It started when my daughter asked me, “Why do we say Israel is a country but nobody else does?” I started to explain that because the Arabs deny our right to a country, and because of the fear they imbue in the rest of the world that they will respond violently if they are not appeased, many people choose to discount or deny the existence of our country.
I remember when Monopoly made a world edition and encouraged people to vote for the cities to populate the spaces on the board. There was a whole to-do when they wrote, “Jerusalem, Israel” and they ended up keeping the countries for every other city, and listing Israel’s capital as simply, “Jerusalem.” With the backlash of negative publicity for this, they then removed the country names from the other ones as well. That aside, I explained to my daughter that it was pressure that made people deny us the right to our own country.
“Yeah,” she continued, “Because they say it’s just the State of Israel.” <grin> Grasping her confusion, I explained to her that the term State of Israel was not a diminution of its sovereignty, but the correct term. Even though America is a country made up of states, Israel is not relegated to the lower level status and the term State of Israel means Country of Israel.
It got me to thinking though. Why is it that the Arabs can’t stand the idea of a Jewish homeland? Why would they rather die than see us have a country, even if they had one of their own? The answer lies in this week’s Parsha.
In Parshas Devarim (Deuteronomy 2:5) we are told that we will not inherit Mt. Se’ir, for that land was given to Esav’s descendants as an inheritance. In 2:9, we are told a similar thing about Moav, and in 2:19 about Ammon, for their lands were given to the children of Lot (Avraham’s nephew) as an inheritance. Notice something missing?
That’s right, there is no mention of an inheritance of land in Canaan/Israel for the children of Avraham’s son Yishmael (i.e. the Arabs.) The Torah specifically tells us that Avraham gave all his possessions to Yitzchak and gave “gifts” to the children of Hagar. HaShem upheld the word of this tzaddik and did not give any land to the Arabs. In other words, a one-state solution!
The truth is that the Arabs do NOT have a claim to the land of Israel and they know it. Though there might be a place for the Palestinians outside the biblical borders of the land of Israel, the fact that they, of all Avraham’s family, were denied a portion makes them angry beyond words.
“If I can’t have it, no one can” is common among people who are petty and I think that’s what we’re seeing here. They figure that if they can’t have a piece of the jewel that is Eretz Yisrael, then we shouldn’t either, despite the fact that they are going against the wishes of their own venerated grandfather Ibrahim.
Want to know something else? In Devarim 2:23, we are told that the residents of Gaza, a Philistine tribe, were conquered and kicked out of the land by the Caphtorim, and they are not the original settlers of the land, with whom Avraham made a treaty. Rashi tells us (1000 years ago!) that this was done so that the Jews would be unfettered by Avraham’s pact and free to take over that land as well.
So let’s recap: Avraham’s nephew and grandson were given land in the area of Israel, but his son Yishmael was not, because Avraham didn’t want him to have one. The area of Gaza, which would have been prohibited for the Jews to occupy/conquer because they venerate the word of Avraham and would not go against his wishes, was conquered by someone else so the Jews were, in fact, free to take it over.
Flash forward to today when the inhabitants of Gaza and people calling themselves Palestinians, who come from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab lands, are fighting to the death over something that goes against Avraham’s wishes despite what they claim about him, and they themselves are carpetbaggers who are only recently arrived on the scene.
The Torah said it clearly: The Jews have a right to Israel, and the Arab children of Yishmael have no claim. They only clamor for it because we have it and they are jealous. Jealous of our success in the land, and jealous of our relationship with the loving G-d Who gave it to Avraham and, in turn, to us.