TWO ARTICLES BY BORIS SHUSTEFF:
THE WRONG OPENING and
WHAT A SAFE PLACE IT WILL BE TO LIVE IN
"Israel is not a slave; he was not born into slavery. Why then do his enemies hunt
him down?...Israel, you brought this on yourself!...Your own evil will punish you, and your
turning from me will condemn you."...........(Jeremiah 2/14,17,19)
It is a well known truth that in order to solve a mathematical problem one must understand the conditions of the problem. If the conditions are misinterpreted the solution is unachievable. On the other hand, correctly interpreted conditions already constitute 80% of solution.
Today Israel reminds one of a chess player who has learned only one opening. The opponent, who wants to win, has changed the opening. Israel, naively, makes the moves that she has learned, very much surprised that the opponent is not playing the way that is common for this opening. Only when she is completely behind in development, has lost control over the central squares, and comes under devastating attack, she dares to ask, "Excuse me, I am playing the Peace defense; what opening are you playing?"
On October 7, 1997, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, just few days ago freed by the Israelis and dutifully kissed by Yasser Arafat, unequivocally answered this question, "Look, in the Islamic religion, we can make a cease-fire with our enemy.... the Islamic religion gives us the right to have a limited cease-fire, and did not give the right to have a cease-fire forever."
A Hamas leader from Gaza, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the same Rantisi who was honored by Arafat's embraces and kisses on August 20, 1997, during the famous meeting in Gaza, clarified Sheik's statement. On October 8,1997 in the interview with IMRA he said, "I feel that it is justice for us to do with Jews as they did with us...They killed thousands of Palestinians in tens of massacres and they destroyed homes. So I think it is just to do with them as they did with us."
The conditions of the problem are crystal clear. Arafat, Yassin, Rantisi and scores of other Arab leaders have declared their goal. To overcome Israel's Peace defense they have chosen the Jihad attack. They simply want to kill as many Jews as possible, to expel the remaining Jews from Eretz Israel and to build a Palestinian state. The boundaries of this state will incorporate all of Israel as the famous map, that hangs in Arafat's office indicates.
Here is the question to the problem. How can the Jewish state survive? To say that Israel will endure by offering parts of Judea and Samaria is more than naive. It is in 1967, exactly when these territories were under Jordanian control, that King Hussein urged the Arabs to kill the Jews "with your hands, with your nails and teeth." It is in 1964, when Israel's borders were "borders of Auschwitz," as Abba Eban characterized them, that the PLO Charter was written, with twenty-nine of its thirty-three articles explicitly or implicitly calling for the elimination of Israel.
Israel's desire for peace has reached a form of a maniacal obsession. Ignoring the obvious facts, Israeli leaders invented the "peace-loving Arab partners," and using the suicidal Oslo agreement like a magic wand have tried to change the essence of Islam and the Arabs' attitude towards the Jews. Although not a single hint exists that the Arabs are ready to accept the Jewish state, Israel tries to convince herself, that the Arabs want peace. This is why the Israelis do not listen to Arafat who is ready "to sacrifice the last boy and the last girl" and who calls to "continue this difficult Jihad ...via deaths, via sacrifices." This is why they do not listen to PA Mufti Sheik Ikrama Sabri who on May 18, 1997 stated during an interview with The New York Times that "the Jews ... are the greatest enemies of us Muslims." Instead, they believe the words of the American left-wing Jewish leader Dan Abrams, who, on October 8,1997, during a dinner that American president Bill Clinton hosted for Israeli president Ezer Weizman said, that "21 Arab nations want peace. Assad and Arafat want peace."
The fact that Arab words about peace mean nothing is well known to anyone even slightly familiar with Middle East history. In the book Interview with History Oriana Fallaci brilliantly exposed these "peace-lies." This is what she said about Jordanian King Hussein, "...what he told me about the Palestinians was one big lie. That day, he had shown himself so solid with them, so tolerant, so desirous of peace. He had chewed the word peace with the same wholeheartedness with which one masticates chewing gum. Five months later, instead, he was to unleash his Bedouins against the fedayeen and decimate them in a frightful bloodbath."
In the Middle East the word "peace" and peace itself have nothing in common. The four post-Oslo years have dramatically worsened Israel's situation. The word "peace" has completely lost its original meaning. It is enough to attach this word to any action, and the action immediately acquires complete legitimacy. The world community, using the whip of Peace, rides the Jewish state towards destruction. The tragedy is that Israel herself does not appear to object, as if completely believing in the inevitability of her own demise.
The overwhelming majority of Israeli politicians no longer questions the legitimacy of the term the "Palestinian people." The leaders from the "left" and from the "right" have accepted the pending creation of another state for the Palestinian Arabs; the only remaining issue is whether to allow it to be called a "state" or to use some euphemism. There are hundreds of plans that will allow the Palestinian Arabs to cement their foothold in Jerusalem. The most "progressive" politicians simply recommend getting rid of the Old City, since it is, in any case, full of religious Jews, who cannot appreciate the good things of modern life. It is already quietly accepted that, when the second Palestinian state is created, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees will be allowed to come to this state, and, moreover, the return of these "refugees" to the Israel proper is on the agenda too.
The described picture frighteningly resembles the situation that led to the annihilation of European Jewry. Back then, the Jews have accepted the yellow stars, deprivations of their rights, everyday humiliation, deportation to the concentration camps and inevitable death. They accepted their fate, not having the strength to fight. Only this acceptance by the Jews of the inevitability of the tragedy allowed the Catastrophe to reach such unimaginable proportions.
Today, when the Israeli Jews accept the blame for all the wrongs that have befallen the Palestinian Arabs, they make the same terrible mistake that the German Jews made by accepting the conditions of the Nuremberg laws, instead of rejecting them and following Jabotinski's appeal to leave Germany.
The other very dangerous parallel lies in the attitude of the world community towards Israel. When, in July, 1938, in French town of Evian, representatives of thirty-two countries convened hoping to find a solution to the Jewish refugee problem, Nazi Germany was invited as an observer(!). Therefore, the outcome of the conference was decided even before it began. No hope was offered in Evian to desperate Jews. No doors opened for them, although the writing was on the wall and, as the mainstream French Catholic newspaper La Croix wrote on July 14, 1938, "We cannot be partners to a solution of the Jewish question by means of their extinction, by means of the complete extermination of a whole people."
Then, in 1938, the world did not care about the Jews. Saul Friedlinder wrote in his book Nazi Germany and the Jews that Adolf Hitler, commenting on the results of the Evian conference, in the closing speech of the party rally, on September 12,1938, said:
"They complain in these democracies about the unfathomable cruelty that Germany...uses in trying to get rid of their Jews. ... But it does not mean that these democratic countries have now become ready to replace their hypocritical remarks with acts of help; on the contrary, they affirm with complete coolness that over there, there is no room! Thus, they expect that Germany with its 140 inhabitants per square kilometer will go on keeping its Jews without any problem, whereas the democratic world empires with only a few people per square kilometer can in no way take such a burden upon themselves."
Today, in 1997 the world does not care about Israel. If one were to look at the United Nations as the barometer of world opinion toward the Jewish state one becomes more than depressed. The recent General Assembly voting for an anti-Israeli resolution with over 150 countries supporting it and only 3 opposing it (including Israel) speaks for itself. This should not be surprising, as the General Assembly and its agencies are famous for their anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. It is just enough to recall that, as J. Becker mentioned in The PLO, "in July 1982 UNESCO passed a resolution demanding that the history related to the (Jewish) Bible be rewritten so that the Jews were left out of it."
It is time to face the truth. The Arab world is ready to fulfill its fifty-year old dream of annihilating the Jewish state. The world community will quietly watch and wait. The Israeli Jews have bought into the Arab's lies and have accepted the attitude of the man described by L. Banks in her book Letters to My Israeli Sons. "This man was against Israel although he was a Jew. When asked, 'Why,' he replied with a horrifying laugh, 'Well! All those people who hate the Jews can't be wrong. There must be something the matter with us. It's better for everyone concerned if we just disappear.'"
Yes, there must be something the matter with us if Dr. Nurit Elhanan-Peled mother of Smadar Elhanan, the 14 year old girl killed on September 4,1997 in the suicide bombing blames the Israeli government and not the terrorists for the death of her daughter. Yes, there must be something the matter with us if we are ready to forsake the millennia old dream of the Jews to be a free people in our own country.
Yes, there must be something the matter with us if we, the Jews, follow the Christian philosophy and turn the other cheek. The hypnosis of Oslo must be defeated. There is nothing sacred in this suicidal agreement. It is necessary to admit the mistake and correct it, despite the obvious difficulties and hypocritical condemnation from the world community.
Menachem Begin in The Revolt recalls words of one-armed Meir Feinstein --one of the greatest heroes of our generation. He said to the British judges:
"We were not spared in order to live in slavery and oppression and to await some new Treblinka. We were spared in order to ensure life and freedom and honor for ourselves, for our people, for our children and our children's children. We were spared in order that there should be no repetition of what happened."
Od lo avda tikvateinu -- our hope is not lost! [10/12/97]
"Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life."
(Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim )
The supporters of the "peace for land" polices defend their position of surrendering the territory, freed in 1967, by comparing the value of land with the value of human life. They say that if, Israel endangers the life of its citizens, by keeping the land of Judea and Samaria, the land has to be given away. The gruesome blunder of this position comes from a complete misunderstanding of the simple truth that the Jews and Eretz Israel are a single whole and, therefore, it is absolutely unacceptable to set the Jews against the Land. A glance through history immediately shows the devastation and withering that befall the Land when it became separated from the majority of its people. To the same extent history shows innumerable tragedies that befell the Jewish people unable to return to Eretz Israel. Avi Erlich wrote in the book, Ancient Zionism:
"Ancient Hebrews could feel the full force of the culture they had rooted into their Land, taking pleasure in the legal and literary traditions, the history and the historicism, the rituals and the rites that emerged from the Land and converged in monotheism. The culture of monotheism, through the intimately related idea of Zionism, became a national culture, inseparable from the Land. Exile was the worst of disasters. "
It is exactly because of this unique bond between the Jewish people and Eretz Israel that the Land had never became a national home for any other people. For thirteen centuries the Land was conquered again and again, not less than fourteen times. During the times of these conquests no independent state was ever established in the Land. Every time the Land was absorbed as an occupied territory and ruled from outside of its boundaries. With every new conquest the previous conquerors would turn into the slaves of the new conquerors. They did not have a common ethnic or cultural identity. The only common link that they shared was the choice either to accept Islam or to suffer as a "dhimmi".
Constant attempts of the Arab politicians and propagandists to establish a historical connection between the Land and Palestinian nationalism cannot change the reality. The truth was recently confirmed in Rashid Khalidi's 1997 book, Palestinian Identity . The credibility of the author who is a professor of history and who served as an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid conference in 1991, and participated in part of each of the ten Palestinian-Israeli bilateral negotiating sessions in Washington which continued until June 1993, is unquestionable. He writes the following:
"There is mainstream secular Palestinian nationalism, grouped together under the umbrella of the PLO and represented for the past three decades by a variety of its constituent organizations... . These groups, ...representing the views of a majority of Palestinians since some time in the mid- or late 1960s, emerge from a relatively recent tradition which argues that Palestinian nationalism has deep historical roots. ...Extreme advocates of this view go further than this, and anachronistically read back into the history of Palestine over the past few centuries, and even millennia, a nationalist consciences and identity that are in fact relatively modern. ... That identity was simply nonexistent a generation or two before, and was still novel and limited in its diffusion before World War I. ... Transformation of the sense of self of the Arab population of Palestine, which began during the years immediately before World War I and intensified immediately after it, resulted in the emergence of a Palestinian national identity where a few decades before no such thing had existed."
Khalidi's words knock the ground from under the feet of those who try to equate the millennia old ties of the Jews with Eretz Israel and the recently born craving for the Land of the Palestinian Arabs. Every day, during their two-thousand-year dispersion, when the Jews were saying "Next year in Jerusalem" they meant it. Every year, a stream of Jews was trickling in the direction of Eretz Israel. In this century it turned into a mighty river. As Abraham Joshua Heshel wrote in Israel: An Echo of Eternity, "For the Jews, and for them alone, this was the one and only Homeland, the only conceivable place where they could find liberation and independence, the land toward which their minds and hearts had been uplifted for a score of centuries and where their roots had clung in spite of all adversity."
How can somebody dare to compare this unshakable devotion of the Jews with the newly acquired consciousness of the Palestinian Arabs? Before equating the rights of the Jews with the rights of the Palestinian Arabs let them, the Arabs, spend twenty centuries in exile, and not twenty miles away, but thousands and thousands of miles away from the Land. Let them to go through two thousand years of persecutions, pogroms and massacres. Let us see whether for two millennia they will turn every day three times towards Jerusalem and will promise to return to her.
Khalidi writes in his book that the editor of a Jerusalem newspaper bitterly complained in 1912 that "there exists no Arabic-language text on the history of Palestine except translations of European texts." This fact clearly proves the unimportance of the Land to the Arabs before this century. On the other hand Eretz Israel gave birth to the greatest works of the Jewish people. It is here that the Bible, the Mishnah, the Palestinian Talmud, the Midrashim, the Shulhan Arukh were written. These books were inseparable from the Jews during their exile. Without these books, without their religion, the Jews, physically uprooted from the land, would have been unable to keep Eretz Israel in their memory.
The longing of the Jewish people towards their Land goes through every single day of the two thousand years of their exile. They never doubted that the day would come when they would return home. Pious Jews objected to making plans for the future, explaining that the Jews, being in exile, have no right to plan of the future, as the Messiah may suddenly arrive.
The Land was a magnet to the Jews. Every day somebody somewhere would leave his home, his family and friends and would wander from country to country in an attempt to reach Eretz Israel. The lives of these Jews were constantly in danger and they suffered from illnesses, persecutions and robbery. The lucky one who finally reached the Land, lived in poverty. They were able to survive only because of their inherent belief that "the merit of living in the land of Israel equals the merit of observing all the commandments of the Torah." It did not occur to them to question the value of Eretz Israel in comparison to the value of their lives, as their lives away from Eretz Israel were meaningless. They were dreaming of the Land about which the great prophet said, " You will no longer see any arrogant foreigners who speak a language that you can't understand. What a safe place it will be to live in! ...The Lord himself will be our king; he will rule over us and protect us. No one who lives in our land will ever again complain of being sick, and all sins will be forgiven."(Isaiah, 33).
What a safe place it will be to live in! It is a tragedy that the majority of the Jews who plunged into the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century paid no heed to the prophet's words. Who can say how many Jewish lives could have been saved if the Jews of Germany and Europe had followed the appeal of Moses Hess, when, in 1862, he urged in Rome and Jerusalem:
"Providence would not have prolonged your existence until today, had it not reserved for you the holiest of all missions. The hour has struck for the resettlement of the banks of the Jordan. ... The time has arrived ... to reclaim... your ancient fatherland. You have contributed enough to the cause of civilization... . You must think of yourselves, of the valleys of Lebanon and the plains of Gennesareth. March forward!... The ancient fatherland of yours is calling you..."
They did not march forward and the Jewish state was not restored in time to prevent the Holocaust. Six million vanished and the Land cried unable to help its sons and daughters.
When one of the Likud leaders, the Israeli Defense Minister, speaks with contempt about the ancient Jewish places calling them "ruins" and "piles of stones" that do not "deserve life of a single Israeli to be paid for them", he just shows a complete misunderstanding of the destiny of the Jewish people. He does not see the eternal link between the People and the Land. It is fitting to recall the words of Zeev Jabotinsky from his 1905 article Zionism and the Land of Israel:
"The true kernel of our national uniqueness is the pure product of the Land of Israel. We did not exist before we came to the Land of Israel. We grew up in the Land of Israel; on it we became citizens; we strengthen the belief in one G-d; we breathed in the winds of the land, and in our struggles for independence and sovereignty, its air enwrapped us and the grain that its land produced sustained us. In the Land of Israel the ideas of our prophets were developed and in the Land of Israel the "Song of Songs" was first heard. Everything Hebrew in our midst was given to us by the Land of Israel. Anything else is not Hebrew. Israel and the Land of Israel are one."
It is not an accident that the number of Israelis killed since the beginning of the suicidal Oslo process is much bigger than in any other comparable period in Israeli history. For the first time, since the Jews have reestablished their nationhood in Eretz Israel, there has been created a threat of a new separation between people of Israel and the Land of Israel. The betrayal of the Land by the People will lead to the rejection of the People by the Land. Only a strong state that affirms its presence in every corner of Eretz Israel will be able to survive. Only a state that incorporates Judea and Samaria will be viable. Only this Jewish state will be able to welcome the Jews who are still searching for their way home."What a safe place it will be to live in!" [10/26/97]
Boris Shusteff works as an engineer, he is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.