JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN YESHA
By Bernard J. Shapiro
I plan to discuss the Right of the Jewish People to Eretz Yisrael including Judea, Samaria and GazaYesha for short. I also will discuss the strategic importance of Yesha and how the Jewish communities there contribute to Israel's security, prevent the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state next door and fulfil Biblical commandments.
And it came to pass, That day the L-RD made a covenant with Abraham saying:
"UNTO THY SEED HAVE I GIVEN THIS LAND IN PERPETUITY ."
DAVID BEN GURION, founding father and first Prime Minister of Israel, had this to say about territorial concessions:
"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."[Zionist Conference, Basle, Switzerland, 1937]
THE JEWISH RIGHT TO ERETZ YISRAEL was expressed in a letter from the Jewish leader Simon, the only survivor of the five Maccabee brothers to king Antiochus, whom they had just defeated. Antiochus demanded the return of the 'occupied territories' -- that is territories the Maccabees liberated during their recent war.
Simon writes: "We have neither taken foreign land nor seized foreign property, but only the inheritance of our fathers, which at one time had been unjustly taken by our enemies. Now that we have the opportunity, we are firmly holding the inheritance of our fathers."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his book A PLACE AMONG THE NATIONS writes the following when told that Judea and Samaria are foreign "occupied" lands:
"This land, where every swing of a spade unearths remnants of the Jewish past and where every village carries the barely altered Hebrew names of old; this land, in which the Jews became a nation and over which they shed more tears than have been shed by any other people in history; this land, the loss of which resulted in an exile of the Jews such as has been suffered by no other people and the spilling of a sea of blood such as has been spilled by no other nation; this land, which never ceased to live as a distant but tangible home in the minds of Jewish children from Toledo in medieval Spain to the Warsaw ghetto in our own century; this land, for which the Jews fought with unsurpassed courage and tenacity in ancient as in modern times -- this is the "foreign land" that world leaders now demand be barred to Jews and that Israel (should) unilaterally forsake."
The answer to such absurd demands must be a resounding NO!
The modern Jewish return to Eretz Yisrael began in 1882. Between 1882 and 1914 there were dozens of Jewish "settlements" ( I prefer the term Jewish communities both then and now). Some of the more important ones were Tel Aviv, Hadera, and Rischon Letzion,Hayelet Hashacher, Rosh Pina, Metula, Kfar Saba and Petah Tikva. Between 1921 and 1925 Jews settled throughout the Jezereel Valley. In fact, the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael was the raison etre of the Zionist Movement and a commandment to Jews everywhere to return to Zion. This process continues today 120 years after it began.
Unfortunately, Jews throughout history have deluded themselves about their position in society. They pursue utopian solutions (like Oslo) to complex political problems and disputes. Jews rejoiced as the enlightenment spread across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many were eager to give up their Jewishness and become German, French, Italian, and English. In the final analysis those societies viewed them as Jews. Self-delusion came into collision with reality and left us with the stench of burning flesh in the ovens of Auschwitz. Many Russian Jews eagerly supported the communist idea of a worker's utopia with no nationalities and no religion. Reality taught them that their neighbors still considered them Jews.
The left-wing in Israel believes in a common humanity of shared values with the Arabs. In the face of all empirical evidence to the contrary they 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 1967 I traveled to Israel a few days after the Western Wall fell into Israeli hands. As I placed my hands on this magnificent relic of our forefathers, I felt a surge of light and energy the likes of which I had never known. In what had to have been but the flash of a second, I felt at one with Jews from all periods of history. At the Passover Seder we are told to thank G-d for delivering us from Egypt as though we ourselves had been brought out of bondage. At that moment in Jerusalem, this Seder message was very real for me.
In an instant I saw the continuity of Jewish history and its unbreakable connection with Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel). I understood how modern Israel is the beginning of the Third Temple Period and the spiritual heir to Joshua, Saul, David, Solomon, the Maccabees and Bar Kokhba. I frequently write about the security reasons for incorporating Judea, Samaria, and Gaza into the body of Israel. There is another side to this issue and that is the spiritual-religious side. The truth, which many find inconvenient, is that the Land of Israel was promised by G-d to Abraham and his seed in perpetuity. The Land of Israel is not speculative real estate to be bartered away for some high sounding (but false) promises of peace. The hills and valleys of Judea and Samaria contain the collective memory of the Jewish people. It was here that the Israelites first entered the Holy Land. And it was here they fought the battles, built the towns, elected their kings and were preached to by their prophets and judges. And it was on this soil that they wrote the Holy Scriptures we call our Bible.
In my blinding flash of insight at the Wall, I also understood that Israel on its own soil was more powerful than the sum of its weapons and men. Jews who had wandered the earth powerless for two millenniums attained great power when re-united with the soil of Israel. Anyone who has followed the Arab-Israeli conflict must be aware of the rising cost paid for Jewish blood. Before Israel was established, nations of the world took Jewish lives with impunity. Today, Arabs have discovered that the iron fist of Zahal (Israel Defense Forces) exacts a high price for even one Jewish life. Unfortunately, following the signing of the Oslo Agreements, Jewish blood has become cheaper.
One thing is clear to me: the L-rd has blessed Israel by re-uniting Jerusalem and bringing Judea, Samaria, and Gaza back under its control. It would be a horrendous sin against G-d and common sense for Israel to renounce this inheritance to which it is entitled. Israel holds these lands as a sacred trust for the Jewish people in perpetuity.
It would not only be sinful, but also criminal, to abuse that trust by denying future generations of Jews their Holy Land -- Land of their Fathers; the one tiny spot on planet earth given to them by G-d.
A LETTER FROM SHILOH, by Yisrael Medad
"The faith of these "settlers" who should properly be termed "revenants," people who have returned to a place after a long absence", their commitment and their determination, are intangibles that some Diaspora Jews still find difficult to grasp. To some Diaspora Jews, especially those who have traditionally championed a more liberal or leftwing approach to Zionism, the Oslo process is still strong after nine years of abject failure. For them, it seems, my community is an impediment to fulfillment of the Oslo vision of two states, one Jewish, the other devoid of Jewish communities.
To those who still champion the Oslo process, peace requires that Jews be banned from the heart of the Jewish people's historic homeland, Judea and Samaria, as they were for 19 years after Israel's 1948 War of Independence. To them, the quarter-million Jews who reside there are always "the settlers." Their communities constitute "human rights violations," they are an "illegal occupation" and must be dismantled for their vision of peace to be fulfilled.
My home in Shiloh was never occupied, to use a phrase too liberally applied, by Arabs, though there are Arab villages nearby. Calling Shiloh a "settlement" implies something foreign, intrusive and temporary, something that is purposefully and maliciously imposed. To us, however, "settling" is the most natural thing for a Jew to do: to reside where his forefathers dwelled, where his kings ruled and his prophets spoke.
No, we are not violators of justice and international law. If there is any substance to the charges of ethnic cleansing and human rights violations so frequently tossed about, it relates to what the Arab leadership and its supporters have done and continue to do. We have done our best to avoid hindering Arabs as they continue to live here and in Israel, and have founded our communities almost exclusively on unused and unpopulated hilltops. Arab terrorists and their supporters justify killing our children and women just because we live here. "
The letter ends.
As I stand before you tonight, I must emphatically declare that the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is NO different from ethnic cleansing anywhere in the world.
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 BOMBS,GUNS AND KNIVES TO KILL JEWS OR THROW ROCKS TO CRUSH JEWISH SKULLS, MUST BE DESTROYED. 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 or even hundreds of years -- 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 Czechoslovakia before WWII in the pursuit of a phantom illusory peace will only lead to disaster.
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."
Midge Decter writes"For there is no such thing as making peace. Nations who are friendly do not need to do so, and nations or people who are hostile cannot do so. To cry peace, peace when there is no peace, the prophet Jeremiah taught us long a go, is not the expression of hope, not even superstition but a reckless toying with the minds and hearts of people whose very future depends on their capacity to rise every day to the harsh morning light of the truth."
The glorious Hebrew Warriors who defeated five Arab armies in 1948, three in 1967, and two in 1973 must not surrender their Jewish homeland to an evil terrorist, who delights in killing Jewish babies. The Brave Heroes of Zion must not limit themselves to fruitless negotiations. At this great time of trial and apocalyptic threat, the safeguarding of the future of the Jewish people's right to Eretz Yisrael must take precedence.
SERIOUS FLAWS IN THE OSLO AGREEMENT AND SERIOUS REASONS TO MAINTAIN JEWISH SETTLEMENT AND CONTROL IN JUDEA, SAMARIA AND GAZA
(1) The most fundamental flaw is the renunciation of Jewish claims to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is God-given and cannot be renounced by a transitory Israeli government. The present government has no right to deprive future generations of Jews and Israelis of their legal patrimony.
(2) Yasir Arafat's PLO is incapable of providing Israelis with the cessation of violence they so dearly crave. There are ten rejectionist PLO factions plus Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist factions, including Arafat's own terrorists gangs, that will continue to kill Jews.
(3) Without the presence of Israel's internal security force (Shin Bet) inside Judea, Samaria and Gaza, it will be impossible to halt terrorism or even keep it within present levels. The Israel Defense Forces maintain tremendous power but are of little importance in day-to-day terrorism, unless they are able to project their power into Yesha as Sharon has done.
(4) Arafat's signature on the agreement and the PLO acceptance is of no consequence as Arafat is a documented liar. Muslims are permitted to lie to to non-Muslims and break agreements with them under the Koranic law of HUDAIBIYA. Treaties and contracts with them are worthless.
(5) By virtue of this agreement, the Israeli government has validated Arab claims to the Land of Israel. Decades of fighting Arab propaganda and distortions of history are trivialized and discounted.
(6.) This agreement puts the status of Jerusalem on the negotiating table as a final status issue. Every previous government of Israel steadfastly stood by the principle of Jerusalem being non-negotiable.
(7) All of Israel's military and civilian communications could be easily monitored from the hills of Judea and Samaria. The quick mobilization of the IDF could be rendered impossible by Palestinian attacks.
(8) Israel would lose control of the Judean-Samarian mountain ridge which protects it from attack from the east. The steep slope from the Jordan River to the crest of the rige is difficult to travers and can be blocked by a relatively small force of the IDF Should a Palestine State arise the Arab population will force the Israelis out.
(9) Whether they admit it publicly or not, Israeli leaders know that this is the first step to a Palestinian state.
(10) The "Palestinian right of return" has been acknowledged for the first time by the Israelis and could result in a flood of Arabs to Judea and Samaria.
(11) The inevitable increase in Arab population will result in tremendous pressure on Israel's water supply. As Arab wells are dug in the Judean and Samarian hills, the natural mountain aquifer that supplies much of Tel Aviv and the coastal plain with water will be serious depleted. Such depletion will cause the salt water of the Mediterranean Sea to penetrate Israel's coastal strip, thus destroying all water supplies. This process can be witnessed in California, where sea water has already penetrated five miles into the coast.
(12) Some 70% of Israel's population and industry is concentrated in a small strip of coast and greater Tel Aviv. That population will be immediately threatened by morters and Kaytusha rockets. Fired singly from the hills of Judea and Samaria, and set with timers they will be virtually impossible to stop. The Israeli government plan to coordinate with the Palestinian police is akin to working with the fox to guard the henhouse. The Palestinian police are being recruited from among the terrorists who delight especially in murder and mutilation of Jewish bodies. Will they arrest and turn over a terrorist who kills Israelis and then escapes to Gaza?
(13) The Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza will no doubt be victims of ethnic cleansing. The Arabs will insist on a Jew-free country like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.
(14) The air and seaports planned for Gaza will facilitate the entry of weapons and terrorists, threatening the security of Israel. The air space above Israel including Ben Gurion Airport would easily threatened. A Palestinian State could NOT be demilitarized. Look at the PA today.
(15) The proposed "safe passages" for the PA will facilitate the movement of terrorists and weapons from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.
(16) HITLER AND THE ARABS
"Hitler, Goebbels and Goering were pathological and pragmatic liars. Arafat also lied at Oslo as he fully intended to carry out his staged plan of 1974. Under this plan he would accept any part of Palestine until he could conquer the remainder. The Nazis lied so convincingly and so hugely that most statesmen from other countries could not believe that what they were hearing was a lie... One of Hitler's biggest lies was constantly to assure the world of peaceful intentions while obviously planning war. Arafat has done the same.
The only reason that the Arabs have not yet done to the Israeli Jews what Hitler did to their forefathers in Europe is that they have thus far lacked the military means and weapons of mass destruction which were at Hitler's disposal, to do so.
That the Arabs have not done so to date has not been due to any reluctance on their part, but because, this time, there has been this difference: The Jews in Europe had no army to defend them. Thank G-d, the Jews in Israel have!
May Israel be wiser in relation to this death wish of her neighbours, than the Jews in Europe were. They belittled the writings and speeches of Hitler and the Nazis and were massacred as a result. May it not happen again with Arafat!
I am sorry that I can not offer you more encouraging words. What I present is:
A HARSH REALITY
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 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. Beyond the neighboring states that Israel is negotiating with now lies another ring of unmitigated hostility led by Islamic fundamentalists like those 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).