The San Remo Conference Turned Jewish Historic Rights into Legal Rights

This week marks the centennial of the San Remo conference, one of a series of international negotiations in which the victorious Allies resolved the various issues stemming from World War I. Dore Gold explains how it set the stage for the Jewish self-determination:

San Remo dealt with the disposition of territories that until 1920 were a part of the Ottoman empire, which had been defeated in the war. Formally, the Ottomans renounced their claim to sovereignty over these lands . . . in the Treaty of Sèvres, which was signed the same year as San Remo, on August 10, 1920. . . . What these postwar treaties enabled was the emergence of the system of Arab states, on the one hand, and the emergence of a “national home for the Jewish people,” on the other.

The Balfour Declaration from 1917 was in essence a declaration of British policy. But San Remo converted the Balfour Declaration into a binding international treaty, setting the stage for the League of Nations Mandate, which was approved in 1922. It has been noted that at San Remo, Jewish historic rights became Jewish legal rights.

Were these legal rights of the Jewish people superseded in subsequent years? At the time that the UN Charter was drafted in 1945, officials were cognizant that this argument might be raised. Therefore, they incorporated Article 80 into the UN Charter stating specifically that “nothing in this chapter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.” Thus, the foundations of Jewish legal rights established through San Remo were preserved for the future.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Balfour Declaration, History of Zionism, International Law, Treaty of San Remo

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy