Holding On to Our Homeland:

No, you cannot tell my people to go

by Howard Teich,  Published in the Long Island Jewish World/ Manhattan Sentinel, January 10-16. 2014

An interesting thing happened when I watched the movie, Mandela: Long Road to Freedom.  I listened, and learned, and applied his thinking to Judea and Samaria.  His concern was apartheid and that the powerful people in South Africa were directing the destiny of his people, and he asked the right question, “Am I to allow that powerful person to tell my people where to be!”

Well, I say the same thing, “Are we to allow the world powers to tell the Jewish people that they cannot live in their Biblical homeland, Judea and Samaria, and take away our rights to control our own destiny there?  I say no on every level.

Let’s really take a look.  The Israel of today is a small sliver of land; one country carved out of the wide expanse of the former Ottoman Empire, with the Arabs being given the overwhelming bulk of the land for their numerous countries and kingdoms, including a country for the Palestinian people, Jordan.  With the League of Nations unanimously declaring in 1920, “whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country,” and with the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres, the League of Nations, the U.N.”s declaration of statehood, and so many wars and treaties later, the issue of Israel’s right to all the land that it now has reclaimed must be a closed issue.

As Churchill voiced it, the Jewish people returning to its land in Palestine are “further development of an existing community,” and he added that it should be known that the Jewish people “are in Palestine as of right.”

Fact:  The Arabs refuse to recognize the right of the Jewish people to have even one state of their own, notwithstanding the reality of Israel as a leading country in the world.  The Arabs want to destroy Israel, and the Jewish community wants it to continue to exist.  That is the essence of the continuing problem.  Israel has shrunk its land in the name of peace, sacrificing its rightful land – land it reclaimed in wars brought against it by the Arabs with the directed intention of destroying Israel, or as they term it, throwing Israel and the Jewish people back into the Sea.

Fact:  With 700,000 Jewish people now living in Judea and Samaria, including post-1967 Jerusalem, the Jewish homeland is now being reconstituted in its ancient homeland after 2,000 years.  Hebron, Beit-El, Shiloh, Shechem, and Bethlehem are all Jewish centers of great significance in our biblical history, and each continuing to thrive with Jewish people living on the land.  Dani Dayan, chief foreign envoy of The Yesha Council, put it succinctly, “The Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria are not only legal but are impeccably legitimate. Shiloh in Samaria and Hebron in Judea are the cradles of Jewish civilization, and as such the centers of the Jewish sovereignty, preceding even Jerusalem. These are the sites in which the ancient Jewish Tabernacle stood and where the founding fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried, where King David set up his first capital and where Jews have lived from time immemorial.”

Now, let’s take a realistic look at what will happen if this land would be handed over to the Palestinian Arabs as part of a supposed peace plan.  First, all Jews would be forced to leave, be forced to march out of their sacred land and remove remnants of their current civilization there.  In fact, if the withdrawals for peace with Egypt in the Sinai, and with the Palestinians in  Gaza are a guide, not only will every Jewish person, house, synagogue, greenhouse and flower have to be removed, even every Jew who was buried there will have to have their graves moved out.  Yes, all of that was required when Israel left Yamit and Sharm El Sheik in the Sinai, and Gush Katif in Gaza,.  We will never forget, and we cannot ever have that happen.  Never again!

This is not just an Israeli issue.  It affects all Jewish people, in Israel and in Diaspora, for after withdrawal the worldwide Jewish community can expect to never visit its sacred places again, as we would not be allowed back on the land.  And, there may not be another opportunity for future generations, as one could reasonably expect that the Palestinian Arabs, with control in their hands, will attempt to destroy each and every Jewish site in Judea and Samaria, to essentially eliminate all remnants of a Jewish civilization on that land.  That’s their way of insuring an end to a Jewish future there, by destroying a Jewish past.

Well, world, that’s not who we are.  As a Jewish people, we will not stand by and let that happen.  Jewish survival has always been based on forging ahead.  Going back to the time of Moses, the Jewish people were not willing to remain as slaves, and a leader emerged to take us out.  Whenever we have faith, and believe in a guiding hand, we forge ahead.

When Moses was told to lead his people into the Promised Land, Canaan, the Jewish people knew they would face battles from people who did not want them to live there. Yet they had faith, and were victorious.  In the multiple wars in Israel, with odds against the Jewish people, Israel won each time.  Notwithstanding the Holocaust where the Europeans destroyed six million of our own, the Jewish people forged ahead when they may have collapsed, and now live in a golden age in our history, in Israel, in America, and throughout the Diaspora.

We have seen Jewish land and property taken away previously in Europe and in the Arab countries.  So, is this a surprise?  Not really.  We have seen the removal of Jews from their territory previously in Europe and in the Arab countries.  So, is this a surprise?  Not really.  We have seen worse previously from Europe and the Arab countries, threatening our very existence, so if they press for policies today that once again, though more subtly, threaten the very existence of Israel and the vibrancy of a Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, we should not be really surprised.

A great Jewish Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, in the early 1900s took a tough stand when the British controlled the lands  that were to be divided into the countries of the modern Middle East.  He rightly stated that what comprised Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Israel was always Jewish land, and that any Arab claims on the land would simply be attempts to steal the land.  So, it is time today for the Jews to surprise the world, and to say, in his words, “no, you cannot steal our land”.

Let’s be clear about the land in question.  Israel has every right to each and every inch of that land, by historical and legal right.  It is outrageous that the world today should declare once again its position that Jews have no place in their ancestral homeland, and should essentially say, “get out.”

Israel was attacked in 1967 and 1973, defended itself, and in the process was able to reclaim land that was wrongfully taken from it: Judea, Samaria and part of Jerusalem.  Jordan controlled that land for years, although only two countries in the world had recognized their claim to it.  In 1988. 10 years after Israel made a great sacrifice for peace by giving back nearly 50 percent of its land, Sinai, to Egypt, and in the midst of the first intifada by Arafat, the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies issued a landmark report, “Israel’s Options for Peace”.  Six options were given after much study, with a seventh recommendation forming the basis for the two-state solution.

The Jaffee Center Report called for defensible borders for Israel, and security arrangements, never calling for the return of all the land.  It was the expectation that Israel would retain control of the Jordan Valley, and that Jews would remain in Judea and Samaria after the Palestinian state was established side-by-side with Israel.  There would be demilitarization of the land, early warning and air-defense systems, a significant transition period for testing before any sovereignty was given up, and peace treaties in the works with other Arab countries..  It was never intended, nor even contemplated, that Jews would entirely leave the land as part of the peace, for that’s no peace at all.

Today, from the history of negotiations and current statements in the media, thinking exists that Israel should return to the 1967 land status, trade parts of its land if it wants to remain in any part of Judea and Samaria, force all Jews to remove themselves and their communities of generations, as well as IDF forces and outposts, even early-warning stations, and then have on the table discussion of the status of Jerusalem, and have the Temple Mount remain off-limit to Jews.  And of course, there’s the issue of refugees.

This is insanity at best, and relative suicide at worst.  Changes since 1988 include the total withdrawal from Gush-Katif; the establishment of a Hamas-led Gaza with no Israeli controls; a Hezbullah power-center in Lebanon; turmoil and danger in Syria;  Egypt continuing in a revolutionary swirl; and an enemy in Iran with its stated policy of eradicating Israel, and thousands upon thousands of missiles targeted for Israel, with the future potential of nuclear and chemical warheads.

So, when powerful people in the world see fit to cast their design on the future of the Jewish people, we have to say to them, “No, you cannot tell my people to give up our ancestral homeland that Israel reclaimed in wars defending their land, and that is my history and my legacy, and now guards the security perimeters required potentially for Israel’s future existence.”    Whether the recent policy decisions on Iran prove right or wrong, we’ll see in the future.  What is now more eminently clear is that the case for remaining in Judea and Samaria became much stronger.

Forge ahead, the world Jewish community must, for this is the historic land of the entire Jewish community.  So, we say to Israel, which is our front-line there, build communities today, and continue to rediscover our ancient communities lost for thousands of years.  That must be the plan.  I have called for annexation of Judea and Samaria for years, and once again call on the Knesset and Prime Minister to make that choice.  Do it in 2014, for Israel and for all the Jewish people in Diaspora.

The Palestinian Arabs can choose to remain in Judea and Samaria, a choice the Jewish people would not have if that land ever became a Palestinian state.  The fact is that Jews and Arabs live together on that land today, and their economy is doing well, and the fact is they are living mostly at peace and mostly well.  Yes, there are limitations today, and in a new situation of peace without leadership impediments, the future can be bright for all peoples on that land.  So, forge ahead, Israel, and we will be with you.

Once again citing the words of Nelson Mandela from the four walls of his cell, as taken from President Obama’s eulogy, “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll;  I am the master of my fate,  I am the captain of my soul!”

No, world, you cannot tell my People what to do with our land.  The Jewish people’s  history and future are in Judea and Samaria.  It is time to take a stand for our claim, our right and our legacy, and it is time to do so now.