The Zionist Conspiracy
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
God, Judea and Samaria
A common argument against ceding disputed territory is that to do so would be "spitting in God's face." After all, in 1967, God gave Israel the gift of possession of those areas.
While I tend to be a rationalist, when it comes to the Six Day War, I cannot help but see divine intervention. The scope of Israel's victory, and the manner in which Jewish history changed literally overnight, would appear to be as great a miracle as the one that is celebrated each year on the holiday of Purim.
Nevertheless, I find the argument that territorial compromise is inherently insulting to God to be off base.
I do not intend to be provocative and certainly do not intend to invoke God's wrath when I write that if God truly would be angered by territorial compromise, then He is at fault for the circumstances under which Israel obtained the Old City of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan and the Sinai.
For almost two millennia, the Land of Israel was mostly empty. Then, around the time the Zionist movement began to flourish, Arabs began moving into the Land of Israel.
By the time Israel was formed in 1948, there were more Arabs than Jews living in the Land of Israel. Worse, six million Jews had been murdered in the Holocaust, decimating European Judaism and leaving only around 13 million Jews in the world.
Israel was a tiny country surrounded by enemies and by the sea.
In the 1950's, Arab expulsion of Sephardic Jews and the immigration of most of those Sephardim to Israel shifted the demographic balance in Israel's favor. So did the fact that several hundred thousand Arabs left the Land of Israel during the 1948-49 War of Independence.
However, the "refugee" issue and Israel's formation resulted in nationalism among Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, who started referring to themselves as "Palestinians."
When Israel won the Six Day War, the territories it liberated came with the "gift" of around 1.5 million Arabs hostile to it, around 1.4 million more than a century earlier.
Moreover, feeling guilt pangs over their own colonialist histories, Europeans powers such as France and Britain deemed Israel's possession of these areas as illegitimate and supported Arab states and the Soviet bloc in demanding Israel's withdrawal.
At first, there was little expectation that Israel could retain the land for more than a few weeks. But when the U.S. took the position that Israel should not have to cede the territories without a peace agreement, Israel annexed the eastern section of Jerusalem and slowly began to settle Judea, beginning with the Gush Etzion settlements that Jordan had destroyed in 1948.
The U.S. always opposed such settlement, but Arab intransigence created a diplomatic vacuum and allowed Israel a chance to settle more and more of Judea. When Menachem Begin's Likud party was elected in 1977, settlement in Samaria commenced.
Eventually, Arabs changed their approach by agreeing to participate in a peace process in Madrid in 1991. As a result, opposition to settlement - including by America - became much more strident. No Israeli government has formed any new settlements since Madrid.
Most now estimate that 3.5 million Arabs live in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in addition to the more than one million Arab citizens of Israel. Some have challenged this figure, arguing that "only" 2.5 million to 3 million Arabs live in Jerusalem Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
In any event, it is clear that even after the Six Day War, Israel remains diplomatically and politically weak, reliant on U.S. support to avoid international isolation. It is treated with hostility by most of the world.
The gift of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza came with a demographic timebomb of millions of Arabs. Decades before 1967, "transferring" (or "resettling") these Arabs might have been a possibility. But since the '50's, transfer has been deemed to be akin to a war crime.
The bottom line is that if God is insistent on retention of all of the land Israel captured in 1967, He should have given this land to Israel at a time when there were more Jews in the world, fewer Arabs on the land, a different attitude on the part of the international community toward resettlement of people who lose a war of aggression, and few if any media members closely chronicling everything that happens in the Land of Israel.
As great a miracle as the Six Day War's outcome was and is, I therefore reject the notion that ceding territory is an insult to God. The gifts of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan came together with very serious problems.
It's up to those of us on earth to balance the gifts with the problems to create the optimal conditions for a secure Israel on as much territory as possible with as few Arabs on that territory as possible.