Published in the LIJW, October 10-16, 2014
A Message and Wish for 5775:
Remember that Judea and Samaria are an Integral Part of Our Homeland
BY HOWARD TEICH
A New Year, a year of peace! And I am committed to seeing a future peace for Israel that includes Judea and Samaria. No apologies, no sense of wrong, this is the land of my ancestors, this is my Jewish history, and it is rightfully our land now to govern.
I walked on the land of Judea and Samaria this past August, stood at Shiloh, ancient capital of our Jewish kingdom before Jerusalem, and I was overlooking the Jordan Valley, and saw Mt. Moriah directly ahead. I thought of Moses looking at this land I was on, the Promised Land, the land of the Jewish people, of his descendants. I looked South to Jerusalem, and saw the stories in my mind of our early days, of Abraham, Joseph, Sarah, Rachel, Solomon, King David and practically every one of our Biblical ancestors that we are encountering during this holiday season, on Shabbat and in our daily lives. We were led to this land, they lived on this land, and our ancestors fought to keep this land these thousands of years, sometimes with victories, and more often with defeats.
In modern times, the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations made this part of Jewish Palestine, as it was known pre-Israel, and only when the Arabs refused to recognize Israel’s statehood in 1947, and went to war, did the new State of Israel lose Judea and Samaria again. In 1967, after being attacked by its Arab neighbors, in a miracle of the Six-Day War, Israel was able to defend itself, survive against all odds, and reclaim our ancestral homeland of Judea and Samaria. We have every right to stay on this land of our ancestors, and I say, never to leave it again. The Arab Palestinians and Israel’s many enemies in the world have rewritten this story of reclamation to be an occupation of the land they call the West Bank, have claimed the rights of the Palestinian Arabs on the land are being denied, have declared that Israel’s expansion of its communities and villages (“settlements” as they call them), all to be in violation of international law. A grand lie is being perpetrated, and we must not stay silent.
Many of even our own Jewish people think we are wrong for being there. They support boycotts against products from Judea and Samaria (known as BDS), and insist on a two-state solution in which every inch of this land would be given to the Palestinian Arabs, agreeing that all Jews would be removed from the land, as was done in Gaza’s Gush Katif and in Sinai’s Yamit. Just recently I was informed that the Jewish Federations of North America omits Judea and Samaria on its website map of Israel, and apparently supports little, if anything involving Judea and Samaria. I had heard that no UJA-Federation mission took people over the so-called Green Line, and yet, to see the Federations website, in its United Israel Appeal involving the Jewish Agency of Israel, not even include Judea and Samaria on their map, well, I was shocked.
The great Jewish mystics teach us that at times of darkness that we most see the light. It’s trapped in there, and it is our responsibility to bring that light out. It’s the special clarion call of the shofar that we heard during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, that moves us to action to right the world, to bring light to the world. To me, right now, the world starts with our own people.
With the recent Gaza War, it became even clearer that we cannot leave Judea and Samaria, and the idea of a two-state solution involving it must be taken off the table. Missiles fired from Gaza threatened a significant portion of Israel. If Israel were to lose control of Judea and Samaria and a Palestinian State created there multiplying today’s threat with many additional thousands of missiles on another front, with the entire country in range in seconds, realistically the future of Israel would be bleak.
So, as we enter into the Year 5775, now celebrating Succot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchas Torah, a series of holidays fully symbolizing our Jewish identity, I ask you to proudly and boldly stand up with all those of our Jewish people who are on the front line there, an increasing minority of our Jewish people here, and a sizable and vocal Christian community, and proclaim your support of Judea and Samaria’s future.
In August, I saw in Judea and Samaria a most beautiful land, with villages of both Jewish and Palestinian Arabs (still separate, that is, as Oslo mandated). And yet, Jewish and Palestinian Arabs ride together on the highways, most IDF roadblocks have been removed (in fact, I saw none), and there is development in the Palestinian Arab towns of housing and businesses, and Palestinian Arabs working in Jewish businesses and communities. Life has improved since Israel has taken control of the land of Judea and Samaria (administrative functions for Arab villages are handled by the Palestinian Authority), for both Jews and Palestinian Arabs, and there is a long way to go, and you can just know that it can get better, and that it will get better, together.
When I was in Judea and Samaria, I met wonderful people, doing hard work for their future, and being on the front line of our future, our pioneers. There can be peace together, in a newly imagined form, as Egypt just suggested a solution incorporating expansion of Gaza into a portion of the Sinai, or Israel sovereignty over the land including Judea and Samaria with equal treatment of the Palestinian Arab people on the land. It can be imagined. It can be done. Israel has sacrificed and returned land in the Sinai, Gaza, and parts of Southern Lebanon, seeking peace. Israel no longer can offer the land of Judea and Samaria. With today’s demographics and today’s birthrates, a durable expanded Land of Israel can be a bright future for both the Jews and non-Jews of a democratic, Jewish majority Israel.
With trust in G-d, and with a new unity in our Jewish community, we can celebrate for thousands of more years, in Diaspora and in the Land of Israel, and in peace.