Profound roots in Israel

We have a State of Israel to defend our right to exist, and a large Christian community which understands the justice and the truth of our rights to Israel.

hand521 (photo credit: Isral Weiss)
(photo credit: Isral Weiss)
‘“Go up and inherit the land which I have given to you,” and you rebelled against the word of the Lord your God and you had no faith in Him and you did not hearken unto His voice. You were rebels against the Lord from the day that I have known you’ (Deuteronomy 9:23-24).
Ekev is a paean of praise to the Land of Israel: its beauty, its fruits, its rivers, valleys and hills.
Above all, the Bible insists that God has given the land to Israel and so we must do whatever we can to take possession of our divine inheritance.
From this perspective, the heinous sin of the desert generation was its refusal to listen to God’s command.
This does not necessarily mean that in our generation we have the right to displace innocent non-Jews living in areas within our patrimony. In biblical times, God waited until the seven indigenous nations of Israel had lost their moral right to the land as a result of their sinfulness; only then did He command us to conquer the land. However one interprets this, the Bible certainly sees the Jewish people as the rightful occupiers of the Land of Israel as long as we are morally and ethically deserving of it. It goes without saying that at the very least the Five Books of Moses provide us with profound historic roots within the land dating back 4,000 years. Let us now turn to the contemporary situation in which the world – from Israel’s opposition parties to J Street, the European Union and the Arab bloc in the United Nations – call the Israeli government intransigent for its refusal to accept another settlement freeze and enter into negotiations with the Palestinians. Criticism of Israel and its leadership is legitimate.
Even those who love each other have the right to be critical of each other. However, delegitimizing Israel is not legitimate: In our post-Holocaust generation it is indeed a most obscene expression of anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, very few people study or even care about historical truth. Within the media there are two different narratives: the Arab narrative and the true narrative. The Arab narrative has it that Judea and Samaria were populated by the Palestinians for thousands of years. As a result of the Holocaust which found the Jews with no place to go (this is the kind version; the other Arab version, trumpeted by Muhammad Abbas, is that the Holocaust never occurred), the Jews came sweeping down upon Judea and Samaria just as the Boers attacked the South African lands which they took from the native South African Blacks. Indeed, Yasser Arafat claimed until his dying breath that we had no claim to the Temple Mount and there was never a Jewish Holy Temple on Mount Moriah. In a debate which I had with an Egyptian imam at Cornell University, the imam had the impudence to claim that “Everyone knows al-Aksa Mosque was established before Abraham was even born!” The historically correct Jewish narrative sees Jewish settlement in Israel as a virtually unbroken 4,000-year-old chain. The Treaty of Versailles, after the First World War – which even incorporated the Balfour Declaration – called for the formation of 18 Arab states and one Jewish state, initially on both sides of the Jordan River.
Between 1918 and 1947, 22 Arab states but not one Jewish state were created in the Middle East. Finally, on November 29, 1947, came a United Nations partition plan – clearly a result of pangs of conscience after the Holocaust – calling for a division of the West Bank, with 80 percent going to the Arabs and 20% to Israel. We accepted; they rejected. Then came the War of Independence, which thankfully we won.
In 1967, before there were any settlements whatsoever, the Arabs began the Six Day War to push us into the sea. Miraculously, we won that war and all of Judea and Samaria. Nevertheless, in the year 2000, then-prime minister Ehud Barak offered to give up 94% of the West Bank to the Palestinians in return for peace. This was rejected by Arafat, who explained himself very clearly in the Arab press. It was not sufficient for him to go back to the pre-’67 armistice lines. He wanted to go back to the pre-’48 borders – and that is the entire point of the Arab insistence of their “right of return.” To argue that we have no right of settlement is to accept the Arab narrative that we have occupied their territory, disregarding the fact that Judea and Samaria only came into our hands because of a war of aggression initiated by those who want to wipe Israel off the map. It is indeed a de-legitimization of Israel’s rights as a Jewish state, and is therefore rank anti-Semitism. This statement is proven by the fact that our prime minister agreed to freeze settlements if the Palestinians would accept Israel as a Jewish state. As expected, they refused to do so. Apparently, our so-called “intransigence” is in the same category as our “apartheidness” – a repetition of the “big lie” of Goebbels, enthusiastically adopted by a hateful world less than seven decades after the Holocaust. This time we have a State of Israel to defend our right to exist, and a large Christian community which understands the justice and the truth of our rights to Israel.
Shabbat shalom
Ekev, Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25, is read on August 20.
The writer is the founder and chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone Colleges and Graduate Programs, and chief rabbi of Efrat.