Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Trump & Palestine vs. Genesis, Rashi & The Land of Israel
The G-d of Israel does have a sense of Humor. Juxtaposing Pres. Trump’s recent UN press conference where he spoke of his two-state plan, followed within ten days, by G-d’s opinion of that plan.
A few days ago, millions of Jews around Israel and the Jewish world, danced with Sefer Torahs for Simchat Torah. And, this Shabbat, all across the Jewish world, the yearly Sabbath Torah reading will begin anew with Bereshit, the beginning of the Book of Genesis.
The most basic commentary on the Torah, printed in almost all Hebrew editions, is that of Rashi – Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki – the famous 11th century French Biblical and Talmudic commentator.
In the beginning, literally, of Genesis, Rashi asks a question, “Why does the Torah start with the story of creation? Since the Torah is a book of laws for the Jewish People, why doesn't it begin with the first law given by G-d to the Jews, the law for establishing a calendar?”
He answers, the Torah starts with the creation narrative to establish that G-d is the Master of the Universe. Then, Rashi says the most amazing thing that still resonates almost a thousand years later. Based on earlier sources and a thorough knowledge of the meaning of Judaism, Rashi says, “So that if the nations come to Israel and say, you are thieves – in Hebrew, she-kevash-tem, you conquered and occupied – the land from the nations living there, you can tell them that all the universe is G-d's, He created it and gave it to the nations, and when He decided, He took it from them and gave it to us.”
Three things have become starkly clear in our era:
First, that Rashi’s explanation of the Torah has in fact come true. Jews have returned to the Land of Israel, but the UN and many nations claim, as Rashi explained they would, that we stole the land from others, namely the so-called Palestinians.
Second, the Israeli Left uses the same Hebrew root/term – kibush, occupation – to denigrate the miraculous victory of the 1967 Six-Day War. It is the same term, “occupation”, used by most of the world in their criticism of Israeli policies in the “territories,” Judea and Samaria.
Even Ariel Sharon used it at one point to justify his withdrawal from Gaza. It is the language of self-hating Jews – those disconnected from Jewish history and tradition – and the Judeo-paths among the nations. Occupation is when you steal someone else’s land.
The Jewish People liberated parts of the Land of Israel, their Promised Homeland, in stages, first in 1948 and then in 1967 with G-d’s help. The Jewish People didn’t “steal” anything.
And finally, that the only basis for the Jewish People’s national life in their homeland is G-d’s promise as set down in the Bible; not history, not security, but G-d's promise to their forefathers. Only, being rooted in Jewish tradition will guarantee long-term survival, as it did in nearly 2,000 years of exile.
Rashi told the Jewish People, “He took it from them and gave it to us.” And, that’s what every Jewish leader should continuously broadcast on the world stage.
In a recent UN press conference Trump said:
“Well I'd love to be able to make a deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians. You know, my whole life I was told that's the toughest deal...but we're going to take care of that too. Every possible thing is tough about that. I think we're going to make a deal...”
“So at one of our many meetings today, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man who I have a lot of respect for. A man who's been extremely nice to me, very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which by the way we got open in four months...”
And, what is Trump expecting in return?
Trump continued, “...one of the reporters...asked about the one state two state, and I said I think the two state will happen, I think it's [one] way more difficult because it's a real estate deal, because you need meets and bounds and you need lots of carve outs and lots of everything. It's actually a little tougher deal, but another way it works better because you have people governing themselves and – so they asked me about that. I said well I think the two state will happen, I think we're going to go down the two state road...”
“And I'm glad I got it out and Jared, who's so involved, he loves Israel. He loves Israel. But he's also going to be very fair with the Palestinians. He understands it takes two people to be happy, two groups of people to be happy.”
Another Jewish traitor to the Land of Israel?
“Everybody’s got to be happy and that’s why it’s so tough, because there’s been so much hatred and anger for so many years, that’s what probably the number one ingredient of toughness is. But they asked me, I said I think it’s going to be a two state. And you know what I did today? By saying that, I put it out there. And if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that...”
Not true, a recent study conducted by the Left-leaning Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, found only 43% of Israeli Jews support the two-state solution, a 20-year low. Even among the Israeli Jewish Left, support fell from 83% to 66%.
Trump continued, “But nobody wanted to say it. It’s a big thing to put it out, it’s a very big thing to put it out. Now bottom line, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state – that’s OK with me. If they want two states, that’s OK with me. I’m happy if they’re happy. I’m a facilitator, I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don’t get killed anymore.”
“When we had – in Saudi Arabia, we had one of the great conferences in history...we had, I believe 58 Muslim countries – their leaders, the kings, the Emirs, the absolute leaders from every – there was nobody in second place, they were the leaders of the whole thing.”
“And unbeknownst to anybody else people would come up to me individual – it wasn’t a set up, they’d come up to me and say, “sir, you can’t have peace in the Middle East without peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” I said why, what difference – why does that matter so much?
They said, “it just is impossible to make peace in the Middle East unless you have between the Israelis..” so I heard that from...the King of Saudi Arabia whose a great guy...And then, somebody else came up and he wasn’t told, “oh go up and say it,” I know where they’re coming from.”
So, Trump is sympathetic to the Arab position?
He continued, “And I must have had 12 leaders say it, and they just said it. And I started to realize that peace between Israel and the Palestinians for the Middle East is a very important thing and we’re trying very hard to get it. I think probably two state[s] is more likely, but you know, if they do a single, if they do a double, I’m OK with it if they’re both happy. If they’re both happy, I’m OK with either. I think the two state is more likely...”
Trump thinks its going to be two states...
A true Jewish leader needs to stand up, not frightened of Trump or anyone, and declare, “The Master of the Universe took it from them and gave it to us.” The Promised Land belongs to the Jews exclusively, and not to any other nation.
Any Israeli prime minister who can't get on TV, go to the UN General Assembly, or any other meeting with world leaders and say these words, should quit, before rejecting the promises of G-d and participating in a process to help another group take over part of the Land of Israel.
As King David said, “If I forget you Jerusalem” - a term for the entire Land of Israel - “let my right hand wither” - rather than sign any false peace agreement - “let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth....” (Psalms 137: 5-6) rather than agree to foreigners taking over part of the Jewish People's homeland.
Why lie to the Palestinians? Why make them believe they are right, that Israel “stole” their land? Why participate in a peace process? Why fool them into believing that Israel will give them land and a state?
Netanyahu, should tell the world, “He took it from them and gave it to us.”
What’s most important for Israeli leaders and the world to understand is, that no matter what the Israeli government decides to do, it has no Religious Legitimacy in Judaism. No Israeli leader or government has the moral, historical, or spiritual right to take away parts of the Promised Land from the Jewish People and give it to others. It’s not theirs to do with as they please; the Land of Israel is an inheritance from G-d and it is not for one generation to decide what to do with it. It is also for all future generations of Jews. It will never be accepted by Jews steeped in their heritage and tradition, or by G-d.
“Ani Ma'amin...” I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even if he takes a long time to come, I believe every day, he’s coming! It is one of the thirteen principles of faith as codified by Maimonides. The Jews will get back their homeland; the Palestinians will not have a state. So why start now, so close to his coming?
The Land of Israel was promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants, the Jews.
The Master of the Universe told them that even though their children will suffer terrible exiles – an educational and cleansing process – in the end, He would bring them home. In the 1948 War of Independence, G-d gave political sovereignty to the Jews for the first time in almost 2,000 years. In the 1967 Six-Day War, G-d returned the Holy City of Jerusalem in its entirety – including eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount – to the Jewish People. Hebron – Judaism’s second holiest city – with the Cave of the Patriarchs, the burial place of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and King David’s first capital city, before Jerusalem – was returned as well. Truthfully, Judea and Samaria – the so-called West Bank – is drenched in Jewish history and Jewish holy sites. That’s why it’s commonly referred to as the “Biblical Heartland”.
The Jewish People have been brought home.
Those who have built their world-view on security needs and have claimed that we cannot allow a Palestinian state to come into existence because of that, have missed the point. The Palestinians, and the world, are playing the “Peace Card”. Even if they promised up and down, that there would be a thousand years of “Peace”, how can Israel spurn G-d’s promise?
Members of the ruling Likud Party and the National Camp have for years based their claim to the “occupied territories” on historical claim, and, more importantly, have said that for security reasons, they couldn’t give them away. Rather than remind everyone of the Biblical Promise and that it’s non-negotiable.
The Israeli Left, in contrast, has argued for quite some time that control over Judea and Samaria is a security liability and not an asset. They have argued that the only true security is in “Peace” with the Arabs and not the status quo. American presidents, from Clinton to Obama, have basically said the same thing. Trump is following in their footsteps…
The Likud, the National Camp, the Yesha Council, and all those on the “Israeli Right,” who can’t bring themselves to base their claim on the Biblical Promise, have missed the point.
The Israeli Left never had it. The world, well what can we say? Except, “He took it from them and gave it to us.” There is no spiritual legitimacy to retreat from the Land of Israel. There is no spiritual legitimacy in refusing to graciously receive G-d's Promised Land, and fight to keep it. There is no spiritual legitimacy to any of these so-called “Peace” agreements, Oslo, the Roadmap, or the “Trump Plan.”
Netanyahu, tell the world the truth, “He took it from them and gave it to us!”
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2018/5779 Pasko