An “unofficial” advisor

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and I have never met. Yet we have several things in common. We are both Israeli citizens. We were both educated in the Zionist traditions of Zeev Jabotinsky. We are both members of the same Likud political party. We both could have waved hello to one another on the Storrow Bridge over the Charles River in Boston. He on one side at Harvard University and me on the other side teaching Hebrew and Biblical literature at Boston University. And yet, we have never met personally.

Because of our common interests I have declared myself an “unofficial” advisor to the Office of our Prime Minister. Political advice he does not need from me . In that arena I am incompetent. But when he appoints me to join round-table discussions with the Palestinians in never-ending failed peace negotiations, I would remind them that since 1882 until 1948 the Jews were the majority of the population of Jerusalem. It was only after the Jordanian conquest in the War of Independence in 1948 that surviving Jews were driven out of the holy city or were taken into captivity by the Jordanian Legion.

The numbers are available to all to read in the Palestine census records of the Ottoman Turks and the British Mandate. Jews were definitely the majority population in Jerusalem.

Therefore as an “unofficial” advisor I would recommend that the city remain united under the flag of Zion as Israel’s eternal and historic capital. It had been a Jewish city for almost two thousand years before the birth of the prophet Mohammed and before the foot of any Muslim ever touched its soil.

There can never be a compromise on Jerusalem, and the city can never again be divided. That is an undisputable fact.

As “unofficial” advisor, I recommend that in negotiations with the Palestinians it be written and sealed that Jews have the right to ascend the Temple Mount (albeit without worshipping there) on days when it would not conflict with Muslim worship and on the three pilgrimage festivals of Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot.

Further I would demand the Jewish rights to visit and to worship at the Tomb of Joseph, at the grave of our matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem, and continued and uninterrupted worship at the Cave of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.

The Cave M’orat haMachpela was purchased from the Hittites by Abraham. No Muslims were then on the face of the earth. For centuries, until 1967, the Muslims denied entry of Jews to worship beyond the seventh step of the cave. After our victorious Six Day War, Jews gained access to the holy tombs, separated from the Muslim areas of worship to avoid confrontation.

On the question of the “right of return” by Arabs who fled or who were driven out of their homes in the 1948 war, there cannot be a return to homes and lands which no longer exist. There can, however, be a monetary agreement for some limited compensation, but only if it is accompanied by similar terms by Arab states from which Jews had been driven out or killed after centuries in living harmoniously with Muslim neighbors. This is the most difficult problem and, in my “unofficial” capacity, one which cannot be solved.

In war, to the victor goes the spoils. Germany lost Breslau to the Poles of Wroclaw and Posen to the Poles of Poznan. Population exchanges and transfers solved the problem of property rights. So too can it be done for Palestinian refugees who wither in dreadful refugee camps, denied citizenship by the rulers of the lands which shelter them.

If Prime Minister Netanyahu would like to discuss this further with me, he has only to contact me. Over a cup of coffee we will succeed in our discussion. And hopefully my status may change from an “unofficial” to an official advisor to our government.

Well…. I can dream anyway.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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