A Roman legionaire stands on a hill overlooking Jerusalem. He watches the city burn and proclaims proudly, "Judea capta est" Judea is destroyed. It will never rise again. Rome's rulers even decreed a change of name for Judea. Henceforth it would be named after the Philistines (or Palestine) and the Jewish connection would be obliterated forever.
Yet, like the legendary Phoenix, rising from the ashes of its own destruction, the new nation of Israel burst onto the international scene in 1948, with the lusty cry of a newborn infant, yearning to breathe free. Five Arab armies rushed to invade Israel and crush the life from the new Jewish State. With unbelievable bravery and heroism the new state survived. Six thousand of its young defenders gave their lives that Israel might live.
In blood and fire was Israel born, and on a hot anvil was she forged. Her youth understood that life in the new Jewish homeland would require sacrifice. With stories of burning flesh from the ovens of Auschwitz embedded deep in their psyches, the young Israeli soldiers fought with the firm conviction that there was "no alternative" (ein brera).
1. Pre-state: Arab attacks on existing Jewish communities and Jewish resistance -- 1921, 1929, 1936-9, 1947.
2. War of Independence (First Arab-Israeli War) 1948-9 -- Israel victorious but at the cost of 6000 killed.
3. Fedeyeen attacks -- 1949-56 & Israeli reprisals
4. Sinai Campaign -- 1956
5. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) formed and modern terrorist war begins against Israel -- 1964 (three years before so-called "occupied territories").
6. Six Day War -- 1967
7. War of Attrition at the Suez Canal -- 1969-70
8. Yom Kippur War -- 1973
9. International terrorism e.g. Entebbe -- 1976
10. Lebanese wars -- 1978 and Operation Peace For Galilee -- 1982
11. PLO/Hamas Intifada -- 1987-to present
12. Iraqi SCUD Attacks -- 1991
13. PLO/Labor/Meretz Peace Offensive -- 1992 - War by Appeasement and Deception
Our history unfortunately is filled with sad and traumatic episodes. In 1968, I bought a book entitled THE WAR AGAINST THE JEW by Dagobert Runes. This book documents the Christian persecution of the Jew throughout history. I mention this now, not to cast aspersions on modern day Christians, but to illustrate the nature and severity of the Jew's war for survival through the years . Runes writes: "No group or nation or alliance of nations in all known history has ever perpetuated on a hapless minority such sadistic atrocities over so long a time as the Christians have on the Jews. What the Germans did to six million Jews in the the Second World War is only a continuation of long-established Christian bestiality toward the Jewish people, practiced by European Christians and especially the Catholic Church EVERY DECADE OF EVERY CENTURY FOR THE LAST TWO THOUSAND YEARS." Thankfully most modern Christians have accepted the Jews and many are strong supporters of Israel. .
As we struggle against the Arab and Moslem world we find that a close connection exists between an old enemy, the Nazis, and our new enemy, the Arabs. Nazi anti-Semitic literature found wide acceptance in the Arab world before and after WWII. Haj Amin el-Husseini, the leader of the Palestine Arabs and Mufti of Jerusalem spent most of the War years in Berlin. He met with Hitler, Himmler and Eichmann and toured the gas chambers. He was so enthusiatic about the "final solution" that he lobbied Hitler personally to rid the Middle East of Jews after the war. Husseini suggested two death camps complete with gas chambers and crematoria: one near Haifa and the other near Tel Aviv, to carry out the "final solution" in Palestine. Husseini, also working for Hitler, organized the Bosnian Moslems into death squads which killed tens of thousands of Balkan Jews in the most brutal fashion possible, the details of which would sicken any audience.
The answer is YES -- But only after mindboggling changes in the Arab world. True peace can only be made after the Arab world undergoes democratization. Simply put, democracies rarely go to war with one another. All our major wars of the last two hundred years have been between dictators or between democracies defending themselves from dictators. When a ruler is elected by the people, he has a natural restraint preventing him from sending their sons and daughters into combat in an aggressive war. No such restraint exists anywhere in the Arab world.
The second major change required of the Arab/Moslem world is to create secular states not subservient to the rule of Islam. The problem for Israel with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism is the very hostile attitude that Islam has toward Jews and any non-Islamic person. Islam is all encompassing and guides behavior, law, religion and attitudes and relations with non-Moslems. Islam perceives the world as two separate parts:
1.The first is Dar el-Islam or the World of Islam
2. All the rest is Dar el-Harb or the world of the sword or the world of war -- that is those non-Muslim nations that have yet to be conquered.
The concept of JIHAD or Holy War has been understood by most of us but there is another concept in the Koran with which few of us are familiar. But it is essential to understand this concept when relating to Moslems. That is the law of HUDAIBIYA which dates back to Muhammad and states clearly that "Muslims are permitted to lie and break agreements with non-Muslims." This applies to business, personal life and politics. Would a peace treaty be worth much if the other party is Moslem?
Islam divides the world between Believers and Infidels. Jews and Christians are relegated to the status of Dhimmis or second class citizens. The Koran clearly calls on Moslems to degrade and humiliate both groups.
The Arab/Moslem world will have to develop a tradition of respect for women, minorities, and human rights in general before they will be ready for peace with Israel. It seems a bit odd that our State Department is pushing democracy and human rights from one end of the globe to the other -- WITH THE REMARKABLE EXCEPTION OF THE MIDDLE EAST. Why are the Arabs insulated from pressure to democratize their societies?
It is obvious that no peace agreement would be worth anything with people believing in the above Islamic tenets, failing to practice democracy or show respect for minorities and human rights.
Israel's left-wing government headed by Yitzhak Rabin is engaged in a dangerous and ultimately fruitless effort to achieve peace with the Arabs through territorial concessions. A quick look at the map shows that the Arab world contains over 6 million square miles as against Israel's 10,840 -- or roughly 547 times as great as Israel. Only a fool would believe that the way to peace in the Middle East is to give the Arabs more land. A look at history shows that the Arabs have tried to destroy Israel both before and after the 1967 war in which Israel acquired the land giving it the secure borders it has now.
A quick reading of Arab statements on Israel reveals that their determination to destroy the Jewish state has not changed one iota. It was not by accident that the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in 1964, three years before Israel controlled Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Its National Covenant, its maps, its emblems, its stationery -- all call for the liberation of Palestine from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.
The left-wing Jews in this country and in Israel, personified by the Peace Now movement and the Meretz Party, have given the Arabs a wonderful opportunity. Unable to conquer Israel by military means, they have succeeded in splitting Jewish ranks and spreading their propaganda about "peace in our time." The Arab victory plan is simply this: Seduce Israel into believing that peace is possible and get her to voluntarily give up its strategic territories in the Golan, Judea and Samaria. Once Israel's borders are narrow and vulnerable, terrorists raids and katyusha rockets will be used to terrorize the population.
Arab control of the Golan, and the mountains of Judea and Samaria will allow them to cut off approximately 60% of Israel's water. Their positions on the high ground will allow them to eavesdrop and interfere with all Israeli telecommunications and radar. Large Arab standing armies can threaten to invade, causing Israel to mobilize its troops constantly -- inflicting severe damage on its economy. Within years the Russian immigrants will stop coming to Israel because of the poor conditions. Native Israelis will become demoralized and begin emigrating in droves.
Finally the Arabs will launch a surprise attack. Israel, lacking the buffer of the Golan and the mountains of Judea and Samaria, will be overrun. Most Jews will be killed, but some will escape thanks to American rescue ships. The US congress will pass a resolution condemning the Arab attack and President Clinton will say Kadesh for Israel at a Washington synagogue. The UN will promptly condemn Israel for polluting the soil of Palestine with Jewish blood.
Just like Hitler, who told the world of his ultimate aims in his book, Mein Kampf, the Arabs are not shy about telling us of their ultimate plans. The Islamic fundamentalists, like the Hamas movement or Islamic Jihad, want to destroy Israel in one stage. PLO has adopted a two-stage plan for Israel's destruction: first, get control of Judea and Samaria and second liberate the rest of Israel. Does this make the PLO "moderate?" Should we be negotiating our own demise with them?
Here is what the Palestinians say in their own words to their own people:
"I want to release a part of this Arab territory, and this cannot be done by war...Afterwards we would liberate the rest," Nabil Sha'at, Arafats's chief advisor in 1989.
Do you see his understanding of the need for a peace offensive with the aid of left-wing Jews and the US to force Israel's initial withdrawal?
Sha'at says later in 1989,
"If we achieve part of our territory, we will not relinquish our dream to establish one....state on all of Palestine."
PLO leader Abu Iyad says in 1988,
"The Palestinian state would be a skipboard from which we would be able to release Jaffa, Acre and all Palestine."
Later that same year Iyad says,
"The establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the Wes t Bank and in the Gaza Strip does not contradict our ultimate strategic aim, which is the establishment of a democratic state in the whole territory of Palestine, but rather is a step in that direction."
Yassir Arafat put it best when he said,
"The victory march will continue until the Palestinian flag flies in Jerusalem and in all of Palestine--from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat."
Faisel Husseini, leader of the PLO and head of the negotiating team with Israel in Washington, is the nephew of Haj Amin Husseini the Mufti, mentioned earlier. Both he and Arafat consider the activities of the Mufti during WWII as heroic and in the best Arab tradition. And both claim all of Israel as their country -- in their National Covenant, on their stationery, emblems and symbols.
Benjamin Netanyahu in his new book A PLACE AMONG THE NATIONS, a wonderful book you all should read, writes about the peace of deterrence. That is: the peace resulting from Israeli strength both in its army and in strategic territory. He says, and I agree that we must dig in our heels and remain steadfast, patiently waiting for our neighbors to accept and respect us on our present borders. Peace treaties reflect strategic realities. If Israel is weak, no treaty will protect it. He tells the sad story of how Czechoslovokia was forced to give up the strategic territory of the Sudetenland for "peace in our time" by Chamberlain at Munich in 1938. Netanyahu warns that the drive by the Labor Party to give up the Golan, Judea, Samaria and Gaza will have similar catastrophic results.
But you ask, what are we to do with the Arabs who live in those areas, who are clearly unhappy with Israeli rule? I believe they should have control over their municipal affairs but not over the land of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Labor Party seems to be in a mad rush to give up Jewish claims to this part of Eretz Yisrael. Rabin's Labor Party should pay attention to the words of its founder and father of modern Israel, David Ben Gurion, who said, "No Jew has the right to relinquish the right of the Jewish people over the whole Land of Israel. No Jewish body has such authority, not even the whole Jewish people has the authority to waive the right (to the Land of Israel) for future generations for all time."
The Arabs who wish to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors are welcome. They can even manage their own civil and municipal affairs.
THOSE, HOWEVER, WHO WISH TO TAKE UP THEIR GUNS AND KNIVES TO KILL JEWS OR THROW ROCKS TO CRUSH JEWISH SKULLS, MUST BE DESTROYED OR DRIVEN FROM THE LAND OF ISRAEL. Rabbinical authorities have long recognized the ultimate religious priority of saving Jewish lives. For example, the Israeli army is permitted to operate fully on Shabbat because it is necessary to save Jewish lives.
Too many Jews are obsessed with what will satisfy the Arabs. I doubt if there is a single Palestinian or Moslem anywhere that worries about what is good for Israel or the Jewish People. We must remember the words of Hillel when he said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am for myself alone, what am I?" Hillel's message is clear: First take care of yourself, your family and your people and then try to help others.
Remember it took the Christian world two thousand years to accept us as human beings, and this only after the mass murder of a third of our people. It may take the Arabs a while, maybe decades -- but we have no choice but to be patient. The fact that we want peace badly does not mean that it is attainable. To strip Israel of strategic territory like Czechoslovokia before WWII in the pursuit of a phantom illusory peace will only lead to disaster.
Some Jews in the face of all empirical evidence to the contrary believe peace is possible. In the book Self Portrait Of A Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu (1963-1976), Jonathan Netanyahu, the fallen hero of Entebbe and brother of Benjamin, said it best:
"I see with sorrow and great anger how a part of the people still clings to hopes of reaching a peaceful settlement with the Arabs. Common sense tells them, too, that the Arabs haven't abandoned their basic aim of destroying the State; but the self-delusion and self-deception that have always plagued the Jews are at work again. It's our great misfortune. They want to believe, so they believe. They want not to see, so they shut their eyes. They want not to learn from thousands of years of history, so they distort it. They want to bring about a sacrifice, and they do indeed. It would be comic, if it wasn't so tragic. What a saddening and irritating lot this Jewish people is!"
In our Holy Scriptures we read about the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah, who anguished over the fact that his people believed in false prophets of peace and didn't see the dangers facing Israel, cries out in despair, "Peace, peace but there is no peace."
We all want peace. We pray for peace in our Sabbath services every Friday night. After thousands of years, being victims of persecution, expulsion, extermination, and discrimination, it is natural that we yearn for peace with every ounce of our bodies and souls.
It is because our hunger for peace is so strong that we must be doubly cautious not to fall for a psuedo-peace that is really the wolf of war wrapped in sheep's clothing. Today none of us believe Chamberlain really negotiated "peace in our time" with Hitler. (Why do some Jews believe that Peres and Rabin really negotiated PEACE with Arafat, one of today's Hitlers?)
Israelis my age have fought and died in four wars and I understand their desire to be free of constant conflict. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure. I wish I could write more optimistic words. Sadly, beyond the neighboring states that Israel is negotiating with now lies another ring of unmitigated hostility led by Islamic fundamentalists in Iran.
As Jews we are all involved in this historic struggle to survive. It is not our fate or that of the Israelis that we should retire from this struggle. The only peace the Arabs are prepared to give us is the peace of the grave.
In blood and fire was Israel born and on a hot anvil was she forged. The brave young soldiers of Israel must take a quick glance back to the crematoria of Auschwitz and then go forth to face the enemy knowing that there is STILL no alternative (ein briera).
[This article was a lecture by Bernard J. Shapiro as part of the Torah Learning College, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Houston, June 23, 1993.]