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British Expert on International Law Says Israel Was Not Guilty of Aggression

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Gen. de Gaulle’s “first shot” definition of aggression which he attributed to Israel in last June’s Arab-Israeli war, is not an acceptable definition of the term “aggression,” an expert in international law declared here last night.

Prof. Arthur I. Goodhart, former Master of University College, Oxford, told members of the Anglo-Israel Association attending his lecture at the Royal Society of Arts that Gen. de Gaulle’s definition would mean that “a man can do nothing to defend himself unless his enemy has struck first.”

“If threats are associated with a display of force they become an immediate danger,” he said. “In the days when men carried swords, the British law provided that ‘he who first lays hands on his weapon to do another injury’ was guilty of a crime. That is still the law today. If a burglar approached me with a gun in his hand, I need not wait until he shoots to defend myself. The problem of aggression in the Israel-Arab war depends therefore on the answer to the question: when the Egyptians massed 1,000 tanks on the Israeli frontier, were they there to attack Israel or to defend Egypt, 200 miles away across the Sinai Desert? Or again, was there not Egyptian aggression when she forcibly closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships?”

Prof. Goodhart criticized the decision of U.N. Secretary-General U Thant to withdraw the United Nations Emergency Force from the frontier at Nasser’s request last May as “astonishing” and said that the reasons subsequently given by the Secretary General were “invalid and unconvincing.” He said that the implication of Mr. Thant’s statement was that “Israel was a wrong-doer because, when surrounded by the armies of four enemy states, she failed to wait until they had struck first.”

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