Border Control / It is a tree of life, unless you are Palestinian
The chief military judge in the West Bank has been supporting a campaign to grab land and further the interests of settlements, brandishing the Torah as his weapon Acquaintances of Maj. Adrian Agasee from the settlement of Givat Ze'ev will testify that he is pleasant mannered. During the 15 years that he served as chief judge of the military appeals court in Judea and Samaria, he "never took the law into his own hands" as they say about Yaakov Teitel (as if there were a law in Israel that permits murder and violence).
Agasee had much cleaner methods to make the lives of his Palestinian neighbors a misery. Everything that the English-born Agasee did on behalf of the Greater Land of Israel - and he did quite a bit - was in the name of the Torah and according to the laws of the state of Israel.
Not always laws that were the product of this country; when talking about the Holy Land, everything is permissible, including distorted interpretation of old Ottoman laws that allowed the state to take possession of a subject's land and afterward to claim legal possession.
In June we reported in this column that even the state prosecution was of the opinion that the appeals committee had supported Agasee's interpretations on behalf of the settlers. In an unusual step, it petitioned the High Court of Justice against the committee's decision to reject the appeal of a Palestinian whose land had been "annexed" to a nearby settlement.
In an interview with Meron Rapoport, the editor of the Web site haokets.org, Agasee gives a rare glimpse into the judicial hotbed in which the "legal" settlements flourish alongside the "stray weeds."
When lawyer-officers like Agasee are the supreme appeals authority for the Palestinians, it is possible to understand how one million dunams of land in the West Bank were declared state land and became part of the "settlement state."
During most of the second intifada, Agasee, who was the sole judge who ruled in cases of administrative detention, sent hundreds of Palestinians to prison without trial.
When he was released from the Israel Defense Forces, Agasee joined the law office of Naftali Wartzberger who represented, among others, Rabin assassin Yigal Amir and Avigdor Eskin, who issued a death curse on the murdered prime minister.
Here are a few selected quotes from the interview with Haokets.
On historical right to the land:
"Today I see how important it was to do these things [declaring state lands in the territories]. That is what maintains our existence in the Land of Israel. Just as our forefather Abraham bought the Machpela Cave, and like King David bought the Temple Mount, this is the property of the Land of Israel and this is the heart of the conflict ... It is a legitimate means of continuing the acts begun by our forefathers. There is no possibility of separating three things - the people of Israel, the land of Israel and the Torah of Israel. When the three things are joined together, we have a promise from the Almighty to safeguard us. We are a nation that shall dwell alone and not consider the gentiles. That is a basic rule in understanding the entire Torah."
On a Jewish state:
"When you say that [the land of Israel] in general is open to argument because it is not a promissory note of the Torah but rather the promissory note of some mandate in the UN or the League of Nations or of the gentiles, you can't win. Herzl wrote a book called "The Jewish State." We should have called our country the Jewish State and not the State of Israel. If you had called it the Jewish state, you would have foregone the entire subject of the Palestinians, Arabs. [They] would have known that this country belongs to the Jews from the point of view of the Torah. And there were 22 Arab states."
Finally Agasee states that "it is not only for the good of the people of Israel to keep the commandments of the Torah of Israel in the Land of Israel, it is for the good of the entire world."
And what rights will the Palestinians have in the Jewish state?
"I am talking about Utopia, about the Temple and the Sanhedrin (Jewish court) and the rights of gentiles who live inside the Land of Israel and who have numerous rights. 'I shall judge you by one law.'"
And until the redemption, should the situation continue in which the Palestinians remain without political rights?
"Yes. I cannot see a political solution. It is a process that goes against nature."
A lesson for Sa'ar
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar recently learned an interesting lesson about the connection between the settlements, academia and international relations. During a visit to Madrid, the minister asked the Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Moratinos, to use his influence to annul the decision to dismiss the Ariel College from the finals of the international competition in solar-powered construction.
The Spaniards reminded the visitor that his predecessor, Prof. Yuli Tamir, had publicly announced that the Education Ministry and the Council for Higher Education in Israel did not recognize the decision by the college and the Judea and Samaria council for higher learning to declare that institution, which is located in the occupied territories, a university.
Sa'ar, who is a senior Likud member, of course has the authority to overturn the decision of Tamir, but he was warned that if he were to declare that there is no difference between Ariel and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the boycott of services and products from the territories declared by hundreds of academic institutes in different parts of the world would not stop at Ariel.
Even without that, the wave of European boycotts against the occupation has grown recently. For example, human rights groups in the British Isles have issued a call to boycott the mineral water products that Mei Eden produces in Scotland in protest against the plant that the company operates "on occupied Palestinian land."
The only plant that Mei Eden has over the 1967 lines is located on the Golan Heights.
It is not only in Europe, however. In a discussion in Toronto this week a group of teachers proposed that the pension fund in Ontario should withdraw its investments from Israeli firms. Before that, an organization of Canadian lawyers petitioned the court to declare the activities of a group of Canadian entrepreneurs who are building in the settlement of Modi'in Ilit, "a war crime."