The announcement on Tuesday that a deal had been reached between the government
and the residents of Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood will hopefully bring a
peaceful end to an otherwise painful episode.
After months of wrangling,
the two sides reached an accommodation that will bring about the relocation of
the homes at the heart of the dispute along with additional building in other
parts of Beit El.
This entire affair, which threatened to resurrect old
wounds in Israeli society, was the opening salvo in a campaign by Israel’s Left
to force the government to demolish Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria that it
deems to be illegal. In the coming months, similar conflicts are likely to arise
over other Jewish outposts such as those at Givat Assaf and Migron, as the Left
seeks to turn back the clock and undermine Israel’s presence in the
But the ideologues on the Left are missing the point. The
battle over the future of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is over. To put
it simply: the Left has lost, and the Jewish people have won.
the following. According to an Interior Ministry census published at the start
of the year, there are an estimated 722,000 Jews currently living in the areas
that were liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. This includes over
300,000 who dwell in parts of eastern and northern Jerusalem that were taken
back from Jordan, another 340,000 who reside in Judea and Samaria, as well as
60,000 people who live and study at various educational institutions in the
The significance of this statistic is enormous. It means that
nearly one out of every 10 Israelis now lives beyond the so-called Green
That is more than the population of Tel Aviv and Haifa
Hence, in just 45 years, since the miraculous victory of the
Six Day War, the number of Jews living in Israel’s ancient heartland has gone
from zero to 700,000 and it is still growing at a hefty clip.
2011, the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria grew at a pace of 4.3 percent,
which is more than double the national average.
Needless to say, this
number is even more remarkable when one considers the inordinate number of
political, diplomatic and bureaucratic obstacles that have stood in the way of
restoring the Jewish presence in the territories.
NOWHERE ELSE in the
world is so much attention paid to the pouring of concrete or the approval of
Whenever someone in Itamar or Kiryat Arba decides to enclose
a porch or redo the kitchen, it inexplicably threatens to become an
international incident, eliciting the most irrational of responses from the
plenary of the United Nations to the halls of the US State
And Israel’s vaunted bureaucracy certainly does not make
things any easier for our brethren in Judea and Samaria, who often have to
obtain a dizzying array of permits to build their homes.
But despite it
all, the Green Line is dead and buried, and the Left can kiss it goodbye. It is
no longer of any relevance, politically or otherwise.
Jewish life in
Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem is growing and flourishing, and there is no
human power on earth that is going to uproot or move hundreds of thousands of
Jews from places such as Ariel, Tekoa or Hebron.
EVEN IN the battle for
Israeli public opinion, the Left’s failure has been colossal. Last week, the
results of an annual survey measuring the Israeli public’s views of the
settlement enterprise were released. They undoubtedly led to a great deal of
hand-wringing and nervous sweating in the offices of Peace Now.
survey, which was conducted by Dr. Miriam Billig and Dr. Udi Lebel of the Ariel
University Center, found that a whopping 64% of Israelis support Jewish
settlement of Judea and Samaria. A similar percentage said that settling the
territories is a “truly Zionist deed,” and 57% said they view Judea and Samaria
as Israel’s security belt.
So despite years of demonization and
delegitimization by the Left, the Jewish settlement initiative still commands
profound respect and widespread support.
And notwithstanding the media’s
predilection to depict all Jewish settlers as bearded, gun-toting men with
soup-bowl size yarmulkes on their heads patrolling barren hilltops, anyone who
has visited Judea and Samaria knows better.
The population is as diverse
as it is large, and it encompasses a broad array of people from a variety of
religious, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. There are secular farmers,
observant hi-tech executives, female yoga instructors and Russian immigrant
physicists. Some have chosen Judea and Samaria for ideological or religious
reasons, while others have done so for convenience and quality of
But whatever the motive, the repopulation of Judea and Samaria with
Jews represents a remarkable triumph of the human spirit, and a validation of
the pioneering ethos upon which this country was founded.
There are to be
sure many challenges that still lie ahead, as pressure will continue to mount on
Israel to draw boundaries and accede to some form of partial territorial
retreat. The Palestinians and their allies will surely continue to insist on
statehood and the expulsion of Jews.
But the Jewish people have withstood
far greater threats in the past.
We have overcome diplomatic disapproval,
international hostility, and unjustified opprobrium to reclaim the land that is
ours by history and by right.
When Jeremiah (31:4) foretold that “you
will yet plant vineyards in Samaria,” and that the sounds of rejoicing would
again be heard in the cities of Judea (33:10-11), he knew of what he
With G-d’s help, recent years have shown that Jews are returning
to Judea, Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem in increasing numbers. So to our
critics and foes I have one small piece of friendly advice: you had better get
used to it, because the Jewish people are here to stay.
The writer is
chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org) which assists lost tribes and hidden
Jewish communities to return to the Jewish people.