On Jewish destiny and the calming extension of Jewish Sovereignty

Back in the 1980s, I used to have a guy in my shul in Woodland Hills who was our point guy for Hagbah (raising the open Torah scroll after the reading). We used him particularly during the early weeks of Breishit (when the scroll was top-heavy on the Deuteronomy side) and the final weeks of D'varim (when top-heavy on the Genesis side). When I would ask him, "Harry, it's quite heavy this week — are you OK with it today?" he always would respond: "Don't worry, Rabbi. This Torah ain't goin' anywhere I don't want it to go."

Perhaps the singularly dispositive outcome of Israel's elections is that the nearly 800,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria ain't goin' anywhere they don't want to go. A review of comparatively recent Israel history points the way to Israel's destiny. For decades, The dominant Israeli Left put its faith in the Ben-Gurions and Rabins, and the secular right (and too many Religious Zionists) put their unbridled faith in the Menachem Begins and Ariel Sharons. But Jewish destiny never was in any of their hands. At most, they advanced some aspects of that destiny by serving it dutifully or by simply staying out of the way. On occasion, they interfered with the inevitable course of Israel's destiny to reunite the Jewish heartland, Judea and Samaria, with its original November 1947 nine-mile wide shell.

There are no "Palestinians." There never were a "Palestinian Arab" people. There never was a "Palestine." Open an Encycloped Brittanica pre-dating the 1970s and look up "Palestine." The very term was a synonym for Israel and Zion.

  • In the movie "Exodus," Paul Newman's Ari Ben Canaan endeavored to smuggle Jews into "Palestine."
  • The American organization that raised money for the Irgun was the "American League for a Free Palestine."
  • The Jewish daily newspaper in English was the "Palestine Post."
  • The United Jewish Appeal was the United Palestine Appeal.
  • Indeed, the Brittanica's entry on HaRav Avraham Yitzchak Kook titles him the "Chief Rabbi of Palestine."
  • "Palestine" was a name that the Roman conquerors superimposed on the Land of Israel two thousand years ago, in their effort to separate the Jews from the land, os they named it for the Biblical Philistines.

Until the recent widespread availability of English-language cable television, Arabs in the region could not even pronounce "Palestine" because of their shibboleth that causes all their efforts to pronounce a "p" to come out as a "b." (In the movie and play "The Band's Visit," the whole underlying bremise is that a berson was subbosed to burchase bus tickets to "Petach Tikvah," but bronounced it as "Bet Hatikvah." They could not bronounce a "p.") If "Palestine" were not Israel, would Arabs have named themselves by a word they could not even bronounce?

(The same phenomenon explains how the Ancient Romans' effort to re-name Biblical Shechem, changing it to carry the name of the Italian city of Naples — based on Neapolis ("New City") — over time came to be bronounced as "Nablus.")

Thus, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria perhaps are adumbrated in the Torah: a "lo am" — a non-nation. Deut. 32:21. They had no authority to have an "Authority." Nor did any Israeli government ever have authority to detour Jewish destiny in Judea and Samaria. And yet we gave parts of it to them.

When Yeshayahu (Isaiah) speaks of Moshiach's arrival time, he quotes G-d: "b'ita achishenah" — Messiah will come "in its time; I will hasten it." Is. 60:22. Our rabbis explain: If we are deserving, G-d will bring Moshiach faster, hastening his arrival. If not, G-d still will send Messiah, but only at the later pre-ordained ultimate arrival date. Thus, in our rabbis' words, sometimes we bring problems on ourselves: mipnei chata-einu, because of our sins.

It took an Israeli Knesset to create the "Palestine Authority." Without such consent, it could not have happened. We gave them control over television stations, radios, newspapers, schools, kindergartens, and summer camps to teach unspeakable hate of Jews to new generations of children they have been empowered to educate this past quarter century.

Consider: With the end of World War II, Germany, Italy — even the emperor's Japan — started teaching their citizens democracy and friendship with the United States — despite Dresden, despite Nagasaki, despite Hiroshima. In time, new generations grew up in those lands allied with the United States and Western democracy. By contrast, Arafat and Abu Mazen (aka Mahmoud Abbas), given the same opportunity, reared their generations to hate. And yet, despite the terrible errors of Israel's leaders, Jewish destiny continually has thwarted each and every effort to cede any part of Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Rabin tried to negotiate giving it up, backed by a minority-elected Knesset government that relied further on the turncoat votes of unscrupulous politicos who sold their souls and changed political parties in return for political promotions that included salary increases, a government car, and a better lifetime pension.

He was succeeded immediately by Shimon Peres who instantly inherited more than 90% public popularity after the horrific assassination, and Peres leveraged that instant popularity to call for early elections, prepared to negotiate giving up much of Judea and Samaria as soon as he would win his anticipated new lopsided Knesset. G-d hardened the hearts of the Arab terrorists who rampaged with bus bombings. Peres could not stop the bombings, his popularity plummeted, and even terrified Israeli leftists voted in Bibi Netanyahu so they could ride on buses again.

Netanyahu was wildly popular upon being elected, but in time misunderstood the source of that popularity and allowed himself to be pressured to sign the Wye Accords that compromised Hevron. Overnight, events driven by Jewish destiny drove down his popularity, and Ehud Barak ("Mr. Security") was elected to replace him. Barak entered as wildly popular, and he even managed to cede South Lebanon prematurely and unilaterally, creating a fortified Hezbollah sub-country, but Barak next started negotiating with Arafat in Bill Clinton's house to give over Judea and Samaria, and even East Jerusalem, and even Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount).

Jewish destiny would not allow it, and G-d miraculously hardened Arafat's cruel heart, with Arafat irrationally and miraculously rejecting everything for which he ostensibly had been fighting since he rose to lead the PLO and Fatah in 1964. A horrible Intifada ensued with horrible images like the Arab with the hands of blood in Ramallah, and the Tomb of Joseph ablaze in Shechem — and Jewish destiny drove Barak out by a landslide for Ariel Sharon.

Arik Sharon came in as a wildly popular Prime Minister, and he soon thereafter ceded Gush Katif and Gaza prematurely and unilaterally, creating the Hamas terror state. But then Sharon challenged Jewish destiny by next focusing "Kadimah" (Eastward, the very name of his political party) to cede Judea and Samaria unilaterally. He first sustained a significant mini-stroke, perhaps a warning that allowed him to reflect, while not permanently stopping a man whose merits included heroics in defending Israel in the 1950s, during the 1967 war, and especially in the 1973 War. Perhaps.

Who among us possibly can know? He recovered and immediately returned to his prioritized focus on ceding Judea and Samaria, but before he could reverse Jewish destiny he sustained an overwhelming second stroke that removed him permanently from the scene. Maybe it was just bad medical care and excessive blood thinners caused by the best team of physicians in one of the most advanced medical societies. Maybe it was just bad luck, bad personal health practices, weight issues. Who among us can know?

In came Ehud Olmert. Initially, also popular — until he started trying to cede Judea and Samaria. Then, unexpectedly, Hezbollah kidnapings happened in the north, and Olmert ended up enmeshed in a war in South Lebanon against Hezbollah, putting a halt to his defiance of Jewish destiny. He proved utterly unlearned in matters of war, even as he also had the least qualified Israeli Defense Minister in the country's history, Amir Peretz, a mere labor union leader who temporarily led the Labor Party and leveraged his coalition negotiations to demand the Defense portfolio.

Between Olmert and Peretz, they failed to enter South Lebanon for too long, perhaps born of Peretz's hesitation to cross picket lines, and watched helplessly as Israel sustained tons of devastating rocket attacks in the north, forcing much of the population to flee. When a rocket finally reached Haifa, they were finished politically, even as Olmert thereafter came under fire for financial defalcations. Today there is no Kadimah Party, and there is a shell of a Labour Party. And there are nearly 800,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Full cycle back to Netanyahu. Under the second, more sustained round of Netanyahu terms in the Premiership, He partly learned, partly was chastened by the answers he got from Wye, and has been handed by Jewish destiny a Hamas whose rockets reach farther north than ever, a Hezbollah whose rockets extend farther south than ever, and no practicable option ever again to cede Judea and Samaria, its strategic mountain ranges, nor to reduce Israel to nine miles width.

There are now some 450,000 religious and secular Jews living in post-1967 Judea and Samaria (not counting East Jerusalem, which is home to another 325,000 Jews). That is nearly 800,000 Jews in the "Occupied Arab Territories." Only a full-scale Nazi Panzer onslaught can uproot nearly a million Jews from their homes. They now comprise 10% or more of Israel's Jews. Together with other religious Jews in pre-1967 Israel who have gained a glimpse of Israel's destiny, they hold the balance in elections, in the Knesset.

In America, no one can ignore the Black Vote, a minority that comprises some ten percent of the electorate. Nor can American politicians ignore the Hispanic Vote that carries similar and growing numerical weight. And no Israeli government can uproot ten percent of its population, nearly a million people. It is utterly impossible, short of a Nazi-style Panzer campaign, to uproot 800,000 people of any race or ethnicity from their homes. On top of that, any Israeli political leader who even contemplated it earlier, when the numbers were easier, was foiled by the inexorable march of Jewish destiny, whether defeated by a wave of bus bombings, or after signing a treaty harming Hevron, or after an unprecedented Intifada after offering to give up almost everything, or sidelined by a powerful stroke, or defeated by unexpected kidnapings that led to fighting a war without dexterity and getting caught cheating financially in his spare time, or confronted by a new era of Hamas and Hezbollah rockets.

One easily can imagine how a next Israeli Prime Minister, too, can find his term in office sharply reduced if he defies the Jewish people's destiny to be sovereign in Judea and Samaria.

For those of us who perceive miracles in the 1948 War of Independence where an unarmed country beat seven invading nations by dropping soda bottles from the sky and managing to arm some concentration-camp survivors with Czech rifles, then won a war in 100 hours against mighty Egypt in 1956, then won a war in six days that was fought on three fronts against five armies swearing to drive the Jews to the sea, then won another war and even encircled the enemy's mighty Third Army on the brink of annihilating all of them in the Sinai after initially appearing to be on the verge of their own destruction in 1973 — it is hard to miss the direction of Jewish destiny in Judea and Samaria.

Israel faced a Ford-Kissinger "Reassessment" policy. A Jew-hating Jimmy Carter. One George Bush with an overtly anti-Semitic James Baker as Secretary of State. Another George Bush and a simplistic "Rose Garden" policy that fantasized "Two States." In between, a Clinton who hosted Arafat at the White House more than he did any other international visitor. An Obama and a Biden and a Hillary and a Kerry — one threatening, one insulting, one screaming, and one allowing the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israel with a resolution that the successor Administration nullified with a simple pen stroke.

Through it all, at every juncture Jewish destiny interrupted efforts to cede Judea and Samaria. Arafat irrationally turned down a silver platter. Abu Mazen wasted eight years of Obama, refusing to conduct talks that would have been conducted brutally by Obama, Hillary, and Kerry. And when the time was right, a new President entered who recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and then recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Does the United Nations matter to Jewish destiny? As HaRav Yosef ber Soloveitchik zt"l once wrote, perhaps the only reason that the U.N. ever came into being was to formalize the creation of Israel.

Does it matter that Arafat and Abu Mazen were given "observer status" at the U.N.? With it, they have had the opportunity to observe all they like, as the nearly 800,000 number of Jews continues increasing towards a million, even as the Israeli Jewish birthrate continues rising while the Arab birthrate there continues plummeting. They can observe all they like. As long as Jews do what Jews need to do, nothing changes. Ehud Barak can run for Prime Minister again. Barack Obama watches aimlessly as his every prior initiative is undone before his eyes by his successor, from feeble trade agreements to a spineless Iran deal to climate accords. Like dust, like a soft breeze, they pass.

If Rashida Tlaib finds it "calming" that the Holocaust happened with the encouragement and assistance of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jersualem, with Arab pogroms that saw them massacre Jews in Israel-Palestine during 1920-21, 1929, and 1936-39, then others may find it calming that Jewish destiny marches on, with Israel moving ever-closer to extending Jewish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

Indeed, somewhere in Judea and Samaria, while this is being read, another Jewish baby is born. The Jews of Judea and Samaria ain't goin' anywhere they don't want to go.

Trailer Exodus 1960

Maybe That's What's Wrong With You: Exodus (1960)

The Band's Visit | Official Trailer (2007)

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About the Author

Rabbi Dov Fischer
Rabbi Dov Fischer, an attorney, adjunct professor of law, and contributing editor of The American Spectator, is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and holds prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He has been Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in the American Spectator, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News.

Website: Rabbidov.com