A Defining Time for Israel

Published in the Long Island Jewish World. Manhattan Jewish Sentinel
By Howard Teich

Some have compared the actions of Israel’s leaders today to the appeasement of Britain’s Chamberlain in dealing with Germany’s Hitler just prior to World War II.  I wasn’t alive.  I didn’t directly experience it.  I don’t know.

Yet, with our 5,000 year history, and the survival of Israel potentially at stake, I couldn’t be more disturbed by Israel’s leadership today, for it effects all of us, Jews throughout the world, whether we live in Israel or not.

Israel deserted Gaza, leaving the Gush Katif towns and community to be taken over by Hamas, as a reality and as a legacy.  Now, it is a terrorist state.  Yet, the spirit of the pioneers of Gush Katif who were forced out by the Israeli government, and those who opposed the desertion, still exists.  We must learn from their experience, and move forward with commitment and strength,  for appeasement and weakness will not work.

Israel cannot risk another terrorist state on its borders.  Fatah is not the answer, and cannot be trusted with Israel’s destiny, no matter how much propping up there is..  Israel must control its destiny.  Israel must secure Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem forever.  Israel must not, and cannot, risks its future and that of the Jewish people in diaspora.  Yes, all of our futures.

Where are we 40 years after the victory of the 1967 War?  Missing a certain optimism, and yet still in a position that we have liberated ancient Israel, with Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem  in Israel’s control.  It is time to take the next step in a world of danger and confusion, and that’s to move to the next era, and declare the new, expanded borders of Israel.

It’s time to turn to Israel’s enemies, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others, and yes including Abbas, and say, you missed your chance.  Now we’re not any longer asking for your approval, we’re declaring our G-d-given borders forever.

Here’s my contention.  After years of failed attempts to carve peace for the future in a formula of land for peace, wherein the West Bank would be a portion of a future Palestinian State, I say we can do more for the future of Israel, the future of the Jewish people, and I would contend, for the future of the Palestinian people, by annexing Judea, Samaria, and the entirety of Jerusalem now, and continue discussions as to the future of Gaza and the Golan.

Recently, in reading Martin Buber’s, A Land of Two People, I specially noted his words written in 1939, “The correct response, pertaining to points of view on the Jewish-Arab question, “is a reaction to the moment not from the moment, but from the future.  This is what we have missed every time.  But we can still do it even today.”

Martin Buber believed deeply that Jews and Arabs needed to live together if the future State of Israel was to succeed in a Jewish way, and I agree with him as we now see.  The how is the difference.

Let’s look from today and the future, looking back.  How did we allow the word “occupation” and “occupiers” to be tied to Israel, stigmatizing the defense of Israel in 1967, its great victory against those countries that wanted to terminate its existence, and the rebirth of the Promised State of Israel in its full and its permanent borders?  Why did we not annex the land or call it “liberated.”

Why was the West Bank not “occupied land” when it was controlled by Jordan, when refugee camps existed from 1948-1967, and when those who lived in the land had no, or few rights under the Jordanian regime.  The Arabs wrote the story, together with the rest of the international community.

The issue, however, is not outside of ourselves.  Those who are part of ‘the so-called peace camp or leftist camp” in Israel and in America, Jews not Arabs, who see no basis for Jewish control of the entirety of a united Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (some are even embittered that we say Israel should be a Jewish State), must be questioned today as to their beliefs.

Articles written criticizing Israel for its human rights standards, when Arabs of Palestinian descent, are let off the hook for being terrorists, destroying Israeli civilian mothers and children, as well as their own people, whether for no reason or every reason, should now be held to account.  They do not serve our people’s long-term interests.

What would happen?  A transformation of our people based on our history and heritage, our religion, and our move towards redemption.  Once again, we must become one people, united for the future of Israel, and the Jewish people.

This reawakening, and responsibility, is not just in Israel, it is in World Jewry as well.  We must stand up for the stronger Israel, dissipate world pressure on Israel to self-destruct, and educate the world of the great possibilities for the Israel promised to the Jewish people by G-d in the Torah.

We are the people who set a new standard in the world.  We led, we did not retreat.  We faced formidable opposition, and we overcame them.

I Have a Dream.  It’s our dream for a modern day Israel.  It’s not necessarily the Palestinian dream.  It’s the Jewish dream.  It’s the dream of over 2,000 years.  It’s the dream of our heritage and our people.  And we have it now, and all we have to do is keep it.

The miracle of Israel is here.  We need to see it again.  “Strength and courage, “ G-d said to our people when he told them to enter the Land of Israel.  This was the entirety of the Promised Land, starting at the Jordan River.

Yes, the Jordan River, where Israel is today, yet we accept the terminology of “occupied land.”  It is not.  It is land retaken, liberated, as part of what should be modern day Israel.  Some would see this as part of the redemption.  It is part of the Promised Land, of King David’s Israel.  Therefore, I ask again, how do we accept “occupied land?

The 40th Anniversary of the Six-Day War has special significance, as one remembers the 40-year journey for Moses and the Jewish people as they wandered in the desert before being allowed to enter into the Promised land.  Lessons had to be learned, and a new generation to be born and accept leadership.

Not much difference for us today.  Forty years of attempts at peace, from land to peace, to creating a separate Palestinian State next to Israel.   And what do we have?  No peace, and an economically growing, a spiritually uplifting, and a profoundly strong State of Israel.  Perhaps we had to learn before we could enter in the 21st Century into Judea and Samaria, and the entirety of Jerusalem as our land.

“Here I am.”  Yes, we as Jews have found ourselves in the land of Israel, Judea and Samaria, the land that G-d gave to us as a people, taken away from us during our years of exile.  Although we have secured the historical and Biblical land of Israel, our ancestral land of Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem, are the international sources of pressure for creating peace by giving up the land.

In modern day terms, could it be any clearer that the only road to future peace is holding onto the land, redeeming the land as part of Eretz Yisrael, and creating on the land communities and opportunities that were prophesied?  Don’t we listen anymore?  Don’t we hear anymore?  Don’t we feel anymore?

Or perhaps the question is more aptly put, how many times are we told, how many times are we forewarned that we don’t heed the message?  Don’t we have a body of ancient prophets who so aptly spilled out the warnings not only for their times, but for our age?  How can we ignore it today?

I am saddened when I think that our people are so ready to give away our ancestral lands, our sacred lands that carry the history of our people, and that essentially carry the soul of our people.  For who are we, if not the descendants of that land that we are so intertwined with.  Yes, who are we?

I have a dream that we will be restored to the entirety of the ancient homeland of the Jewish people, reunited in the land of King David.  I dream of peace for our people, not a pretend peace advocated by false prophets who have their hope on words and dollars, rather a real peace that secures our Jewish people in land, in security, and in heart.

Yes, I have a Dream.  I dream of Arabs and Jews living in peace, for we are both children of Abraham.

What do we need to change?  We today have the land of Judea, Samaria, and Israel.  We have reunited the Land of King David, as foretold in the Bible.  And there are Arabs living on the land.  With great wisdom and resources of Israel and the world community, we could give the Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem an opportunity far greater than their Palestinian brethren have in this land, and in other countries and territories.  Otherwise, G-d gave us directions in the Bible, and even foretold what would happen if they insisted on being enemies.  That would be their choice.

One hundred million Arabs have 98% of the land in the Middle East.  It could all be questioned if one went back to the 1920’s and 1940’s, and yet we are referring to land claims of the Jewish people that go back thousands of years

Our Jewish apologists and appeasers run to give back the land of our forefathers, our sacred land, and with no hope, or reality     of peace.  They talk of it, rub shoulders with our enemies, blame Israel, and are the 21st Century’s false prophets.

In an interesting recent private conversation with a so-called communal leader, I posed the question of annexing Judea and Samaria, recognizing the risk and reward, but holding a deep-felt belief that with G-d on our side, we would achieve our goal, our destiny.  He was Orthodox.  I am not.  He said to me he did not have that level of faith in G-d.  That’s the issue of our day.

Do we have faith in G-d, in our people, and in our destiny? And pragmatically, do we have trust, and believe in Israel and the IDF.   Here I am.  I do have that faith, that trust, and that belief.  We can make it an extraordinary time for Israel, and World Jewry, as we commit as a Jewish people to ourselves and the world, that we can bring “peace to the Middle East, and if we follow from there, “peace on Earth, and goodwill to men.”  It is our challenge.  It is our destiny.

Yes, it is a Defining Time for Israel and the Jewish People.  We have liberated much of the Historic and Biblical Land of Israel.  It is time to finally and formally claim it.  It is ours.