Hevron First, Oslo Second

By Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

IN THIS ARTICLE:
1. Supremacy of Torah vs. International Accords
2. The Hevron Pogrom and the Restoration of the Jewish Community
3. Individual Rights But Not Sovereignty
4. Hevron, The Land of our Forefathers

1. Supremacy of Torah vs. International Accords

Today we will discuss Hevron. It is an established point in Jewish law that anything conditioned on a violation of the Torah is null and void. Any agreement that contradicts the Torah is not binding. And thus, according to the Torah, the Oslo agreement is invalid.

Nevertheless, international accords must be honored. There is even an element of sanctifying the Holy Name in the process. One can definitely find historical evidence for this view. But an agreement that contradicts the Torah is not an agreement. We had already declared [before the elections] that we are not bound by such an agreement, and that when a new government would be formed, it also would not be bound. Therefore, there is no prohibition against annulment of them. There is no deceit involved, or anything similar. All the cards were on the table.

2. The Hevron Pogrom and the Restoration of the Jewish Community

This principle applies to every spot in the Land of Israel; how much more so in the City of the Patriarchs, Hevron. There have been Jewish communities there for generations, including our own era. In the 1929 riots, the Arab population was whipped into a depraved frenzy. They descended upon the Hevron Jewish community, slaughtering men, women, and children in the most barbaric manner. The Jewish community of Hevron was wiped out.

Do the Arabs deserve a prize for this carnage? Quite the contrary. More than anywhere else, the Jewish community in Hevron must be strengthened, the city restored to its prior splendor. Discussion should center on ways to boost the Jewish presence, producing a continuous band of Jewish settlement from Kiryat Arba to Tel Romeida, including all the formerly Jewish homes. This is the national mission of the present government.

3. Individual Rights But Not Sovereignty

In the framework of seeking peace with our neighbors, it is possible to allow Gentiles living in Israel to have a measure of self-rule in municipal affairs. We have no reason to interfere in the management of their health, sanitation, education, and employment. But the Holy Land belongs to us, and it cannot be confiscated from us. Even the government of Israel does not have the authority to confiscate parts of the land of our forefathers, a land bestowed upon us by the God of Israel as an eternal heritage.

I believe that this view is shared by a large portion of the people. We should be constantly reminding ourselves and others of this fact. Every attempt to circumvent this reality is doomed to failure. It is impossible to solve the conflict between us and our Gentile neighbors without maintaining our basic principles--principles that we did not create, and lack the authority to dissolve. They are absolute divine principles. The Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel. We were exiled against our will from the Land of Israel, and never reneged. It is ours. Now, we have returned--not in order to give it away, but rather to repossess its entire area, according to the Torah-based borders of bygone days, and according to the Torah's promises for the future.

4. Hevron, The Land of our Forefathers

It may be quite difficult and impractical to impose our rule on parts of the land not yet in our possession. But we certainly have no right to give away parts that we already have, handing them over to foreigners. It is not security considerations that are delaying the transfer of Hevron to the Gentiles; the entire agreement is null and void, nonexistent and invalid, like the dust of the earth. This land is an inheritance from our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Shalom. Shalom.

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Rabbi Melamed is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Arutz Sheva, and Rosh Yeshiva (Dean) of the Bet-El Yeshiva Center.

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