Summary ... The Land of Israel is not speculative real estate to be bartered away for some high sounding false promise of peace. The hills and valleys of Judea and Samaria contain the collective memory of the Jewish people. It was on this soil that they wrote the holy Scriptures we call the Tanakh.
There have been two major stages in modern Israel's development: Construction - the building of the State; and Destruction - the tearing down of the state. What follows is a brief description of these significant stages.
A Roman legionnaire stands on a hill overlooking Jerusalem. He watches the city burn and proclaims proudly, "Judea capta est". Judea is destroyed. It will never rise again. Rome's rulers even decreed a change of name for Judea. Henceforth it would be named after the Philistines (or Palestine) and the Jewish connection would be obliterated forever.
Yet, like the legendary Phoenix, rising from the ashes of its own destruction, the new nation of Israel burst onto the international scene in 1948, with the lusty cry of a newborn infant, yearning to breathe free. Five Arab armies rushed to invade Israel and crush the life from the new Jewish State. With unbelievable bravery and heroism the new state survived. Six thousand of its young defenders gave their lives that Israel might live.
In blood and fire was Israel born, and on a hot anvil was she forged. Her youth understood that life in the new Jewish homeland would require sacrifice. With stories of burning flesh from the ovens of Auschwitz embedded deep in their psyches, the young Israeli soldiers fought with the firm conviction that there was "no alternative" (ein brera).... (from the author's private diary)
The history of the modern State of Israel can be divided into two stages. The first began with Theodore Herzl's convening of the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897. Herzl proclaimed prophetically that there would be Jewish State in 50 years: "If you will it, it need not be a dream." In the half century that followed, with blood sweat and tears, a modern Jewish State was born.
Israel prospered as millions of new immigrants returned to their homeland. Displaced persons from Europe, survivors of the Holocaust, were reborn as proud citizens of a proud Zionist State. Jews from Arab lands, expelled from their homes of over a thousand years were welcomed in an Israel yet to be built. Jews from Russia, Ethiopia, Europe and the Americas joined the exotic mixture that makes up the Jewish State's vibrant character.
In 1967 Israel fought and won an impossible war of survival and with the help of HaShem. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza were returned to their rightful owner. The covenant with Abraham had been fulfilled.
"And it came to pass, that when the sun went down, and there was thick darkness, behold a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these places. That day the L-RD made a covenant with Abraham saying: 'Unto thy seed have I given this land.'" (Genesis 15:17-18)
Some Israelis, and many liberal/left intellectuals from the West were disconcerted by Israel's great victory. They loved the Jews as victims and could not appreciate them as victors. As Golda Meir use to say: A lot of world leaders would love to say the nicest eulogies should Israel be destroyed. She preferred Israel to survive as do I. This period following the Six Day War was the beginning of the second stage that I call the deconstruction of Israel. This period marked the rise of the post-Zionists and historical revisionists. There was, indeed, also a surge of Zionist messianic fervor following the Six Day War. Unfortunately the Left managed to persevere and infiltrate the universities, schools, media, judiciary, and military of Israel. Over a 25 year period they were able to destroy most Zionist principles and destroy the nation's patriotism.
In rapid succession, a series of events turned the deconstruction from a gradual drift to a sickening free fall. Those events in brief:
1. 1987: Intifada and Loss of Deterrence
The Israeli government lacked the will to put down the revolt decisively. The Israeli Defense Forces were defeated by 12 year old Arab boys. It is important to note that the world media used this conflict to slander Israel and create a myth of David (Arab) versus Goliath (Israel).
Back in 1965, in a small meeting room in Tel Aviv, former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan gave a pep talk to a group of RAFI (Rishimat Poalai Israel) volunteers, myself included. At that time, RAFI, a breakaway faction of the Mapai Party, included such notables as former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and former Defense Minister Shimon Peres. Peres and Dayan had been considered the "hawks" of Mapai and it was no accident that in the 1965 election they supported a strong defense and security policy.
Dayan was always interesting to listen to, but this talk was something special and we paid attention to every word. "The essence of Israel's security in this region (Middle East) is deterrence," he said. "When we formed the State in 1948-9, we were very weak. The Arab States had planes, tanks, heavy artillery and many more soldiers than us. We had very little heavy military equipment. In the period 1949-55, we absorbed almost a million immigrants. Tent cities sprung up all over the country. We were totally disorganized. Had the Arabs mounted another major invasion, we could have lost. We devised a solution to this problem. It was deterrence. Think about being lost in a forest and surrounded by hostile animals. If you light a torch, boldly approach them showing no fear — they will retreat. But, if you show fear — they will attack and you are lost. We used this principle to save Israel during those early years. Every time we were attacked, we retaliated ten fold. We showed daring and penetrated deep within their borders to attack our targets. We were fearless, brave, and even a bit bloodthirsty. You know the result. The Arabs were afraid and never attacked. Deterrence worked. By 1956 when we invaded Sinai, the Israel Defense Force was not just strong, it was invincible."
The story above was not told just for nostalgia. The lesson is extremely important for the survival of Israel today. Unfortunately Israelis are daily witnessing the consequences of seven years of declining deterrence vis a vis its Arab population. In 1987, the intifada presented Israel with a new challenge. It was a new kind of war, but with the same aim of driving the Israelis out of their country. The Israelis fought the intifada with many handicaps, not the least of which were their own rules of conduct. Israeli soldiers failed to cope with attacks by teenage Arab boys. In the course of several years, the Arabs learned that the soldiers would not aggressively retaliate for their attacks. They became emboldened.
The Lesson: What seemed like moderation and civilized behavior to Israelis was seen as brutality by the West and weakness by the Arabs. The failure to learn this lesson still continues.
2. 1990-91: Persian Gulf War and Loss of Deterrence
The failure to retaliate against Iraq for its SCUD attacks greatly weakened Israel's policy of deterrence. All the world saw Israelis cowering in their sealed rooms. The Arabs loved the sight and it emboldened the Palestinian Arabs. More serious damage was done to the Israelis psyche. From a proud macho national image, was born a new vulnerable, dependent (on America), ghetto mentality. The Israeli public was "tired of fighting" and felt they could not cope with the new threats to their survival. The looked for a new peaceful solution.
3. 1993: Oslo Accords - The Movement Toward Destruction Speeds Up
The Israelis had always yearned for peace. Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and others secretly negotiated the Oslo Accords, which created a Palestinian State. Israelis were told that this was a "peace" agreement, but they soon found out that it would lead to more death and destruction. Eventually they would learn of its fatal consequences in strategic territory, water and the surrender of its Holy Places. Oslo set in motion the following negative forces:
- Creation of a new political entity which claimed Israeli territory, water and history as its own.
- Cast in doubt Jewish rights to Israel.
- Put Israel's capitol, Jerusalem, up for negotiation.
- Placed Arab refugee return and compensation up for negotiation.
- Created terrorist safe havens in all PA territory.
- Created terrorist passageways across Israeli territory.
- Israel became a collaborator and promoter of Palestinian terrorism and gave a lesson to future terrorists that if they just kill enough people over a long period of time they could become successful.
- Israel is giving up the strategic territory that protects it and has allowed a hostile army to develop in its very heartland.
- There is much more, but you get the picture.
Here are the benefits that Israel received as a result of its participation in Oslo: 0 (zero)
Israel did not get peace, cooperation, good neighbors, an end to anti-Semitic incitement, security, etc. ...
.... Israel got nothing!!
The Bottom Line
The process that is going on now is nothing less than the destruction of the State of Israel. Everything that is happening strengthens the Arab claim to Eretz Yisrael. Nothing helps Israel.
The truth, which many find inconvenient, is that the Land of Israel was promised by God to Abraham and his seed in perpetuity. The Land of Israel is not speculative real estate to be bartered away for some high sounding false promise of peace. The hills and valleys of Judea and Samaria contain the collective memory of the Jewish people. It was here that the Israelites first entered the Holy Land. And it was here they fought the battles, built the towns, elected their kings and were preached to by their prophets and judges. And it was on this soil that they wrote the Holy Scriptures we call our Bible.
The Israeli governments of Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu, and Barak are transitory. They hold office for a few years and then pass into history. God's covenant with Abraham is eternal. Israel holds these lands as a sacred trust for the Jewish people for all time. It would not only be sinful, but also criminal, to abuse that trust by denying future generations of Jews their Holy Land — Land of their Fathers; the one tiny spot on planet earth given to them by God.
[ Bernard J. Shapiro, Executive Director, The Freeman Center for Strategic Studies | Published: May 5, 2005 ]