God, not Balfour, gave Israel to the Jews

Judea and Samaria are the region where 80% of all biblical events occurred. Trump mentioned this at the White House. These are intrinsically connected to Jewish identity.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY President Mahmoud Abbas. The author argues that the Palestinians too often deny the Jewish connection to the land of Israel (photo credit: REUTERS)
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY President Mahmoud Abbas. The author argues that the Palestinians too often deny the Jewish connection to the land of Israel
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump is the most pro-Israel president in history, and proved it again with his precedent-setting peace initiative.
The plan recognizes a reality that past presidents and peace processors refused to acknowledge – namely, that Israel will never compromise on the indivisibility of its capital in Jerusalem, and that the Jewish people has a legitimate claim to Judea and Samaria, and no government would force the evacuation of more than 450,000 Jews.
The plan also prioritizes Israel’s security needs. The issue of a Palestinian state – even with its prescribed limitations – is problematic for all the reasons I wrote last week.
But this week I want to focus on a question the plan brings into sharp focus, and that is, who gave Israel to the Jews? Does the Jewish people have Israel as a grant from the United Nations, the United States, and the great powers? Or is it bequeathed to the Jewish people by divine right?
The very first Rashi in the Torah says that all of the Book of Genesis is superfluous. The haunting stories of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, Jacob’s love of Rachel, Joseph’s colorful dreams, and the Jewish people’s move to Egypt, is all extraneous. It should not be in the Torah, which is a book of law, not history. The Torah should have started with the first commandment, to bless the new moon and declare new lunar months, found about a third into the Book of Exodus.
So why does the Book of Genesis exist? For one reason: to teach us that God created the world. The earth belongs to Him. He gives it to whom he sees fit. And he gave a tiny sliver of land in the Middle East to the Jews as an eternal inheritance. It’s called Israel.
And Rashi adds, the time will come when the nations of the world will tell the Jews you have no home. You belong nowhere. Not in France. Not in Germany. Not in England. And certainly not in Israel. Perhaps you Jews belong on the moon. And at that time, the Jews will show the world the Book of Genesis along with its declaration that God created all the earth and parceled out the lands to those who were fit in His eyes. And He gave Israel to the Jews. For all eternity.
This Rashi is 1,000 years old. The Talmud, upon which it is based, is 2,500 years old. How utterly prophetic. The Jews today are accused of stealing Israel from the Arabs, a people who came to the land only after the Jews were expelled by the Romans two thousand years ago. And the question today becomes, Who gave Israel to the Jews? The Torah’s answer is clear. God gave Israel to the Jewish people. No one else.
IT AMAZES me that the Arabs can speak with such conviction of their holy places and their divine rights. Catholics can speak of the Vatican belonging to them as an eternal city, even though it is merely 100 acres carved out of the city of Rome. Surely the Italians could have claimed it long ago. But the Church is adamant. The Vatican is not Italy. It is a sovereign state.
Yet we Jews feel that such arguments of divine right and religious connection lack sophistication in the world of modern politics.
Trump is the best friend Israel has ever had in the Oval Office. We are indebted to the president for his steadfast support and constant defense of the Jewish state. Likewise, the United States is Israel’s stalwart friend and ally which has given the Jewish state billions of dollars in international aid.
But Israel is not given to the Jewish people by the most powerful man in the world, nor by the world’s mightiest nation, but by a source infinitely more powerful.
Our Evangelical brethren understand this argument much more than the Jews. To them, the Bible is a land deed that dare not be questioned. And those who protect the Jewish people on their land are blessed. Those who seem to evict the Jews from their land are cursed.
The president’s plan to allow Israel to annex the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is precedent-setting and is a recognition of the divine right of the Jewish people to the land. It is long overdue that the United States grant recognition to Israel’s sovereignty over the area where more than 450,000 Jews now live. We are grateful for the president’s understanding that Israel would never forcibly remove these people from their homes, no matter what the Palestinians and the international community say.
Judea and Samaria are the region where 80% of all biblical events occurred. Trump mentioned this at the White House. These are intrinsically connected to Jewish identity.
Trump and his team should be credited with creativity for devising their plan. They should also be applauded for the first steps allowing Israel to apply sovereignty to the communities in Judea and Samaria. The dangerous elements of a Palestinian state that might turn out like Gaza must still be addressed.
The president’s plan rightly calls for the Hamas terrorist government to cease to exist as a precondition to a Palestinian state. But the Palestinian dictator and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas is likewise unlikely to change. He turned down an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state in 94% of the disputed territory in 2008 and has refused to hold face-to-face talks with Israel’s prime minister for 12 years despite the pro-Palestinian agenda of the Obama administration.
Economic incentives can bring the Palestinians around, because I believe Palestinians do want good lives for themselves and their children. I don’t believe they always go along with the incitement of their leaders, but this isn’t about what I believe, it’s about what the Palestinians are going to do. It’s about whether we’re going to see active changes not just among the Palestinian leadership but on the Palestinian street.
The coming weeks will see the gradual unfolding of the Trump peace plan, whether it is realistic, and how it is embraced by Israel and the world. But one thing is certain. Its focus on Israel in general, and Judea and Samaria in particular, as land bequeathed to the Jews by divine right is precedent-setting and finally gives the lie to the European argument of many centuries: that the Jews essentially have no home, and any land given to the Jews is a by-product of the Balfour Declaration or some other act of European benevolence. Rather, Israel was gifted to the Jews by God as an eternal inheritance that no power on earth can undo.
The writer is the international best-selling author of 33 books, including the upcoming Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RabbiShmuley.