On March 22, 2019, President Donald Trump unceremoniously tweeted that the United States would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights. He explained that such sovereignty “is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability.” Everything about this tweet is wrong – as a matter of law, policy and fact.
The Golan Heights, located in the southwest of Syria, was seized by Israel during the 1967 War when, in the course of six days, Israel also came to control Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The United Nations, which was in session during the war, deliberated the matter for nearly six months. Controversy revolved around whether Israel should be compelled to withdraw from the Arab territories immediately or whether it could, as the Lyndon B. Johnson administration urged, be able to retain them as consideration in exchange for permanent peace. Despite Syrian and Palestinian opposition, in 1967 the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 242, which established the land-for-peace framework sought by the United States and Israel that declared that the territories would be returned in exchange for permanent peace.
The Resolution proved ineffective due to a lack of political will to establish peace together with Israel’s desire to retain the territories.
The recent maelstrom that enveloped Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her comments about the power of the Israel lobby is as frustrating as it is unsurprising. And it has everything to do with who she is and what she looks like.
Omar is a black Muslim woman, a refugee from Somalia, and, most importantly, defiant and unapologetic. Her visible markers of distinction—not white, not Christian, not male—make her a presumptive threat to the political establishment. These markers may not have triggered the establishment’s anxiety, however, had Omar simply adorned them as displays of diversity that could be celebrated during moments of performative tolerance once or twice a year, such as Black History Month or International Women’s Day. But Omar did not come to Congress to fit in. She does not apologize for being radically different or base her political agenda on making sure that she and others like her fit in. She came to confront the system that systematically excludes people like her. By definition, therefore, she is a threat the moment she walks into a room and before she even says a word.
Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She has taught international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University since Spring 2009. Noura is a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya. Read more . . .
My book, Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine(Stanford University Press, 2019) narrates the Palestinian struggle for freedom as told through the relationship between international law and politics during five critical junctures between 1917-2017 to better understand the emancipatory potential of law and to consider possible horizons for the future.
My research interests include human rights law, humanitarian law, refugee law, national security law, social justice, critical race theory, and the Palestinian-Israel conflict. Read more . . .
As a Co-Founding Editor of Jadaliyya, I have the privilege of working with a remarkable team of scholars and analysts who have their hand on the pulse of dynamic change and historical perspective in the Middle East.
Legal Agenda is a Beirut-based NGO established in 2010 dedicated to legal reform throughout the Arab world through civic and judicial empowerment including the interdisciplinary study of law and society.