ministry’s classic 11-program television series Israel: By Divine Right!, visit www.levitt.tv/classic_zola and look beneath the subheading “Israel.” While there, you might also appreciate our hard-hitting, classic three-program Whose Land Is It? series. Check out, too, our booklet, Israel’s Right to the Land!.
Regarding this ministry’s two-Testament, pro-Israel Bible teaching, 2019 was a fine year for our weekly television program, monthly newsletters, www.levitt.com, and other outreaches.
Our ministry televises top-drawer theological teaching from a variety of experts. Meanwhile, all of the teaching from Zola, Jeff & Sandra, and Myles & Katharine is archived indefinitely at levitt.tv for free viewing, 24/7 on demand.
David and Kirsten Hart host in a manner similar to Ed Sullivan, introducing veteran Bible teachers, including theologians who reside in Israel. The OJR (Our Jewish Roots) format offers digestible segments of inspirational teaching, spectacular scenery, and inspirational music.
Throughout 2019, Zola Levitt Presents (now called Our Jewish Roots) featured fine television series such as:
For four decades, our ministry has dispersed tens of millions of newsletters and other Biblical items across America and overseas. Did you know that more than 1,100 brothers and sisters in bonds read our Levitt Letter each month? For over 30 years, our small outreach has been one of America’s steadiest, most effective prison ministries.
Several times per year, our To The Jew First benevolence sends pairs of emissaries to witness in the Holy Land. Writing our monthly “On the Ground in Israel” column, recording artist and ZLM Hebrew teacher Sarah Liberman shares anecdotes about living as a Sabra (native Israeli) and completed Jew.
This ministry’s monthly Personal Bible Study Letter complements the Levitt Letter by offering in-depth Bible lessons from Tony Derrick, who earned a Master of Divinity from Criswell College in Dallas and served as Zola’s understudy while managing our Holy Land tours.
Our website helps distribute our newsletters and television program. Please take a moment to explore each of www.levitt.com’s eight dropdown menus: Home, Zola TV, Levitt Letter, Zola Tours, Store, Donations, Information, and Discussion.
The “Zola TV” tab opens to our Broadcast Schedule, Video Archives, and more, including a dedicated “Watch Zola” icon. The “Levitt Letter” menu offers our newsletter archive and a free subscription to our free flash newsletter, Levitt Letter Extra. Clicking on the “Donations” tab lets you contribute cash, vehicles, gift cards, and assets such as stock and real estate.
The New Year 2020 will bring more edifying Messianic Bible teaching from Dr. Seif, music with David & Kirsten, and pro-Israel commentary:
As “cord cutters” abandon cable television, airtime rates may fall and become bargains. Let’s hope and pray for that to happen since Freeform, ION, and INSP networks became too secular for us to stay with them. Our program remains on Daystar Network as well as on dozens of independent stations. Now we are ready to pursue new networks and stations with our customary on-location teaching and updated program title, Our Jewish Roots.
This is where I ask you to prayerfully help us rebuild our television audience even as ZLMers increasingly turn to our free, on-demand programming at www.levitt.tv. Loyal donors have been practicing sensible stewardship by focusing their giving on our small, efficient organization rather than on larger ones who seem to focus on fundraising more than Bible teaching.
If it is God’s will for this outreach to flourish in the tumultuous battleground of broadcast television, then it’s time for your renewed commitment to contribute funds and prayers now and throughout the new year. Even if not, at least this ministry has blazed the trail to become a monumental provider of timeless Bible teaching in many forms at www.levitt.com.
In His service,
P.S. Because of reader and viewer response, fundraising accounts for less than 1% of ZLM’s expenses! Still accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), this ministry delivers solid, Messianic Bible teaching and pro-Israel commentary via television, bulk mail, and the Internet. Thank you so very much for your ongoing help!
Happy New Year! How in the world is it already 2020? What an exciting beginning to the next ten years of our lives! I hope you can catch the excitement we have at the ministry. Are you ready to join us in the new things God is doing? (Isaiah 43:19)
The first characteristic we learn about God is that He is a creator. And He has never stopped creating. It’s His infinite nature (another characteristic). The good news? You and I are made in His image. We, too, were designed to create. What a magnificent quality to embrace. That’s exactly what we workers at Zola Levitt Ministries are doing with Our Jewish Roots.
Producer Ken Berg, the whole TV production team, Dr. Seif, and Kirsten and I are working on new, creative, and insightful ways to spread the Good News through Jewish eyes. With Zola’s timeless insights and wisdom guiding us, we are producing innovative television series with dramatic re-enactments (Ken Berg’s specialty) and, of course, incorporating Zola’s timeless music. Get ready! I think you’re going to love watching what Our Jewish Roots program will bring every week in 2020.
It’s a treat to hear from Mark Levitt in this Personal Letter. We are thankful for his strategic guidance and wisdom as we venture into our program’s new season. Words can’t express the gratitude we feel for all of you readers, especially our numerous and valuable prayer warriors.
Kirsten and I pray that 2020 will be the year that Zola Levitt Ministries reaches more people in more countries than ever with the Good News of Yeshua’s Gospel. Your contributions will make that a reality. Your prayers, whether or not you can donate, will, of course, multiply our resources.
What better way to bring the Bible to life than to take a study pilgrimage to the Holy Land! Our cutoff date for the March tour is quickly approaching. If you have a passport in hand and your suitcase ready, call our office to reserve your seat. If you need a little more time, consider journeying with us this coming fall. We can make your dream of walking where Jesus walked a reality. In fact, we love doing that! Ask your whole family or Sunday School class to join you in exploring the Holy Land. The more the merrier!
|Deluxe (Israel only)||Mar 16–26||$5,288|
|Grand Petra (Israel & Petra)||Mar 16–29||$6,488|
|Deluxe (Israel only)||Oct 19–29|
|Grand Petra (Israel & Petra)||Oct 19–Nov 01|
|Grand Athens (Greece & Israel)||Oct 13–29||Prices to be determined|
|Ultra Grand (Greece & Israel & Petra)||Oct 13–Nov 01|
We hope you’re watching Our Jewish Roots every week. Our parents watch the broadcast on TV, while we watch it through levitt.tv. Whether you see our program via television or computer, we think you’ll treasure this month’s new episodes:
Entitled OJR: Our Future, the first program of the year will complement 2019’s year-end program, ZLP: Our Past. In the weeks following, you’ll see the first four programs of Joshua: More than a Conqueror.
Joshua: More than a Conqueror — The Joshua series (with Bearded Bible Brother Joshua in the title role) explores Joshua’s rise from dependable apprentice to faithful leader of Israel. Dr. Jeffrey Seif offers valuable leadership lessons from corresponding Holy Land locations. David and Kirsten Hart discuss the meanings and applications with Dr. Seif during dramatic reenactments from Joshua’s life.
Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim! —
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! — Psalm 122:6
David & Kirsten
P.S. Thank you, Dear Reader, for joining and staying with our battle for the Lord.
Claiming that Israeli settlements are illegal was flimsy in 1978 and is ridiculous in 2020. Good riddance to the 1978 State Dept. memorandum!
“Here is my gift for January. I pray for God’s mighty hand to touch new viewers as ZLM reaches for more households with solid Bible teaching.”
Zola offers irrefutable reasons why only the Jews are the Holy Land’s rightful owners. He also visited Ramallah and interviewed Hanan Ashrawi. Subsequent review sessions with two scholarly Christians unveil the fallacies in her assertions.
Transcript of our “Whose Land Is It?” TV shows. Zola offers irrefutable reasons why only the Jews are the Holy Land’s rightful owners. Zola visited Ramallah and interviewed Hanan Ashrawi, considered by some to be the Darth Vader of Palestinian spokespeople.
From “Shalom” to the chai symbol standing for “Life!” itself to “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem” to the flag of Israel, you’ll be ready for any occasion.
Featuring an introduction by Zola, Israel’s Right to the Land! pulls abundant evidence from the Scriptures, and directly addresses the 12 key issues that resolve this topic once and for all.