The Jewish Position On The Jewish Possession
By Alexander Zushe Kohn

Scenario 1: You’re flying to who-knows-where and your seat on the airplane happens to be the one in the center. On either side of you sits a non-Jew who every now and then takes a fleeting glance at your tzitzis, wondering what "magical powers" they might possess. About a half-hour into the flight, one of the gentiles can no longer contain himself and politely asks you to explain the significance of the strings. One point leads to another, and you soon find yourself deeply involved in a discussion about religion with your two neighbors. Inevitably, the issue of Eretz Yisroel makes it’s way into the conversation, and your co-conversationalists expectantly await your explanation of why Israel can’t at least split the Land with the (so-called) Palestinians, and allow them to establish a state and homeland. After all, they were there first. The Jews simply came along in 1948 and took it away!

Scenario 2: 50,000 Jews, are gathered in a prominent Manhattan location, demonstrating against the Israeli government’s land concessions, and you are asked to step up to the podium and address the large crowd. You have 3 minutes to tell the glaring television cameras why the Jewish people cannot and must not give away even an inch of land to the Palestinians.

Scenario 3: All those mornings on the phone with various and sundry politicians, have finally paid off. You are now sitting in the comfortable office of a high ranking, U.S. government official, and he’s ready to hear your arguments as to why the U.S. must not be a mediator in the transfer of Israeli land to the Palestinians.

What are you going to say?

Here are 2 possibilities:

Possibility 1, (the pikuach nefesh argument): "The giving away of parts of Eretz Yisroel to the Palestinians, is a serious threat to the security of the Jewish People. The Palestinians have made no secret of their intentions to ultimately drive the Jews entirely out of what they call Palestine. They have stated both privately and publicly that they have no intention whatsoever of coexisting peacefully with the Jewish People. Arafat and his henchmen continually carry out horrific acts of terror against our innocent civilians. Moreover, they are now using the very weapons given to them by Israel against the Jews. Etc., etc..."

Possibility 2: "The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. G-d gave it to us, as the Bible, which Christians and Moslems also consider to be sacred, clearly states. Therefore, under no circumstances will we give away any part of it. Period."

* * *

The Rebbe strongly emphasizes and elaborates upon both of the above-mentioned positions – but in very different contexts. We need to be careful not to confuse the two.

To explain: Pikuach nefesh (i.e., security concern), is the reason why the Torah forbids us as Jews, who know that the Land of Israel is ours, to give away parts of it. In other words, according to the Torah, giving parts of Eretz Yisroel to non-Jews is in itself such a serious and immediate security breach that it overrides any possible long-term peace agreement, even if such an agreement would be a realistic prospect. How much more so is giving away land forbidden in our case, in which Arafat and company are bent on nothing less than the total expulsion of any and all Jews from the entire land.

However, notwithstanding the severity and import of the pikuach nefesh aspect, it remains a message directed at Jews (to awaken them to the grim consequences of violating the Torah and its perspective on security). It is not the message we are trying to convey to non-Jews. What the gentile needs to hear from the Jew is, "this land is mine; G-d gave it to me." This assertion puts the whole issue into an entirely different light. Moreover, it turns the tables on the non-Jew, in effect demanding of him an explanation as to how he dares to steal (or assist in the stealing of) something that by his own admission belongs to others.

Attempting to justify our presence in the Land of Israel with the argument (heart-wrenching as it may be) of pikuach nefesh, only serves to weaken our claim in the eyes of the non-Jews. Defending your right to retain that which belongs to you is ridiculous. Imagine standing in court before a judge, presenting your title-deed as proof of ownership, and then saying, "...and also, your honor, if I give my house to the plaintiff, where will I live?" When you present your title deed – in this case the Torah – additional explanations and justifications are not merely superfluous, they actually cause harm by giving the impression that you are not thoroughly convinced of your ownership.

So the next time you present a gentile with your ‘stand on the Land,’ be a proud Jew and say it the way it is: "G-d give us the land. Period. No ifs ands or buts.

May we merit to experience the full revelation of the true and complete Redemption, in which the borders of Eretz Yisroel will expand to include Keini, K’nizi, and Kadmoni – now!


What the gentile needs to hear from the Jew is, “this land is mine; G-d gave it to me.” This assertion puts the whole issue into an entirely different light.


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