I read in the news,
just before a recent Sabbath, about the terrible tragedy of three young Jewish
soldiers mercilessly murdered at Netzarim -- in the Gaza -- early last Friday
morning. It's always painful to hear about young people cut-down at the beginning
of their lives. And it's the responsibility of the Israeli government to
pursue political and yes, military policies to minimize or even end that
type of thing.
But the response to the event in some quarters defies all logic. Labor MK
Yuli Tamir said it was a mistake to build the Netzarim settlement, but we
can decide to change direction, i.e. close it down and move the people out.
Her colleague in Labor, MK Amram Mitzna, concurred. Israel, he said, "We
should have withdrawn from Netzarim yesterday and if that did not happen,
it should be left immediately." Another colleague, Labor MK Chaim Ramon,
echoing Mitzna, said that there was no moral, security or diplomatic utility
to remaining in the Gaza Strip. Labor party leader MK Shimon Peres, has suggested
for years that Netzarim be abandoned.
To the left of Labor, the ultra-dovish Meretz Party the following Sunday
filed a no-confidence motion against the government in light of the Netzarim
attack. Meretz MK Yossi Sarid called on IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon
to resign over the Netzarim attack. Meretz has for a long time been looking
for every opportunity to expel Jews from Gaza.
But the problems aren't limited to the opposition parties. Even members of
the government coalition are suggesting retreat. Interior Minister Avraham
Poraz -- of the Shinui Party -- told the cabinet that the residents of Netzarim
should be evacuated and the settlement turned into a military area, where
a small number of commando soldiers would be posted. He said that Israel
should not fully withdraw from Netzarim, as this would be interpreted as
surrender. His colleague in Shinui, MK Melli Polishuk-Bloch said that the
attack proved that the time has come to evacuate Netzarim, before the next
tragedy. And Shinui Party leader Yosef (Tommy) Lapid told the ministers at
the cabinet meeting that, "we must not award a prize to violence, but the
time has come for the government to hold a discussion on the future of Netzarim."
He said that there was a broad, public opposition to the Netzarim settlement
and it is thus not right that the government should continue to ignore the
public on this matter.
By such logic, there should never have been a State of Israel. After the
terrible slaughter of 6,000 Jews in the War of Independence in 1948 -- fully
one out of every ten Jews in Israel -- since the loss of life was so high,
Ben-Gurion and the other Zionist leaders should have re-thought the entire
Zionist enterprise and left the country. Auschwitz, here I come!
In fact, the early Jewish pioneers who gave so much of themselves, after
the 1921 Arab riots that killed dozens, should have called it quits and said
lets forget this "return to Zion" idea and just wait for the messiah. For
three soldiers -- precious souls that they were -- you close down an entire
Imagine, if Syria or Iran or Hamas or the Palestinian Authority itself lobs
a missile into Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv, will people like MKs Tamir, Mitzna,
et al. be calling to evacuate the city for good? Just give the Palestinians
what they want, huh?
Wait, did Yuli or Amram or Shimon find a nice Palestinian family to give
their home to, after the 1991 Gulf War missile attacks on Tel-Aviv? When
talking about the poor dis-placed Palestinians who need a "national" home,
do Leftists ever offer theirs? Has HaShomer HaTzair, the Marxist kibbutz
movement so much involved with Peace Now and Gush Shalom -- the Peace Bloc
-- offered to evacuate any of their over 35 kibbutzes, "settlements" they
built -- after the 1948 war -- on previously Arab occupied lands? That is,
land that according to the UN 1947 Partition Plan, was supposed to go to
the Arabs. No, these defeatists always are planning and scheming to give
someone else's home away to the poor Palestinians.
But those in the center and moderate left aren't the only perfidious fellow
travelers. Far-Left activists like former MK Yossi Beilin and Uri Avnery
of Gush Shalom are working hard -- independent of the attack on Netzarim
-- to give away to the Palestinians the 1967 liberated lands of Yesha, Judea
and Samaria -- the West Bank -- and Gaza. None of these people ever
offer their homes either.
Beilin with his ill-conceived "Geneva Agreement" -- which Palestinian leaders
like Nabil Shaath insist still recognizes the Palestinian "right of return"
despite Beilin's denial -- has been pledged $7 million by France and Belgium,
according to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The Geneva Agreement
envisions an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, with minor adjustments.
That means not just closing down a small community here or there, but the
Expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their ancestral homeland.
Yet, "moderate" Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia published an article in the PA daily Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida
back in December 1998 -- after the Wye summit -- stating that the borders
of the future independent Palestinian State are to be the boundaries set
by the 1947 Partition Plan, not 1967 in any case. The 1947 Partition Plan
doesn't even give Israel the city of Beer Sheva.
And in a September 1999 visit to China -- according to the newspaper Al-Ayyam
-- Qureia demanded the so-called "right of return" as a basic condition for
peace. "Either [we achieve] a just peace that will guarantee the legitimate
national rights of the Palestinian people, including [the] Return, self determination,
and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,
or there will be no peace, but a return to the struggle in all its forms."
Give us everything we want or else... If nothing else, the Palestinians are
There are some intellectually consistent positions free of perfidy floating
around Israel. For example, Meron Benvenisti -- researcher and former deputy
mayor of Jerusalem under Teddy Kollek -- recently was on Israel Television's
"Politica" voicing his opposition to Beilin's plan. Why, you ask? Because
Benvenisti has moved past solutions such as the Geneva Agreement. He said
he now supports a bi-national state, meaning, no more Israel. Benvenisti
said in reality there already is a bi-national state and since no agreement
with the Palestinians seems to be able to satisfy their needs... Well, at
least he's honest.
Oh yeh, there is one more possible position, fully consistent and honest.
Recently, the Torah portion of Bereshit -- at the beginning of the book of
Genesis -- was read in Synagogues around the world. There, Rashi - Rabbi
Shlomo Yitzhaki, the famous 11th century French Biblical and Talmudic commentator
-- in the beginning of Genesis, asks a question, "Why does the Torah start
with the story of creation? Since the Torah is a book of laws for the Jewish
People, why doesn't it begin with the first law given by G-D to the Jews,
the law for establishing a calendar?" He answers, that it starts with the
creation narrative to establish that G-D is the Master of the Universe. Then
Rashi says the most amazing thing that still resonates almost a thousand
years later. Based on earlier sources and a thorough knowledge of the meaning
of Judaism, Rashi says, "So, that if the nations come to Israel and say,
'you are thieves - in Hebrew, She-Kevash-Tem, you conquered and occupied
- the land from the nations living there,' you can tell them that all the
universe is G-D's, He created it and gave it to the nations, and when He
decided, He took it from them and gave it to us."
Three things become starkly clear today. First, that Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon not long ago used the same Hebrew root/term -- Kibush, occupation
-- as the Israeli Left has used for years to denigrate the miraculous victory
of the 1967 Six-Day War. It's the same term, "occupation," used by
most of the world in their criticism of Israeli policies in the "territories,"
The Israeli Prime Minister has adopted the language of the self-haters among
the Jews -- those disconnected from Jewish history and tradition -- and the
Judeo-paths among the nations. Sharon is misguided. Second, that Rashi's
explanation of the Torah has in fact come true. The nations today claim,
as Rashi explained they would, that we "stole" the land from others, namely
the Palestinians. And finally, that the only basis for the Jewish People's
national life in their homeland is G-D's promise as set down in the Bible,
not history, not security, but G-D's promise to their forefathers. Rashi
told the Jewish People to tell the world, "He took it from them and gave
it to us."
This position is as consistent as you can get. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
held it. Moses, Joshua and King David held it. Rabbi Hillel, Rabbi Akiva,
Maimonides and Rashi held it. The Jews slaughtered in the Crusades, Inquisition,
and many in the Holocaust, held it. For over 3,500 years Jews held it. The
early Zionist pioneers held it. Even people like David Ben-Gurion and Golda
Meir held it. That is, the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People, period.
If the Palestinians demand everything that they want, why can't Jews aspire
to hold onto their ancient homeland promised to them by G-D?
If Jews don't have a right to Netzarim or for that matter Hebron, then they
don't have a right to anywhere in Israel. Put another way, Avraham Avinu
-- Abraham our father -- never walked on Disengoff St. in Tel-Aviv... He,
his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob all lived in Hebron, check your bible.
So did King David, who ruled for seven years in Hebron, before moving his
capital city to Jerusalem. Abraham and Isaac also lived for a time in Gaza.
And people forget that Jewish communities flourished in Gaza for centuries,
until 20th century Arab pogroms decimated them.
So remember, the next time someone tells you that Israel should negotiate
with the Palestinians to give them land for a state, tell them, "He [G-D]
took it from them and gave it to us [the Jewish People]."
Why have a State of Israel at all? Because G-D wants us to, and who can argue with that?
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. His articles can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko.