In his visit to Israel, President Bush had the audacity to say, “end the occupation.” He had in mind Judea and Samaria including the Old City of Jerusalem. Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Olmert, like other Israelis who are “tired of being courageous,” was silent.
Of course, Israel requires more than courage. Leaving aside the self-serving motives of Israel’s secular elites, they are abysmally ignorant. They have no understanding of the grandeur of the Jewish heritage, hence of what should be the character of the so-called Jewish state. They know not how to deal with the Arab Palestinian problem. Many would sacrifice much of the Land of Israel in the belief that this would solve that lethal problem. Mr. Bush is also drowning in ignorance, to say nothing of Saudi oil.
Except for the benighted, including journalists or academics, it should be obvious that neither democratic politics nor political science can deal adequately with these issues. The time has come for an unconventional approach. Let’s begin with a Torah perspective.
The Torah repeatedly declares that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. God promised Abraham: “And I will give unto you and to your seed after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8). God gave the same promise to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:3 and 28:13).
The Land of Israel is the Chosen Land (Gen. 12:1; Deut. 11:12). Strategically located, this land was chosen by God so that His ways would be made known to the world by His Chosen People. “This people have I formed for Myself, that they shall relate My praise (Isa. 43:21). This means that Israel’s world-historical function is to reveal the infinite wisdom, power, and kindliness of the Creator in every domain of existence—physical, intellectual, and moral. “For out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). Therefore, any loss of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel can only be temporary. For “God is not a man that He should lie; nor a human being that he should change his mind. Shall He say something and not do it, or speak and not fulfill?” (Num. 23:19).
But when the people of Israel transgressed the Torah, they were expelled from the Land. They became a “byword among all the nations” (Deut. 28:37), scorned, tormented, and decimated, the hapless victims of anti-Semitism. Their tortured exile and temporary loss of sovereignty over the Land constituted a punishment prescribed in the Torah itself. “You shall therefore keep all my laws and social rules and fulfill them, so that the land to which I bring you to settle in will not spew you out” (Lev. 20:22). “I, Myself, will bring the land into desolation, and your enemies that settle in it will become astonished at it. But you I will scatter among the nations” (Lev. 26:27, 32).
Remarkably, the Hebrew word “astonished” (shamemu) was understood by the Jewish Sages, more than two thousand years ago, to mean that Israel’s enemies “shall be desolate” while occupying this strange land. In other words, any nation that supplants the Jews in the Land of Israel will not prosper there.
History has confirmed this prophecy. During the last twenty-five hundred years, the Land of Israel has been conquered many times by different nations. Yet, despite its extraordinary fertility, this land remained desolate no matter which foreign nation occupied or controlled it.
Especially significant or providential is the nomadic character of the Arabs who have lived in the Land of Israel and who left it in the most sorrowful desolation as Mark Twain once saw and described. Had the Arabs developed the Land and had they formed thereon a sovereign state with a distinct national culture, Jewish immigration to the Land would have been out of the question. Apparently, the Arabs were placed here as temporary residents, until the Jews, having passed through the fires of exile, could reclaim the Land and make its deserts bloom.
The Arabs, descendants of Ishmael, condemn the Jews as “aggressors” for having “usurped” the land of “Palestine.” President Bush calls us “occupiers.” This denunciation was anticipated in Rashi’s commentary to Genesis 1:1. There the question arises: Why does the Torah begin with Creation and not with the first commandment given to the Jewish people? Rashi answers:
So that if the nations of the world should [question the validity of Israel’s title to the Holy Land] and say: “You are robbers in that you have seized by force the territories of the seven nations” [of Canaan that had previously occupied the land], Israel can retort: “The entire world belongs to the Holy One, Blessed be He. He created it and gave it to whomsoever it was right in His eyes. It was His will to give it to them and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us.”
Of course, Rashi’s commentary would be dismissed by nations no more disposed to recognize the truth of biblical prophecy than to abide by the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality. Why should it be otherwise, since the secular Zionists who founded the State of Israel in 1948 dismissed the Torah, the only rational justification for Jewish possession of the Land of Israel?
But as I have often shown, the concept of the sovereign “state” is foreign to the Torah. At last, however, the New Jewish Congress, recently inaugurated in Jerusalem, declared that the Land of Israel does not belong to the State but to the Nation—the Jewish People. The State is nothing more than a trustee of the Jewish People to whom this land was given by God Almighty. But if Prime Minister Olmert does not recognize this truth, what can we expect of President Bush?
Since Israel’s secular elites deem the State supreme—a fascist doctrine—and since they reject the idea that the Land of Israel belongs to the Nation, the Jewish People, logic dictates that the State, as presently conceived, must perish if the Jewish People are to retain their only homeland—Eretz Yisrael. But inasmuch as the power of the State is concentrated in its political and judicial institutions, these institutions much perish or be radically transformed.
Democratic elections alone will not accomplish this task. In fact, it is precisely democratic elections that endow Israel’s elites with legitimacy despite their treachery. No one in public life emphasizes this fact on public forums—not even Manhigut Yehudit, the Jewish Leadership movement despite its having adopted, years ago, many of the ideas and institutional proposals of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy.
I say this not to disparage anyone, but to inform people of what must be done to save Israel. I know of no one aspiring to become Israel’s leader who has the courage and the intellectual ability to tell the people of Israel that they have been brainwashed for 60 years about Israeli democracy. Nor has anyone enlightened them about the inherent contradiction between the idea of the sovereign State and Judaism.
Israel’s reputed democracy, confronted by Arab-Islamic despotism, did not prevent Mr. Bush—a self-styled Christian—from telling Jews to end the occupation of their God-given land. Mark my words, Mr. Olmert, like Ariel Sharon, will justify withdrawal from Judea and Samaria in the name of democracy. And he will do this because Israel’s secular elites regard the State and its laws superior to the laws of the Torah, as the Jews of Gush Katif learned in their misery.
Have you heard any religious party declare, again and again, that the laws of the State are not the highest law? Have you heard of any person in public life such as Effie Eitam or Arieh Eldad or Moshe Feiglin say that those who claim the laws of the State are the highest laws are actually espousing a fascist doctrine? If the Supreme Court or the Knesset insists that the laws of the State are the highest law, then I urge the men just named—and I wish them well—to call for regime change and not just civil disobedience. Indeed, those who have not sacrificed their intellects to “political correctness” must surely know that Israel’s phony democracy, with its destructive political and judicial institutions, must perish if Israel is to survive.