Changing world opinion starts with Israel asserting it owns the land

While the vast majority of Israelis realize that land for peace did not work, it seems opportune that Israel changes the public narrative to help with world opinion.

By
December 16, 2015 21:30
Israeli flag

Israeli flag. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The European Union’s decision to specifically label Israeli products from the territory Israel won in the 1967 war is outrageous.

The reasons given by the EU for signaling out Israel for such labeling reeks of hypocrisy.

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First, it has never required other nations with territorial conflicts to provide such labeling.

A further argument made by Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the EU’s ambassador to Israel, is that Israel does not claim ownership of these areas. However, this is false. Israel has indeed laid legitimate claim to the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem (as an integral part of unified Jerusalem), and yet, the EU demands labeling for these areas as well. Israel is rightfully taking strong retaliatory action in response to the unacceptable actions of the EU.

Faaborg-Andersen’s comments about Israel’s failure to claim ownership of the land is telling. Certainly Israel needs to start changing this narrative immediately as it relates to Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank). To be clear, Israel does not need to annex Judea and Samaria in order to change the public discussion.

Understandably, one can own land and make a deal to give up ownership over part of the land. It is, however, obvious that one cannot make a good deal on the land if their ownership of the land is questioned or rejected.

Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union is a well-known advocate of a Palestinian Arab state, therefore dividing the land. Yet, she also straightforwardly states that she believes the land is Israel’s. However, the problem Israel has had since Oslo is giving credence to Palestinian-Arab claims to the land Israel won in 1967. In contrast, it is noteworthy that the Palestinian Authority does not similarly give credence to Israel’s claim to the land, and instead adamantly argues that Israel lacks claim to the land won.



The absurdity of the situation becomes apparent when one looks at the history of the land in dispute. East Jerusalem contains the site of the Jewish people’s first two Temples – the Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism. Known by all as the place that Jews face toward prayer from everywhere in the world, it is even in Jerusalem that Jews face towards the Temple Mount in prayer. Judea and Samaria includes the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, as well as Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.

These are historically connected to the Jewish people as recorded in purchases in the Bible as it relates to the Temple Mount, Cave of the Patriarchs and Joseph’s Tomb and the burial of Rachel is recorded in the Bible as well.

The recent PA extraordinary refusal to acknowledge these fundamentals of Judaism is blatant anti-Semitism.

They are denying basic tenets of Judaism by claiming that the Temple Mount has always been only Muslim, they initiated action with UNESCO that was approved claiming Rachel’s Tomb as a Muslim site and they claim only Muslim rights to the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Israel has a further significant claim to the land, as defined by recognized international law, given the undeniable fact that Israel won the land in a defensive war in 1967. The gains made by Israel’s legal preemptive strike against Egypt and Syria is challenged not by international jurists, but rather by Israel’s detractors. And one might add, that even if one questions the validity of such claims, Israel captured east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in a purely defensive war – after Jordan attacked western Jerusalem from eastern Jerusalem in 1967. We recall well that Israel had asked Jordan to stay out of the war. Jordan refused.

Jordan, it was revealed, had destroyed 58 synagogues in their occupation of Jerusalem prior to the war, and illegally prevented Jews from going to the Western Wall between 1949 and 1967.

And despite the dispute, one that has remained violent because of an unyielding war of terrorism launched and conducted by the Palestinians, Israel has received virtually no credit in international opinion for its withdrawal from land that included areas like Joseph’s Tomb. These concessions have achieved nothing but additional violence because the world already wrongfully views the territory as belonging to the Palestinians.

World opinion, never favorable to any Jewish claim, interprets the matter as such: if both parties believe the Palestinians have a right to the land and only one party believes Israel has a right to the land then they align themselves with the view of the Palestinian Authority.

A famous Talmudic decision clarifies the problem Israel currently faces. The rabbis rule that if one party claims full ownership of a tallith and the other party claims it is owned equally between them, then the rabbis rule that the tallith mainly goes (three-quarters) to the one claiming full ownership because both parties recognize that this party has valid ownership claims.

It is obvious today that the PA does not accept Israel’s claim even to the 1949 borders despite its alleged recognition in signing the Oslo accords.

The PA never even puts Israel on a map and their emblem includes the entire state of Israel as “Palestine.” However, since the PA allegedly recognized Israel’s 1949 borders in Oslo and Israel disputes any claim they make to 1949 Israel, the Palestinian Authority has not made progress in world opinion on their claim to all of Israel.

The time is ripe for Israel to alter its posture. While the vast majority of Israelis realize that land for peace did not work, it seems opportune that Israel changes the public narrative to help with world opinion.

Israel should make it clear that all of the land Israel won in 1967 is Israeli land and no one else has a legitimate claim to this land. If for any reason in the future Israel wants to make a deal and give up some of its land it can still do so, but with the understanding that it is giving up its rightful land rather than forfeiting land it does not properly possess. This strategy benefits both sides of the debate as it strengthens Israel’s claim to the land and at the same time it would benefit Israel far greater on the international stage if Israel gave up its land for any reason.

Maybe – just maybe – such a move will be the first step toward preventing further attacks on Israel, similar to that of the European Union.

The writer is president of the National Council of Young Israel.

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