“Occupation” Doesn’t Accurately Describe the Situation of Either Western Sahara or the West Bank

As part of the deal normalizing relations between Israel and Morocco, the U.S. recognized the latter’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, the status of which has been contested since Spain abandoned it in 1975. The UN and most countries have generally considered the area “disputed,” while maintaining the consensus that the West Bank is “occupied” by Israel. But, argues Eugene Kontorovich, the two territories have similar histories, and, if anything, Jerusalem’s claims to the West Bank are stronger than Morocco’s on Western Sahara. And this is only the beginning of the confusion in the widespread treatment of both disputes:

Traditionally, the law of occupation applies only to sovereign territory of foreign states. This covers most cross-border conflicts but not some post-colonial transitions where there is a gap in sovereign control. . . . When Israel took the West Bank in 1967, it wasn’t the territory of a foreign country. The West Bank had itself been occupied by Jordan in 1948, at the end of British administration. . . . Concerns that the Trump administration’s actions [regarding Judea and Samaria] could be used to justify Russia’s takeover of Crimea are baseless. Crimea was indisputably part of Ukraine, a sovereign country.

Self-determination in international law doesn’t typically mean the right of a people to have its own country. It can be satisfied by some degree of self-governance, and autonomy in internal matters such as language and culture. This is why the U.S. recognition was coupled with an endorsement of an “autonomy plan” for Western Sahara. The Palestinians today have vastly more autonomy than the Saharawi would have in the Moroccan plan.

The Obama administration also supported Moroccan sovereignty coupled with Sahrawi autonomy, as did other countries such as Spain and France—and even the Palestinian Authority. Morocco’s position has bipartisan support in Congress, and thus the U.S. will likely maintain the recognition policy.

There is a huge gap between many countries’ stances on Western Sahara and the West Bank that can’t be explained by legal differences. It will be a bad look for a Biden administration to harp on Israeli “occupation” and “settlers” while maintaining recognition of Morocco’s 1975 takeover.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: International Law, Morocco, U.S. Foreign policy, West Bank

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University