soldier praying at Western Wall 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
When I was a boy, I was terribly jealous of the underground Etzel and Lehi
fighters who fought to oust the British, and of the IDF soldiers who were
personally involved in the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. By the time
I was born, Israel was already a fully-fledged country.
As I grew up in
the divided and humiliated city of Jerusalem, I used to peek through the cracks
in the walls at the occupied part of the city and swear that when it was my
turn, I would fight to free Jerusalem. But when I was 17 and still in high
school, Jerusalem and the rest of Israel were liberated in six magnificent days.
And once again I was left behind to envy those who had the privilege of fighting
for our homeland. Once more I lamented that fact that I had been born too
I could not have imagined then that the fight for Jerusalem and the
Land of Israel would continue for decades, and that I would be the one to carry
on fighting for Israel’s right to exist and to unify Jerusalem.
entered the Six Day War for the wrong reasons. We did not initiate the war in an
effort to liberate Jerusalem and the rest of our homeland that had been
conquered by our enemies, but “only” to protect ourselves and to rid ourselves
of the threat from Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The 1967 borders were called “The
Auschwitz borders” by foreign minister Abba Eban, one of Israel’s most leftist
leaders. If Israel were to return to its pre-1967 borders, it would be eternally
tempted to return to war. But we have repeated the mantra that the war was
forced upon us thousands of times.
This is the difference between the
Zionism that called for the creation of a Jewish state as a reaction to the
threat of extinction in Europe or because there were hundreds of thousands of
Jewish refugees in Europe after the Holocaust.
In other words, To some,
Zionism meant Israel’s raison d’etre was to be a safe refuge for the Jewish
To others, such as Avraham (Yair) Stern and my late father,
Yisrael Eldad, it meant we should fight to liberate the Land of
Israel because it is our homeland and it is occupied by strangers. In the same
way, a Frenchman would fight to liberate his homeland even if the occupier was
not cruel. The Land of Israel for them was an end in itself, not just a
This approach views Zionism as the liberation movement of the
Jewish people and not as a philanthropic organization whose next goal is to help
Jews in distress. This is the also the reason why the Six Day War never ended.
It was not enough to liberate the land from the Arabs; we have yet to liberate
our Jewish souls from the mentality of persecuted refugees who want nothing more
than not to be pursued and killed.
This is also why some of us are
willing to discuss “returning” Judea and Samaria to the Arabs and about creating
a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with or without insignificant
border adjustments. For these people, the Land of Israel is valuable only as a
“safe haven” for the Jewish people.
As a tool. And if it’s only a tool,
it can be a big one or a small one. If it’s a safe haven, it doesn’t matter if
it’s narrow or wide. We can always just dig down deeper underground.
is it nobody has yet come up with the suggestion of giving the Arabs all the
land above ground, while we will settle for everything below ground? Just as
former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami did with the Temple Mount.) This
functional approach to the Land of Israel denies the people of Israel’s natural,
historical, traditional and religious right to the Land. It purports that the
Six Day War was “forced on us,” instead of affirming that it was a just war of
liberation which we initiated.
When the poet Uri Zvi Greenberg heard that
Moshe Dayan had ordered that the Israeli flag be removed from the Temple Mount
and the keys handed over to the Muslim Wakf, he said, “They will withdraw from
every inch.” He understood that if the Israeli government is willing to
relinquish the holiest place on earth to the Jewish people to its enemies of its
own free will and without its hand being forced – this is a bad sign that we are
not treating the Land of Israel as a homeland that should never be given
Part of Greenberg’s prophecy came true when Menachem Begin (who was a
minister in the national unity government and did not oppose the removing of the
Israeli flag from the Temple Mount) gave the entire Sinai desert to Egypt in
exchange for 40 years of quiet. But unfortunately, we must now prepare our army
for a war with Egypt. Not all of his prophecy has come true, however – at least
we are still in control of Judea and Samaria, which are the key to the future of
the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
People around the world demand
two things from us: end the occupation and support the founding of a Palestinian
state. We have the power to do both. Let’s put an end to the occupation – the
Muslim occupation of the Land of Israel, which can be seen most prominently in
the Muslim control of the Temple Mount. Let’s go today and take back the keys
and declare our full sovereignty and right to pray as Jews on the Temple
And “two states for two peoples” is also a great idea. The State
of Israel will stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea with
Jerusalem as its capital, and the Palestinian state will be in Jordan with Amman
as its capital. The Arabs currently living in Judea and Samaria will be Israeli
residents, but their nationality will be Jordanian.
really will happen (as it did during the Six Day War) – not because we
understand that this is the only viable solution, but because once again it will
be imposed on us when the Palestinians expel the Hashemite king and create a
state for themselves.
Any other solution would mean that we will carry on
fighting this war for hundreds of years to come.
The writer was a
Brigadier-General in the Medical Corps, professor of Plastic Surgery at the
Hebrew University School of Medicine, and a Member of the
Translated by Hannah Hochner.