27 March 2011
What is the basis for our claim that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people? This is not simply a rhetorical question but rather an existential one since the Arabs claim that the same land is theirs. According to their version they were here first and then we, the big bad colonizers, came and stole their land. Although the many holes in their story can easily be exposed, focusing all of one’s energy on trying to debunk every lie is ultimately an exercise in futility. The Arabs believe their story and many in the world and even some Jews are fully convinced that the truth is with the Arabs.
Moreover, it has been the Arabs consistent and clear projection of what they believe, regardless of whether or not it is true, that has helped create the current environment where incessant demands are being placed on Israel to relinquish significant parts of its country for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and this notwithstanding the obvious dangers that such a state would pose for the future existence of the State of Israel.
Thus, in order to maintain a firm stand in the face of such demands, especially at a time when there is also a growing local threat to our very existence, we need to take a long overdue look in the mirror and clarify once and for all the reason that we claim this land is ours in the first place. In other words, do we claim our right to the Land of Israel because of the tragedy of the Holocaust, or because of a United Nations vote in 1947 or perhaps for some other sentimental reason? Although such beliefs may have been sufficient in the past, it is doubtful that these reasons alone can still provide us with the necessary fortitude to withstand caving in to the currently mounting threats and demands.
Similarly, clarity on this fundamental topic is essential for enabling the Israeli political establishment to start thinking out of the box on issues regarding the land. There are options outside of the suicidal two-state solution and it is high time that we actively begin pursuing them. However, without the inner confidence that is provided by having a clear understanding of why the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, not surprisingly alternative ideas are seldom even discussed. Thus, the situation continues to sputter along with most of our leaders still clinging to the bankrupt belief that there is no choice but the two-state solution.
What is more, this lack of clarity affects both sides of the political spectrum, leaving us with the bluff known as the left-right political divide. In other words, for years the left has been saying to the Arabs “take Judea and Samaria and create a Palestinian state” whereas the right, lacking any alternative approach, first flexes its muscles and drags its feet and only afterwards says to the Arabs “take Judea and Samaria and create a Palestinian state”. Thus nothing changes and we’re constantly “stuck” since for the most part there is only a quantitative difference between the left and the right on issues regarding the land but not a qualitative one.
Therefore, in order to stand strong in the face of all the demands and threats as well as to begin actively changing the situation in a positive direction, we need to focus our energy on trying to elucidate this very fundamental issue. Moreover, it is our own lack of clarity on this issue and not what the Arabs or the rest of the world maintain, that is the real source of the problem.
Having said all that, the truth is there is only one thing that is capable of providing us with the level of certainty that is needed to keep from buckling under to the escalating local and international pressure. Simply stated, it is the unwavering belief that the Land of Israel was given to the Jewish people by God. This basic tenet of Judaism has the ability to instill within us the deep sense of conviction that is needed to fully believe in the justness of our cause and to stand strong against those that challenge our right to exist as a sovereign nation in the Land of Israel. Moreover it is this, and not the Holocaust or a UN vote, which is our real claim to the Land of Israel.
The question is, do we as individuals and as a nation actually believe in this most basic principle of Judaism? This is a question that we no longer have the luxury to ignore since our continued existence in this land is contingent upon it being addressed.