The days during the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are days of soul-searching, in which the Jewish nation is obliged to correct the sins that led to the churban (destruction). In view of the government’s inadequacy in dealing with Hamas, such soul-searching is especially called for.
Indeed, the two fundamental sins which occurred on the 17th of Tammuz still require correction. Today, the continuation of the Sin of the Golden Calf, which led to the breaking of the Tablets of the Law, is the delusional vision of “peace”. And the continuation of the sin of placing an idol in the Holy Temple which led to its destruction is the “religion” of democracy, which maintains that granting equal rights to all people is the supreme value, upon whose altar the lives of individuals and nations should be sacrificed.
The coupling of these two mistaken beliefs is what leads the Israeli left to support the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is also tainted by this concept, and as long as he does not renounce it, he will not be able to achieve victory over Hamas.
Who is the Logical One?
There are leftists who have the nerve to claim that their position is the rational one, whereas the right-wing position is based on religion and faith, and thus, irrational and impractical.
However, Jewish history has thus far proved that the Torah’s position was the most logical, but due to our sins, we did not act according to the Torah’s instructions, and were exiled from our Land.
In modern times as well, we did not act according to the Torah. When the gates of the Land of Israel were opened, many Jews failed to fulfill the Torah mitzvah of immigrating to Israel, and chose to remain in exile; their fate was the Holocaust, Communist decrees, and assimilation. On the other side of the coin, the majority of the secular Zionist leadership did not follow the Torah, and relinquished Transjordan and Judea and Samaria. And with regards to the Arab citizens of the country, they did not attempt to deal with them according to the principles of the laws of ger toshav (resident alien). In accordance with these principles, non-Jews who fulfill the Seven Noahide laws and recognize Israel’s sovereignty over its land can live together with us in dignity. And those who do not, we should try to remove from the country according to internationally accepted methods, as we could have done immediately after the Six Day War. Today as well, we have the ability to encourage gradual migration to other countries.
Questions for a Sane Leftist (hoping there is such a thing)
If there are leftists who are willing to contemplate the future rationally, they are invited to address a few questions I will present in a number of areas:
Morality or Rights
Do you support the establishment of a Palestinian state because, in your opinion, you believe that all Arabs should be given equal, democratic rights, or because you want their lives to be as best as possible (employment, individual freedom, religious and national expression)?
In other words, if you knew that in a Palestinian state within a few years a secular dictator like Saddam Hussein would arise, or a religious ruler like Khomeini or Hamas who would suppress the people and violate their individual rights, would you still support the establishment of a Palestinian state?
If, in such a situation, you would not support the establishment of a Palestinian state, what would you think if you knew that the chances of dictatorial regime taking power in such a state were fifty percent?
To illustrate this point, a similar question can be asked: Western countries imposed various types of boycotts on South Africa to force her to grant equal rights to the black population. Twenty years ago, the white regime in South Africa succumbed and gave the blacks equal rights; consequently, the blacks came to power and scrapped the previous administrations’ policies. During these twenty years, the average life expectancy in South Africa fell approximately fifteen years, from 64.5 years, to 49.5 (with the decrease among the blacks even greater). If the Western countries knew in advance about the expected heavy price in human life and welfare, would they have pressured South Africa to immediately grant equal rights to the blacks even then? Or perhaps they might have sought to implement an extended, gradual process working up to the granting of equal rights – despite this violating the sanctity of the principle of equality?
You claim that all people have the right to self-determination, including the right to national sovereignty, and for that reason, the establishment of a Palestinian state is just and moral.
Apart from the basic question of how to define a nation – for, by any objective criterion, Israeli Arabs do not deserve to be considered a nation – it is essential to clarify: Who has the right to self-determination – all Arabs in the Middle East, or all Arabs residing between the Jordan and Mediterranean Sea? Or perhaps a distinction should be made between the Arabs of ’48, and the Arabs of ’67?
If you support the establishment of a Palestinian state for the ’67 Arabs (residents of Judea and Samaria), will they have the right to demand unification with the Arabs of the Middle East on the basis of their national rights? And will the Arabs of the Middle East have the moral right to gain control over the Palestinian state, as part of an Islamic or Arabic caliphate?
Also, as far as national rights are concerned, are the Arabs of the Galilee also allowed to demand national rights, or to merge with the Palestinian state? If not – what is the moral justification for preventing them?
Surely, a leftist would answer that it is the prerogative of Arab residents to decide what their national rights will be, and since they are presently demanding a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, this is what the State of Israel is obligated to grant them. However, the fundamental question is crucial, because chances are, if the Arabs are given a state in Judea and Samaria, after a year or two they will argue their national rights also apply to Arabs in the Galilee and the Triangle, and some Arabs will even claim that national rights includes all Middle East Arabs.
National Rights in Terms of Demography
As a leftist, you most certainly think and believe that there are two and a half million Arabs living in Judea and Samaria. What would you say if you discovered there are only a million and a half, as many distinguished researchers from the right claim? Would you still believe they are entitled to a state? And what would you say if they number only a million (and there’s a good chance we can achieve this by encouraging voluntary migration)?
To put it differently: How many Arabs must there be in order for them to demand a state? And another important question: In your opinion, how many people (settlers) can be justifiably expelled in order to grant a state to a million and a quarter Arabs?
A further question: If it turns out that the demographic process is not as the left customarily believes it to be, but rather, the number of Arabs in Israel does not grow significantly in the future, while the Jewish population does grow quite rapidly (thanks to a high birthrate and aliyah), so that within a generation the Jewish population and those who identify with us will number over 75% between the Mediterranean and the Jordan (including the Gaza Strip) – would you change your mind?
If you are a rational person, would you not agree that there is a further need to check the numerical data and the demographic process more thoroughly and accurately, and not to rely on conventional demographic beliefs which over the years were discovered to always be mistaken?
As a rational leftist, what do you think is the danger that if a Palestinian state is established, it will merge with other enemy countries and initiate a war against Israel? If you knew that the prospect this will happen within twenty years is greater than fifty percent, would you still support the establishment of a Palestinian state?
What do you think the probability is that from within the areas of a Palestinian state, rockets will be fired on all Israeli cities similar to what has happened in recent years in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip? If the danger is greater than fifty percent, would you still support the establishment of a Palestinian state? If so, at what risk level would you oppose its establishment?
Security and Demography
As a rational leftist, what do you think the chances are that a Palestinian state will absorb four to six million additional Arabs, funded by UNRWA and other Arab countries?
What do you think the chances are that a Palestinian state, with eight million citizens in Judea and Samaria, will continue to demand from the State of Israel compensation for its “refugees”, and the “right of return”? In your opinion, what are the chances that marches of tens of thousands of starving women and children will climb the fences of the State of Israel? Do you think there will be a way to stop them without committing a mass murder?
What are the chances that this will lead to a cruel and prolonged war, at higher and lower degrees of intensity? Can the results of such a war be better than our present situation?
The Torah is Position is the Logical One
It seems that after outlining these questions, it is possible to see how the Torah’s position rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel, is moral and logical. Allow me to summarize:
Regarding the question of morality, since the overwhelming odds are that the individual rights and quality of life of the Arabs will be adversely affected, as occurred in Gaza – there is no moral justification to demand the establishment of a Palestinian state for them.
In regards to the question of national rights, the logical difficulty of defining Israeli Arabs as a nation obligates a return to the basic position that there is no “Palestinian people”, but rather, the Arabs living in Israel are part of the Arab nation that resides in the Middle East, and thus, have no right to demand a separate state for themselves in portions of the Land of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people.
Concerning the demographic aspect, the reality is there is a positive growth trend of the Jewish nation in Israel. For sixty-six years, since the establishment of the State, we grew tenfold. In contrast, the prophets of gloom concerning Arab population growth compared to that of the Jews, always proved wrong and misleading. The Arab birthrate is declining. It turns out that the demographic threat is not critical, and we should reduce it by adopting a policy that will enhance the growth of the Jewish people in Israel, prevent Arab immigration into the Land of Israel, and if possible, even encourage emigration of those who alienate themselves from the Jewish state.
From a security perspective, the establishment of a Palestinian state is liable to endanger the very existence of the State of Israel, since the chances of each one of the risks mentioned above is over fifty percent. And no international guarantee will help prevent this risk, just as the U.S. and European countries failed to stabilize the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the rest of the Arab countries.
The Challenge before Us
In light of all this, we are charged with a twofold challenge: 1) to strengthen the consciousness of Torat Eretz Yisrael, from which the instruction of coping realistically with the difficult complications facing us is derived. 2) In practical terms, to join the settlements in Judea and Samaria; this is the most effective way of fortifying the State of Israel, both spiritually and physically.
This article appears in the ‘Basheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be read at: http://en.yhb.org.il/