For thousands of years, the Jewish people remembered Zion and God’s promise that that they would eventually return to their homeland there (Genesis 15:18). Whether one believes the Bible or not, it is an uncontested fact that Jews have prayed for the return to Jerusalem for millennia: By the rivers of Babylon… If I forget thee O Jerusalem… (Psalm 137).
Israel’s Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel in 1948 was a partial fulfillment of the promise. The Six Day War of 1967 was the necessary fulfillment of the promise, when Jews regained control, after 2,000 years, of their homeland in the hill country of Judea and Samaria.
What did this momentous achievement mean for Jews worldwide, Israelis, world governments, and the Arab inhabitants (who soon named themselves “Palestinians”). For Jews, especially religious Jews, their prayers to return to Zion had been answered. While the cities of the coastal plain, Haifa, Caesarea, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Petak Tikva, Rishon LeZion, Ashdod, and Ashkelon were wonderful, they were not our ancestors’ homeland.
The Jews of antiquity didn’t live in Tel Aviv (founded 1909) on the Mediterranean coast, but in the mountains of Judea and Samaria, as well as the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan Heights, and beyond. So, by liberating the Golan, Judea, and Samaria, Israel regained its homeland, where Jew flourished even after the Roman conquests of the early 1st millennium. Jews are the indigenous people of the land, not the “Palestinians.”
For the Jews of Israel, the total victory of 1967 was a thunderclap. In the first place, Jerusalem was no longer divided. For 3,000 years, Jerusalem had either been the capital of the Jews in reality, or virtually in their collective memory. The 19-year occupation of parts of Jerusalem by Jordan (1948-1967) had caused a huge rent in the Jewish soul. While the Jewish population of Jerusalem in the modern age had been the majority since the mid-19th century, the city had always been polyglot, with a variety of cultures, races, and religions. There was never a division dividing Jerusalem into disparate parts, although the Romans temporarily destroyed the city to spite the rebellious Jews.
The Jordanian occupation had not only kept Jews from their holiest sites on the Temple Mount, it doomed the Arabs ruled by Jordan to deprivation, a lack of development, and a status so low that the only Arab ruler to visit during that period was King Abdullah I of Jordan, who was assassinated in 1951 by a Palestinian Arab on the Temple Mount.
Immediately after the 1967 war, Israel (mistakenly, in my opinion) tried to give up most of Judea and Samaria for “peace.” Because their goal has always been the elimination of the Jews and Israel – not an accommodation with the Jewish state – the Arabs weren’t interested. They adamantly answered Israeli peace entreaties with the Khartoum Resolution, the “Three No’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel …”
Gradually, Israel’s Labor Party government, which had ruled Israel since 1948, allowed settlements to be built beyond the 1949 Armistice Line, due to frustration with the Arab refusal to negotiate, security reasons, and pressure from zealous Jews. Religious and secular Jewish Israelis were happy to live in government sanctioned communities for spiritual and/or economic reasons, such as subsidized housing and other perks. Today, the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria (including parts of Jerusalem beyond the 1949 Armistice Line) is a higher percentage of the population (25% or more) than the Muslim population (20%) of Israel.
There’s no doubt that the majority of Palestinian Arabs do not want to “live side by side in peace with Israel,” as evidenced by poll after poll. However, many, if not most Israeli Arabs appreciate the benefits of the great Israeli enterprise, which affords them human rights, civil rights, and prosperity beyond what they would receive in any Arab country. While “peace” remains a distant dream, the status quo remains the best option, until such time as one of many possible solutions (probably not the 2-state solution) comes to fruition.
The biggest impediment to a solution between the Jews and the Arabs is the attitude of most of the world governments. They judge the conflict to be over land, while it is actually an ingrained religious conflict. “Land for Peace” will never work.
Illustrating the global misperception of this conflict, in October, 2016, “The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) passed an absurd resolution, denying the ancient Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s holy sites. The resolution, initiated by the Palestinians, states that the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site, where the First and Second Holy Temples stood – is holy only to Muslims.” (worldisraelnews.com) What more can be said of such diplomatic myopia?
The Six Day War did not result in the loss of Israelis’ souls, as some critics proclaim. Nor did it result in the Jews’ occupation of the West Bank, which is the post-Six Day War name given to Judea and Samaria by the Jordanians. The Israelis have liberated their homeland, not occupied Arab land. Israel is deserving of support, a beacon of democracy in its region, and a country that deserves praise, not condemnation.
The truth is that Jews can never “occupy” their homeland. It is ours by right: religious, historical, spiritual, military, legal – take your pick. Unlike other armies, the Israelis did not exile the Palestinian Arab inhabitants from their homes, except in exigent, rare circumstances. The Arabs themselves chose to become refugees, even within the Palestinian Authority and in Gaza. This is unprecedented. To use their terminology, why are there Palestinian “refugees” living in Palestinian areas of control?
50 years is long enough for the world and the Arabs to come to grips with Israel’s reclaiming its own land. The onus is on the Arabs to reconcile themselves to Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. If not, economically weakened by the huge increase in oil supply beyond the Middle East, the Arabs will not be able to reverse their downward spiral. Just two decades ago, 200,000 Arabs were killed in the Algerian civil war. More are dying in North Africa, Iraq, and Yemen right now. 500,000 Arabs (and other nationalities) have died in Syria – so far. As Israel celebrates its 69th Independence Day, it’s past time for the world to stop pressuring Israel to withdraw from its homeland.
In forthcoming articles, the Balfour Declaration, the Western refusal to recognize Arab dysfunction, and the incredible success of Israel will be examined.