An open letter to the Government of Israel and
the US Ambassador, David Friedman
THE EXISTENTIAL DANGER
US Ambassador David Friedman’s recently released comments about the Deal of the Century peace plan (from his February speech at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) were quite a revelation. Part of the trio who authored the proposal, Friedman remarked it “bridges the asymmetry between Israel and Palestine.”
The ambassador appeared delighted by the “breakthrough that after 52 years [finally] defines the borders of Israel and Palestine.” This latest two-state solution prohibits existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria from naturally expanding eastward over the next four years; Jewish footprints in the future Palestine might make things messy later on. [Could this be the reason Defense Minister Bennett sent out 500 troops the day after Yom HaShoa to violently expel five young families from Yitzhar?]
In addition to taking 70% of Judea and Samaria and a portion of Yerushalayim, Palestine will also “more than double in size” with the addition of a huge swath of Israeli territory from the Negev – akin to the UN 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine.
To balance the obvious “asymmetry,” the US will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the remaining 30% slice of Judea and Samaria, where in any case, the hundreds of thousands of Jews who live there were “highly unlikely to be going anywhere anyway; [so] it seems like a small price to pay.”
However, there’s a catch: the real “deal within the Deal” is that US recognition of Israeli sovereignty is granted only if Israel keeps the four-year freeze and agrees to use the Deal as the basis in negotiations for a final peace treaty.
With a perfectly straight face the ambassador admitted that the contrast between Israel and the Arabs was all too clear. Whereas “Israel is a democracy and keeps its word,” the Palestinians are not democratic and “lack respect for the norms of society we hold dear – such as freedom of religion, movement, the press – are non-existent.”
But he and his cohorts are betting that if given four years to think it over, the Arabs will get their act together because the Deal is just too good to turn down.
Sorry, Mr. Ambassador, but this bridge over troubled waters is a washout. Like the others before it, the “Deal” will put millions of Jewish lives in mortal danger, G-d Forbid!
Contrary to all the hype, the vast majority of Jews in Israel and abroad do not favor the establishment of a Palestinian state under any conditions. The price – far too high and way too risky! Too many Jews have already paid the price, suffering the tragic consequences of previous peace plans that cede their land for “peace” and falsely promise that the Arabs will lay down their guns.
THE REBBE’S PLEA TO LEARN FROM PAST MISTAKES
The fatal flaw in Ambassador Friedman’s plan is none other than the very same mistake Israeli ministers made in the days following the Six-Day War:
● Craving legitimacy from the Nations.
● Allowing the “sounds of rustling leaves” to frighten them into making concessions that harm Jewish lives, breed contempt, and increase the pressure to concede even more.
In the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe:
G-d has in His world a Nation of wise and understanding people, beginning with the heads of your legions down to cutters of wood and drawers of water.
Amongst them are also those who are afraid and weak-hearted, arguing ceaselessly: ‘Don’t argue even with a minor nation, certainly not with a super-power.’
These people conduct themselves like the m’raglim who said: ‘We see ourselves as grasshoppers’ – and, therefore: r”l, that is how they see us.
This politician is suffering from his own weak disposition. He thinks that the one who takes an opposing stance is a fool, ignorant in the ways of the world of politics. Let him stay where he belongs: in the Yeshiva among Jews; but not among cultured individuals, diplomats, and world leaders!
Yet, in his personal affairs, this same diplomat conducts himself like a religious Jew, declaring: There is a Master to the world. But, since, we’re in exile, we need to conduct ourselves diplomatically… [He] is well-trained to twist the truth and protect himself when confronted with his deception!” (Lubavitcher Rebbe in a public address in 1979)
Despite the miraculous liberation of “sites of bygone glory and sacred places hallowed by generations of Jews and the Eternal City of Yerushalayim restored as one city to her natural inheritors” (Eliyahu Kitov) – or that the Arabs were brought to their knees in utter defeat – or, to quote an ecstatic Abba Eban, “the world is applauding!” five days later on June 15th, the confidence that fortified Israel’s cabinet during the war was seriously wavering, weakened, no doubt, by their agreeing to the UN’s brokered cease-fire instead of simply saying, We Won!
Overwhelmed by uncertainty, Israel’s ministers debated what to do with the Arab population that remained and worried about Israel’s image in the eyes of the World. How could Israel “defend ruling over another people?” And what about “the explosive nature of the Arabs?” (Abba Eban) On June 19th, this normally courageous group of men secretly cabled Washington their proposal to “reach peace with Egypt and Syria on the basis of the international border and the security requirements of Israel.”
Instead of taking the Rebbe’s advice to “settle in all of the territories without delay, immediately in one moment within the span of a single day,” they decided to follow their fears, dragging the rest of Klal Yisrael along with them through the folly of Land for Peace.
But in 770 that day, the Lubavitcher Rebbe would have none of it. It was Shavuous and during the farbrengen the Rebbe sounded the alarm, warning that Israel’s ministers intend to relinquish the territories in exchange for peace agreements with Egypt and Syria!
The very notion was unthinkable! Not only to the Chassidim but to the broader Jewish community as well. One week prior, with the Six-Day War still raging, more than 50,000 Jews from across the spectrum made their way to Washington to lobby President Johnson in support of Israel; when the announcement came that Egypt had capitulated, the crowd burst into joyous singing and dancing.
In the years that followed, the Rebbe was left with no choice but to report that – contrary to Israeli news releases – the Arab League was, in fact, telling Israel, “Leave us alone already, we have enough of our own troubles; we need neither your honey nor your sting!”
Even Washington was saying, “Stop making this an issue. You conquered this land, reside there and enjoy!”
The Rebbe stated what should have been obvious: “Up until now, the Arabs were fearful of Israel, but their [Israel’s] continuous groveling is the direct cause of the Arabs raising their head against Israel and increasing their terror attacks!” (Lubavitcher Rebbe in a public talk on Parshas Mattos-Maseh in 1969)
To those who drafted the Deal of the Century and to Prime Minister Netanyahu who is ready to impose it, we say: Jewish Law rules that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People with Biblically designated borders.
It is forbidden to relinquish any parcel of real estate in Israel to a Gentile, no matter how small. Any compromise on this is forbidden, especially when we speak of a city on the border. Today, every single city in Israel has the law of a city on the border. “The one and only reason for this ruling is the danger [it brings] to Jewish lives, G-d forbid.” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, 1978)
US military experts, l’havdil, confirmed as much in 1978 at Camp David, albeit in private for diplomatic reasons, that relinquishing land and abandoning secure borders endangers Jewish lives.
For a worthless piece of paper, they left Israel without oil, without borders, without defense, with the enemy close to population centers! They gave away valuable landholdings on the border – cities that guard over the borders, thereby opening up the land to the enemy! (Lubavitcher Rebbe, from public talks in 1979 and 1980)
At some point the politicians and the diplomats will begin to regret their actions but will be too ashamed to admit the truth publicly. Instead they will argue, ‘But we signed the paper. We, the Jewish People are a fair and honest nation. We are bound to fulfill our obligation’ – WRONG!
They never received power of attorney from the owners of the Land of Israel, who are all the Jewish People for all generations. Their signature is null and void.
International law agrees: Should just one inheritor object to the handling by others of his joint inheritance, all agreements reached by others become void retroactively and must be re-examined afresh.
In the end, the Israeli government will have no choice but to listen to Jewish Law. (Lubavitcher Rebbe, in a public talk on the 13th of Tishrei in 1980)
BACK TO BASICS, BACK TO THE BLUEPRINT
There is no greater blessing than the blessing of peace.
With the implementation of the one path to peace yet to be tried, Israel will finally be able to enjoy real security, prosperity, and respect from the rest of the world. The time is well past when Israel should have gone back to the basics every country follows: putting the welfare of its citizens first, over and above all other considerations.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us the Blueprint for true peace. Remarkably, Zehut’s Diplomatic and Security Peace Plan translates the Rebbe’s Blueprint into practical and attainable government policies.
What follows is an overview of the Zehut Peace Plan. Its underlying foundations echo the Rebbe’s statements and directives over the years:
1. Israel is One Land for One Nation with One G-d that by the Will of the Creator, the G-d of Israel, the Land of Israel is the Land of the Nation of Israel, as is expressed in the Torah (see Rashi’s opening commentary on B’reishis – which the Rebbe often cited).
2. Therefore, security and peace for Israel must spring from a decidedly Jewish rather than an Israeli perspective to succeed.
3. The State of Israel was established to be a Jewish State and must, therefore, express this principle and protect it within the context of its chosen government.
4. Human rights and human dignity are an inviolable G-d-given right. In contrast, citizenship is granted or withdrawn by man, through the State – as per human considerations.
5. Therefore, it is not a given that application of sovereignty or the protection of human rights necessitates the granting of citizenship. Israel can create a separate civil status for resident non-Jews, while at the same time safeguarding their human rights.
The main details in Zehut’s plan are consistent with the Rebbe’s conviction, al pi Halacha, that Pikuach Nefesh, protecting and saving lives, supersedes all other considerations.
6. Israel will nullify and cancel the Oslo Accords and all its derivatives, past and present, and restore the legal status of YESHA – the liberated territories from the Six Day War – to before those agreements were signed.
7. Israel will offer an honorable withdrawal to all terrorists including a dignified retreat that will permit them to take their families and even their personal weapons to another place should they not wish to remain under Israeli control.
8. Upon their agreed withdrawal to destinations outside Israel, the State will release and expel security prisoners held in Israeli jails, subject to GSS approval. After this, whoever continues to fight, incite, etc. will be considered a terrorist and dealt with accordingly. The above steps will be done intelligently with operational and practical considerations taken into account to ensure the safety and security of soldiers and citizens.
9. Israel will restore military control and security over the entire YESHA [Yehuda, Shomron and Gaza]. It will do everything possible to reduce unnecessary violence against the Arab residents, during and after the takeover, to prevent humanitarian problems. At the same time, this will be done in the framework of a state of war where the security of soldiers and citizens comes first.
Zehut follows the Rebbe’s line of reasoning regarding settling the Land of Israel, particularly we might add, “in the places under dispute by the Nations” (Lubavitcher Rebbe in a letter dated 22 Cheshvan, 1978)
The Rebbe advocates populating the entire eastern border of the Holy Land because “This is literally a matter of security for the three and a half million Jews!” (from a public address Pesach Sheni 1978).
“Ha Masseh Hu HaIkar – so it must be regarding the integrity of the Land of Israel” (Lubavitcher Rebbe in a public address on the 13th of Tishrei in 1977).
10. Israel will apply full sovereignty over the liberated territories won in the Six Day War.
11. Every Israeli citizen will be free to move in any public space. Needless to say, all Israeli citizens will be free to live wherever they want, purchase land, housing – and will have access to infrastructure without the tangle of restrictions and bureaucracy that resulted from Israel’s signature to peace agreements.
Zehut unambiguously addresses the Arab question in a thoughtful, fair manner. Zehut’s solution dovetails with the Rebbe’s realistic view that: “True, one and a half million Arabs within the boundaries of the State are likely to be a problem. What would be the best alternative to holding on to the territories? An Arab Jordanian State, in which one and a half million dangerous Arabs live? One and a half million Arabs in their own country, a firing shot away – rather than subject to the scrutiny of the State within her borders, despite the difficulties?” (from an interview of Pinchas Peli with the Rebbe)
12. Arabs will receive temporary Israeli residency cards, be allowed to choose their municipal leadership, and will pay municipal taxes. Security will be extended to them the same way protection is given to anyone else living in Israel.
Healthcare will also be available to them in exchange for payment. The Red Crescent will continue operating as usual.
After the application of full Israeli sovereignty and the restoration of personal security to Jews and to Arabs – who were the first to suffer from their terrorist regime – they will be offered three options to choose from in deciding whether or not to stay in Israel:
Option A – A generous emigration package including fair and equitable purchase of their property, a financial grant and assistance finding new homes and jobs.
Option B – Permanent Resident Status conditioned on open loyalty to the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish People and no history of involvement of terrorism or intent to harm the State.
They will enjoy full freedom of movement and the right to work anywhere in the country; all tax laws will apply.
Permanent Residents will not have the right to vote or serve in the IDF.
Option C – Israeli Citizenship based on established protocol, demonstrating loyalty to the State, Hebrew language proficiency along with recommendations for citizenship. Citizens will be required to serve in the IDF or National Service and will have the right to vote.
With regard to foreign policy and US aid, the Rebbe commented:
They worry about keeping favor in America’s eyes.
There was no need for the Israeli government to command the IDF to withdraw from the Beirut-Damascus highway. Their reasoning was that the USA would have been “angry” had they not done so. Indeed, the USA nevertheless remained “angry” and even more so, wishing that Damascus would have been conquered, thereby saving all the pain and tribulations currently coming from there. Damascus would have been conquered and when returned would have become a downtrodden kingdom. This failure happened because the government bows down before the Nations, fearful they will not find favor in US eyes” (Lubavitcher Rebbe following the Lebanon War in 1982).
They reason that this is the only way to continue receiving funds from America; the opposite is true – Only if you stand steadfastly, will you get the funding!” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Tishrei 1980)
With a view to strengthening Israel’s sovereignty and independence, Zehut proposes that Israel reject American financial “aid.” Readers can go to Zehut’s website for a detailed explanation of this position and Zehut’s ideas about foreign policy.
With regard to the Israeli government ceding rights to the Temple Mount and raising the Jordanian flag there and to internationalizing the Old City on the pretext it would save lives, the Rebbe retorted:
The Midrash states: When the Jewish People hold on to the Torah, they will survive, G-d will simply grant His People fortitude and G-d will bless His People with peace – and the entire world community knows it.” (Lubavitcher Rebbe, the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 1976)
13. There will be no division of Yerushalayim. Full sovereignty will be declared over the Temple Mount, ending the official status of the Jordanian Wakf. Muslims will be able to enter the area to pray but will not be allowed to turn prayer into a nationalistic event.
Administration of the Temple Mount will transfer to the Chief Rabbinate who will oversee, regulate and demarcate where one may walk according to Jewish Law.
On the eve of the 53rd anniversary of the Six-Day War, we call upon all parties to respect the integrity of Israel’s G-d given land. The protection of life, pikuach nefesh, must negate all other considerations. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe often said, even speaking about relinquishing Israeli territory – Jewish land – creates an existential danger to the Jewish inhabitants.
Peace can be achieved without creating a “Palestinian state” in the heartland of Israel. We call on you to give serious consideration to those plans that will treat the Jews and the Arabs fairly, such as the Zehut Peace Plan outlined above.
With all due respect to the United States and to President Trump, no outside country has the right to impose a Deal on the sovereign State of Israel.