By Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson
How could intelligent people say, "in the end Israel will have to return to
the negotiations table?" Israel has been negotiating land for peace for years
now; it has given the Arabs virtual control over 90 percent of the territories.
What has it brought Jews?
A Time for Moral Clarity
It is about time that we put an end to the moral ambiguity
that has allowed terrorism to rear its ugly head in Israel and in the United
States. It is true that you sound more sophisticated and open minded when you
can talk about the validity of "both sides" in the conflict. Yet, for 4,000
years our faith has taught us that the preservation of human life is the most
sacred ideal in life. In order to stop the bloodshed, we must teach moral
clarity and decisiveness.
In this spirit, I want to respond to some of the painful
questions people of goodwill are asking today.
Question: Why canít Israel just withdraw to its pre-1967
borders and put an end to the present conflict?
Answer: The present conflict between Israel and the Arabs
has absolutely nothing to do with any occupation. Consider the following facts:
1) The Palestinian Liberation Organization, known today as
The Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964 at a time when the "occupied
territories" were under Jordanian control. There was not one Jewish settlement
in the territories, nor any Jewish "occupation." Yet the charter of the PLO from
1964 till this very day states as its goal "the destruction of Israel."
2) What compelled Israel in 1967 to capture the territories?
Five Arab countries - Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon joined by Saudi
Arabia - contrived a plan to annihilate Israel and "drive the Jews into the
sea." Israel fought back and won the war -and the territories from which they
Israel never sought to occupy either the West Bank or Gaza.
The war which brought about the "occupation" was thrust upon Israel. Yet this
crucial point is almost never conveyed in the international and American press.
Keep in mind that in 1967 the Arabs controlled 99.9 percent
of the Middle East lands. Israel represented less than one-tenth of 1 percent of
the land mass. But even that was too much for the Arabs. They wanted it all. No
matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.
3) During the summer of 2000 at Camp David, Yasser Arafat was
offered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak 98 percent of the "occupied
territories" and a first time ever Palestinian state with its capital in East
Jerusalem. Arafat rejected the Israeli offer and initiated 20 months of
bloodshed in Israel.
The widespread notion that the daily murders of Jews in
Israel has anything to do with the "occupied territories" is a myth. The
territories are merely being used as a justification to exterminate Jews and
destroy their land.
Question: Still, why canít Israel demonstrate goodwill by
putting an end to the "occupation" and declaring Palestinian statehood? This
would foster hope and put an end to the psychology of violence.
Answer: For one to demand this gesture from Israel one
needs to be either foolish or cruel. It is akin to demanding that a person with
cancer give his malignant tumor uncontrolled rein in one part of his body. Such
a "gesture" would secure his death.
Arab terror, just like the terror we experienced on 9/11, is
a cancer. Yasser Arafat and the thousands of fighters in the territories are not
opposing Israelís right to a particular piece of land. They donít recognize
Israelís right to any of the land. They do not recognize Israelís right to
exist.To make peace with cancer is an act of war; to declare war against cancer
is an act of peace.
The creation of a Palestinian state would be a tragedy for
innocent people throughout the region, Jews and Arabs alike. You donít give a
state to people who want to see your children burned alive and your teenagers
blown to pieces. Such people you destroy. If not, they will destroy you and
thousands of more innocent people the world over.
The very negotiations about a "Palestinian state" are
dangerous. It is these types of negotiations that have granted legitimacy to
terrorists and have encouraged them to continue on their path of destruction.
How could intelligent people say, "in the end Israel will
have to return to the negotiations table?" Israel has been negotiating land for
peace for years now; it has given the Arabs virtual control over 90 percent of
the territories. What has it brought Jews? Blood, blood and more blood. Clearly,
another solution must be sought.
Question: What about the moral injustice of occupation?
How could Israel hold on to the homeland of another nation, the Palestinian
Answer: To call Israel occupiers of the West Bank, Gaza
and Eastern Jerusalem is akin to calling the U.S. occupiers of New Jersey.
First and foremost, the Bible - a book embraced by billions
of Muslims and Christians as the word of G-d - states clearly that the entire
country, including the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, is G-dís eternal gift to
the Jewish people. Read the Bible and draw your own conclusion.
The American people are a moral people who bow their heads
before truth. It is about time that Jews begin stating the truth without shame:
"Israel is occupying nothing but its own land; the Creator and Master of the
entire world gave this land to the Jews."
Second, the entire concept of a "Palestinian people fighting
for their ancient homeland occupied by the Jews," is nothing short of a lie, a
myth that has become an accepted truth in the American press.
Let us reflect on some history:
Israel became a nation in 1312 B.C.E., 2,000 years before the
birth of Islam. Forty years later, in 1272 B.C.E. the Jews conquered Eretz
Israel and enjoyed dominion over the land for a thousand years. Even after the
Babylonians and then the Romans put an end to the Jewish sovereignty, Jews
continued to reside there throughout all of their history. In short, the Jews
have had a continuous presence in the land of Israel for the past 3,300 years.
What about the "Palestinian people"? Israel did not seize the
West Bank and Old Jerusalem from a "Palestinian nation." Such a nation never
existed in the history of mankind. Israel captured these territories from
Jordanís King Hussein and the Gaza Strip from Egypt after they declared war
against the Jewish state. It was only in 1967, following the Six-day War that
Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a "Palestinian
people." One canít help but wonder why all these Palestinians suddenly
discovered their national identity after Israel won the war but not during the
The answer to this enigma is that there has never been a land
known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are regular Arabs,
indistinguishable from Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Egyptians, etc.,
who have all lived for hundreds of years under Turkish rule, and then, after
World War I, under British rule. There is no language known as Palestinian.
There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There is no such an entity as a
The first time the name Palestine was used was in 70 C.E.
when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and
declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised,
it would be known as Palestine. This region was ruled alternately by Rome, by
Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, after World War I,
by the British.
(The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian
people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to
add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia
Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.)
Mark Twain took a tour of Palestine in 1867. This is how he
described that land: "A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given
over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on
the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and
the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the
Where was this great Palestinian nation? It did not exist. It
was not there. Palestine was a region under the control of Turkey.
Many people are unaware that Saudi Arabia was not created
until 1913, Lebanon until 1920. Iraq did not exist as a nation until 1932, Syria
until 1941. The borders of Jordan were established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961.
To state that Israel "robbed" the Palestinian people from their homeland is
simply not true.
Question: How can Israel justify the suffering of so many
innocent Arabs in the territories?
Answer: Every decent human heart goes out to the pain of
innocent Arab children, women and men. Their suffering should evoke the
compassion of all moral men. But let us be clear on the matter: Their suffering
has absolutely nothing to do with Israel. Their profound agony is the result of
the Arab and Palestinian leaders who have in a most cynical way used them as
weapons in their bloody battle against Israel, robbing them from any prospect of
a brighter future.
This abuse of the Arab refugees by their leaders began back
in 1948. The refugees were encouraged by Arab leaders to leave Israel, promising
to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left their homes without ever
seeing an Israeli soldier.
Out of the 100 million refugees after World War II, theirs is
the only refugee group in the world that was not absorbed or integrated into
their own peoplesí lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel,
a country no larger than the state of New Jersey. Yet the Arab refugees were
intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled,
despite the vast Arab territory. Why? Because cynical Arab leaders realized that
the true value of the refugees was not as Arab brothers but as pawns to be used
Question: Koffi Annan, the Secretary General of the
United Nations stated recently: "Is it possible that Israel is right and the
whole world is wrong?"
Answer: Let us not be ashamed to respond to Mr. Anan: You
bet your life itís possible! It is true now and itís always been true. Abraham
gave the world ethical monotheism and the whole world fought him. Moses taught
the world individual freedom and universal morality and the worldís super-power
was against him. Just 60 years ago the entire world watched in silence as 1.5
million Jewish children went up in smoke. Was the whole world right then, too?
Universal morality and the value of life was the Jewish gift
to the world. At a time when the whole world was accustomed to slaughtering
children to the pagan gods, the Jewish people, alone in a hostile world,
declared the word of G-d, "Thou shall not kill."
Mr. Annan, if we had listened to the world then, murder today
would be legal. If we listen to the world now, terrorism tomorrow will become
How cynical, how cruel it is to accuse Israel of the massacre
of civilians. The entire culture of the Jewish state is based on the value of
every single human life. Israel has always sacrificed its children in order to
secure the safety of civilians. Israel restrained itself for years in the
territories despite ongoing killings of Jewish children, women and men.
In the history of the Jewish state, how many Jewish suicide
bombers have blown themselves up in Arab communities?
How many Arab buses were blown up by Jews?
How many Arab pizza parlors, malls, discotheques and
restaurants were destroyed by Jewish terrorists?
How many airplanes have been hijacked by Jews?
How many Ramadan feasts were targeted by Jewish bombs?
How many Arabs have been lynched in Israeli cities, or Arab
Olympic athletes murdered by Jews? How many Arab embassies have been bombed by
How many mosques, cemeteries and religious schools were fire
bombed or desecrated by Jews in North Africa, France, Belgium, Germany, England
or any other country?
How many Jewish schools contain books claiming that Arabs
poison wells, use Christian blood to bake pita, control world finance and are
the work of the devil? How many claim that Arab elders meet secretly to plot a
And now, the Arabs have the chutzpah to accuse Israel of
massacre! And the entire world follows suit? Shame on you Mr. Annan!
Question: The Arabs claim that they are fighting against
the brutal Israeli occupation, which has stripped them from their dignity and
Answer: It would be foolish to claim that "Israel never
did any wrong" to Arabs living throughout the territories. Of course, Israel has
made errors. Yet the fact remains that the Arabs living under Israeli rule
enjoyed more civil rights than Arabs living in almost any Arab state. The Arab
press in the West Bank has been among the liveliest and freest in the Arab
world, and it routinely attacks its "occupier."
When was the last time a Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan or Saudi
publicly attacked one of his or her leaders?
Question: So, what is the solution to the conflict?
Answer: As long as the status of the entire country
remains ambiguous, the terror campaign against Israel will continue. Israel
should stand up and put an end to the ambivalence around Jewish ownership of the
land. Israel must state clearly that "There will be no more negotiations on even
a single inch of the land of Israel. We have attempted to negotiate land for
peace with our neighbors; we have offered them 98 percent of the territories and
an independent state side-by-side with our state. Yet they have reciprocated by
sending suicide bombers to our pizza shops, cafťs, supermarkets and streets.
They have blown to pieces hundreds of innocent Jewish men and women. One cannot
give land to leaders who have taught their people to celebrate Jewish death."
Israel should allow anybody who wishes to depart for another
country to do so. Then it should go in and reclaim its permanent sovereignty
over all of the territories. This will save not only countless Jewish lives, but
also scores of Arab lives. It will once and for all purge the region from
continuous bloodshed and terror.
Israelís withdrawal last week from many of the terror-loaded
territories due to the intense world pressure was foolish. Politics superseded
security; morality was defeated by fear. To demand Israelís withdrawal is
similar to one demanding from a surgeon to stop the surgery before finishing
because the sight of blood is repulsive. The short-term cover-up of the terror
nests will only allow the long-term blossoming of the terror organizations.
The best way to bring about genuine peace in the Arab-Israeli
war is by Israel putting an end to any future negotiations on the land. Israel
must assume full security and military control over all of the territories under
the united banner of a single country, Eretz Israel.
This is not an occupation. It is the land of Israel, given by
G-d to the Jewish people. The Arabs who wish to desist from killing Jews will
enjoy cultural and religious freedom, civil rights, gender equality and freedom
of expression, privileges most of them have never experienced in their own
countries. Those who cannot tolerate living under a united Jewish country should
be welcomed to emigrate.
All other suggested paths are merely romantic delusions that
will bring continued grief to innocent Jews and Arabs. Let all Jews and people
of moral standing unite and encourage Israel in its campaign to bring life and
peace to all good people in the region, Jew and Arab.