Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Jewish Response to Arab Terror

As peace talks are set to begin shortly in Washington, Palestinian terrorists have struck again. In a cold-blooded attack, terrorists opened fire on a Israeli vehicle outside of Kiryat Arbah, murdering two men and two women. Even as the Palestinian leadership is about to sit dawn and supposedly discuss peace with their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian citizens are carrying out murderous attacks against innocent Jewish men, women and children.

This murder is but another demonstration of the uselessness of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. A treaty with the Palestinians is not worth the paper that it is printed on. While Abbas' sincerity to the cause of peace has yet to be proven, his mandate to represent the Palestinian people expired in January 2009. Hamas, ever-committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, remains the most popular movement among Palestinians. The most fundamental tenet of Palestinian society is opposition to Zionism and Jewish self-determination. That is why no Palestinian leader can acknowledge Jewish roots in the Land of Israel. That is why Palestinian television continues to refer to Haifa, Lod and Ramle as "occupied cities". That is why Mahmoud Abbas had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the negotiating table, waiting until Bibi's 10 month freeze on settlement construction is about to expire.

As always, the Palestinian goal remains the same: the eradication of "the Zionist entity" and the "liberation of Palestine". While Hamas prefers the direct approach whereas Fatah's strategy is that of the piecemeal "Phased Plan", the ultimate aim is identical. Every Israeli concession brings a new round of Palestinian terror and increased demands. Disengagement from Gaza brought thousands of rockets upon the south of Israel. Freezing Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria only whets the Arab appetite for Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.

The Palestinians feel that time is on their side. Many Israelis are tired of this seemingly endless conflict and would do almost anything to bring it to an end. If only one more concession will make the Palestinians happy, then so be it- even if that concession means relinquishing control of Israel's most sacred and meaningful sites: Hebron, Shechem, Bethlehem, Beit El, Shiloh, etc.

For the past 10 months, Israel has imposed a moratorium on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria. The freeze is set to expire in September, yet it seems that Bibi, despite intense pressure from his on party, will renew it in order not to arouse the ire of the Americans and the Arabs. The true Jewish response to today's murders would be to immediately lift the freeze and to begin Jewish construction in all parts of the Land of Israel. Such a response would send the clear message that the Jewish return to Zion is not simply a transitory movement but that the Jewish people intend to stay in their homeland. Renewed Jewish building around the graves and homes of its forefathers would make it abundantly clear as to the true owners of the Land of Israel.

Retreat from Hebron means retreat from Jerusalem. Retreat from Jerusalem means retreat from Tel-Aviv. Retreat from Tel-Aviv means retreat into the sea, or at least back into Galut. If we cannot raise our flag in Shechem, the burial place of Joseph on land legally purchased by our forefather Jacob over 3500 years ago, or in Shiloh, the seat of the Tabernacle and religious center of the Jewish people for hundreds of years, how can we claim Tel-Aviv, which is only a century old?

The answer to Palestinian terror is renewed commitment and dedication to the Land of Israel. For every Jew murdered, ten new villages should spring up in the hilltops of Judea and Samaria. We pray that HaShem comfort the victims' families among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and through their deaths, we should be inspired to continue rebuilding Zion and Jerusalem.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Case Against Palestinian Statehood

As renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians get underway, the United States has already assured Mahmoud Abbas of the establishment of a Palestinian state within a years time. Barack Obama, as well as the European Union and other world figures have stated that should talks fail, they would support a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. While these talks have not even begun, their aim is clear: the creation of a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel. Unfortunately, Israel's leaders do not have the courage to reject this most dangerous goal. Anyone who dares oppose the "two-state solution" mantra is maligned as rejectionist and an obstacle to peace. Despite this, it is essential for all those who care about Israel to explain why a Palestinian state is a historic travesty and will only serve to exacerbate the conflict, rather than end it.

The basic borders of the Palestinian state as envisioned by the leaders of the United States and the European Union are the territories liberated by Israel from Egypt and Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War, Judea and Samaria with its capital in the eastern half of Jerusalem. The major problem with this vision is that there is nothing particularly Arab or Palestinian about these lands. In fact, never have any of these territories (or any territories ever) been under the rule of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state. If one would search the history books, they would discover that there has never been such a country or political entity. As well, the notion of a unique and distinct Palestinian nation is one that is very recent, having its origins in the 1920s and gaining widespread acceptance in the 1960s. That means that Palestinian nationhood is only at maximum 80 or so years old while the drive for Palestinian statehood barely over 40. On the other hand, Judea and Samaria (and of course Jerusalem) form the heartland of the Jewish people's home in the land of Israel. In Judea and Samaria, one finds the Tomb of the Patriarch in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, the ancient burial places of founders of the Jewish people. One finds Hebron, the original seat of Jewish kingship, Shiloh, the centre of Jewish religious and spiritual life for centuries, Beit El, the site of the Patriach Jacob's famous dream and Shechem (Nablus), purchased by Jacob and burial place of his son Joseph. The Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria goes back three and a half millennia and remains unbroken, except for brief periods of persecution and oppression when Jews were forced from their land. According to simple logic, a history that goes back 3500 years trumps one that does not extend past a few decades.

As Israel currently stands, from the Mediterranean Sea until the Jordan River, it takes an enemy aircraft less than 5 minutes to cross the entire breadth of the country. If Israel were to retreat any further to the indefensible pre-67 borders, that would put every single major Israel city within rocket range. It is not for nothing that Israeli diplomat, Abba Eban, a dove if there ever was one, referred to these borders as "the Auschwitz lines". As the tragic Israeli Disengagement from Gaza testified, Israeli concession bring renewed Arab aggression. The situation in Sderot in which kids go to school in bomb shelters and playgrounds and bus stops are made from reinforced concrete to provide protection from rockets, would be repeated in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheva. Incoming and outgoing flights at Ben-Gurion Airport would be at the mercy of Palestinian terrorists sitting in the Judea highlands.

The goal of the Palestinians has always been and remains the destruction of the State of Israel. The Fatah Charter spells this out very clearly. Article 12 states the goals as: "Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence. " The Charter has never been revised. In 1974, Fatah, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, adopted the "Phased Plan" strategy which said that any territory "liberated" from Israel would be used as a Palestinian base of operation to continue to carry out attacks against Israel. A Palestinian state would be used to advance this strategy which has its ultimate aim in the total annihilation of the Jewish state. No Palestinian leader, despite moderate statements to Western media or diplomats, has renounced this goal.

A Palestinian state would be a historic travesty. History testifies that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Jewish land and have never been under the control of Palestinian Arabs. Furthermore, a Palestinian state would only serve to renew hope that Israel will soon be eliminated and all of "Palestine" will be "reunited". By retreating to the pre-1967 borders, Israel's security and ability to defend itself will be compromised. A peace that comes through the destruction of the Jewish state is a peace that is simply not acceptable.