Reprinted from Arutz-7-- February 19, 1997

DO NOT RETURN THE GOLAN!

By Shlomo Kor

In This Article:

1. WHAT NETANYAHU COULD HAVE SAID

2. THE BIBLICAL CONNECTION

3. THE GOLAN: IN LATER HISTORY

4. PUTTING THE FACTS ON THE TABLE

5. A PRECEDENT FOR RETURNING THE GOLAN (TO ISRAEL)

1. WHAT NETANYAHU COULD HAVE SAID

Prime Minister Netanyahu visited President Clinton last week, and discussed with him the issue of the Golan Heights. After the meeting, Clinton still thinks that our connection with that region is only thirty years old. Even after the long press conference held by the two, I am sure that none of the journalists there learned that there is more to our claim on the Golan than just the Six-Day War. As a specialist in media relations, Netanyahu could have stood up before the world and showed them two photographs: one of the pre-1967 Golan, showing the Syrian outposts which rained bullets and bombs on Israel's settlements below, and the other of post-67 Golan, after Israel made it bloom with people, communities, agriculture, and more.

Even more: seeing as Netanyahu wrote a book on our right to the Land of Israel, and seeing as how he is the son of a historian, it is hard to understand why he did not present the long line of historical facts which document that the Golan is Israeli!

2. THE BIBLICAL CONNECTION

The Children of Israel settled in the Golan already during the times of Moses, immediately after the victory over Og, King of Bashan (Numbers 21,35). This was the beginning of our settlement history in our Land. Afterwards, Moses chose six cities of refuge, and Joshua carried out the decision: three on the west bank of the Jordan River, and three more on the east bank. One of the latter was Golan, of the inheritance of the family of Gershon, of the tribe of Menasseh. Much later, during the times of Kings David and Solomon, we continued to live in the Gilead and Golan. At one point, we lost it, and the Hasmonean King Alexander Yannai returned it to Jewish hands.

When we use this strange expression "to return the Golan," we must remember that it can only be used in regard to its transfer to Jewish control - for it is ours.

3. THE GOLAN: IN LATER HISTORY

50 years after Alexander Yannai, the Romans came to conquer the Land of Israel. The residents of the Golan, together with their fellow Jews in the other parts of the Land, began a rebellion against the invaders. The story of the siege on the Jewish city of Gamla in the Golan is well-known. Following the destruction of Jerusalem, Jewish life continued for many hundreds of years in the Golan, to which the names and places recorded in the Talmud bear witness: Rabi Elazar HaKapar, Uzi HaCohen, Yehuda Chazan, and others are eternalized in the remnants of tens of synagogues found throughout the Golan. Beautiful mosaics, from many synagogues of the Byzantine period, have also been located. Every visitor and resident to the Golan today is able to enjoy the restored synagogue in the city of Katzrin, not far from the multitude of Jewish findings on display in the museum there.

20 years before Herzl, a group of non-Jews came up with a plan for Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel. The scheme was initiated by Sir Laurence Oliphant, on behalf of the governments of Great Britain and France. In the year 1879, he chose the area of Gilead as the best place to start (!) Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel - teaching us that the people of his generation recognized that both banks of the Jordan were equally considered the Land of Israel.

The center of activities for the southern Golan communities today is Bnei Yehuda, named after a previously existing settlement started by the Jews of Safed in the 1880's - in the Golan! The first Bnei Yehuda stood for 37 years, and the Jews who settled it apparently saw no difference between their original hometown of Safed in the Galilee and the Golan area on the other side of the Jordan. They understood that the historic claim of the Jewish Nation to one side was the same as to the other. A 500-page volume entitled "The Longing for Jewish Settlement over the Jordan River," by Dr.Tzvi Eilan, explains this at length.

4. PUTTING THE FACTS ON THE TABLE

We have a Minister of Education named Zevulun Hammer. Isn't it possible to prepare a booklet containing all of the above facts, and more, for distribution among our school children? Even those who want to give the Golan over to the Syrians, must learn the facts! Why, then, does Zevulun Hammer's Ministry of Education not prepare such a pamphlet on the topic of the continuous Jewish settlement and the Jewish title to the Golan? And Minister of Transportation, Rabbi Yitzchak Levy - we did not vote him into the government so that he may deal only with transportation issues. Our two Religious-Zionist representatives in the Knesset - until when will their tongues cleave to their palates?

5. A PRECEDENT FOR RETURNING THE GOLAN (TO ISRAEL)

Let us openly declare: in the past, there have been Jewish leaders who have returned the Golan. Yes, King David returned the Golan to Israelite control, and King Alexander Yannai did the same; and thirty years ago, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol presided over the return of the Golan to Jewish hands.

"Ha-am im ha-Golan!" The people are with the Golan!

Mr. Shlomo Kor is the former vice-chairman of the executive council of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and has a weekly radio commentary on Arutz-7. Arutz-7 Educational Radio is a project of Bet-El Yeshiva Center Institutions.


 HOME  Maccabean  comments