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A Jewish Response to Netanyahu's Speech

Reader comment on item: Assessing Binyamin Netanyahu's Speech at Bar-Ilan University

Submitted by Prof. Paul Eidelberg (Israel), Jun 15, 2009 at 01:07

Know first that Judea and Samaria constitute the heartland of the Jewish people. This land is inseparable from the teachings of the Prophets of Israel. From there our Prophets bestowed on humanity its loftiest and most fundamental ideas and values: first and foremost the idea of Ethical Monotheism. From ethical monotheism we derive the possibility of Truth, of Human Dignity, of Justice, of Kindness, of Freedom, of Progress, of Peace—of peace because there cannot be genuine and abiding peace among men without Truth.

Moreover, there cannot be peace between nations unless they acknowledge that lapidary verse from holy writ that God created man in His own image, for this verse affirm unity the human community.

These ideas and values are the building blocks of Western civilization. They endow human life with meaning and nobility, with creativity and continuity, with depth and purpose. Yes, and they are tangibly linked to Judea and Samaria—the source of our historic memory. Therefore, to agree to establish an Arab-Islamic state on this land, a state whose inhabitants harbor a religion diametrically opposed to what this land stands for, is a Chilul HaShem—a desecration of God's Name. To agree to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria is to negate God's Covenant with the fathers of the Jewish People. This agreement will never be consummated.

I am well aware of the political and rhetorical nature of Netanyahu's speech. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that the conditions he laid down for the establishment of a Palestinian state will never be accepted by Arabs or Muslims; for unlike Mr. Netanyahu, they believe in a deity in whose name they are willing to sacrifice their lives.

I wonder whether the people of Israel understand the dreadful transgression Netanyahu committed by saying YES to a Palestinian state on Jewish land? Some observers, trained in law, may say that Netanyahu's YES will not stand the test of international law; I leave this for them to explain. Others have already said that he has violated the coalition agreement that forms the basis of his government. What most disturbs me, however, is his projected violation of Jewish law.

In a policy paper in which I collaborated with Professor Louis Rene Beres, I abbreviated a lengthy halakhic disquisition by the Gaon Rabbi Dr. Haim Zimmerman, of blessed memory, in which he sets forth, in a most compelling way, the prohibition of yielding Jewish land to non-Jews. This paper was written and published in opposition to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005. Serving then as a minister in the Sharon government, Mr. Netanyahu voted for that withdrawal, contrary to the warnings of Israel's highest military and intelligence officials. Hence, he is partly responsible for the death, destruction, and suffering resulting from the government's violation of Jewish law.

But Mr. Netanyahu, like so many Israeli politicians, is superior to Jewish law. He is superior to the teachings of Moses and the Prophets of Israel. His highest law is derived not from God but from his own self-serving political calculations.

We have known for some time the conditions he would lay down for a Palestinian state: it would have no army, no control of air space, no power to make treaties with other nations, etc., etc. It was obvious that these conditions would not be acceptable to the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu may be cunning, but he is not wise. Surely he should also insist that Arabs cease brainwashing their children to exalt suicide bombers on the one hand, and to hate Jews and Israel on the other. But how could he insist on this without insisting that the Arabs overhaul the Quran, erase the ethos of jihad, rewrite their history, hence cease being Muslims!

To be fair, there were some solid points in Netanyahu's speech.

· He said the root of the conflict was, and remains, the Arab refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own, in their historic homeland.

· He said the closer we get to an agreement with the Palestinians, the further they retreat and raise demands that are inconsistent with a true desire to end the conflict.

· He said the claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the Palestinians, or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test of reality.

He summed up by saying: "If we receive [a] guarantee regarding demilitarization and Israel's security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state." However, if the Palestinian state were threatened by terrorists, international law would not require Palestinian compliance with pre-state agreements concerning demilitarization.

Leaving this aside, I see in Netanyahu's speech something overlooked by its author and thus far by commentators. Looking beyond his crafted rhetoric, Mr. Netanyahu, in my opinion, has given the Arab-Islamic world a great victory and has inflicted on the Jewish people a terrible defeat. For by agreeing to a Palestinian state, Netanyahu has given the democratic world to believe that the Arab claim to Judea and Samaria is superior to any put forth by the Jews! Arabs thus have all the more reason to despise the Jews and scorn the God of Israel! They will then have all the more incentive to persist in their territorial demands whose ultimate objective is to wipe Israel off the map of the Middle East.

How ironic! I said Prime Minister Netanyahu desecrated God's Name. He did so, moreover, at Bar-Ilan University, Israel's one religious university. Contrast President Barack Obama's speech at al-Azhar University—the theological Harvard of the Islamic world. Obama repeatedly praised Islam and its "holy" Quran.

I fear for Israel's future. The strength of a nation depends more on its morale than on military might, and I see this morale evaporating while Jews resign themselves—even though it's still not official—to the establishment of an Arab-Islamic state in their heartland. I ask: How should and how will the 300,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria feel now that their Prime Minister has renounced any Jewish claim to this land? They saw what happened to the 10,000 Jews in Gaza and northern Samaria, so many of which were traumatized and impoverished by the Expulsion.

Let me ask Mr. Netanyahu: How will these Jews feel while you trifle with their lives and their future while waltzing with Mahmoud Abbas who you know very well is leading the Americans by the nose.

You know, Mr. Netanyahu, that the first task of a statesman is to promote national unity by heightening a people's sense of national pride and identity—which requires the nation's territorial integrity. Your speech has alienated the most patriotic citizens of Israel, those who live in memory-filled Judea and Samaria which you are willing to surrender. Of course they know the Palestinians are not going to buy your Alice-in-Wonderland peace plan. But you have deprived them of the moral high ground on which to fight for Israel's survival.

I did not realize how much you have in common with Obama. Perceptive writers, including Victor Davis Hanson, Ralph Peters, our own Caroline Glick, Frank Gaffney, Melanie Phillips, Wafa Sultan, have exposed the incredible number of falsehoods that fill Obama's Cairo speech. But your own speech is based the one colossal falsehood that has betrayed Israel since Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accord—that peace is possible with the disciples of Muhammad.

You may know this in your heart of hearts, but like so many policy-makers in the democratic world, you lack the courage and wisdom to face the truth and act accordingly—with decisiveness and Jewish vision.

What is the difference between Obama's reaching out to Ahmadinejad—which you deem futile—and your reaching out to Mahmoud Abbas? I don't see Muslims or Arabs reaching out to Jews. Why not? Because they have pride, overweening pride, groundless pride, destructive pride—call it what you will—but it means you will blink first, you will make concessions to them, and you will get nothing but more than contempt and violence in return.

And so the Big Lie of the "peace process" will continue. The shoddy domestic politics of Israel along with the Saudi infested politics of America will continue. Yes, and the terrorism will continue. Is there a way out of this maze? Perhaps, but I've said enough in this comment.



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