The Jewish Position
On The Jewish Possession
By Alexander Zushe Kohn
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!
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
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.
are you going to say?
are 2 possibilities:
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.,
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!