THE JEWISH MANDATE
By Boris Shusteff
The Jews who wish for a State will have it.......(Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State).
In 1947 the United Nations decided to terminate the British Mandate for Palestine. It was obvious that Britain had failed miserably at the task of reestablishing the Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael. It was not a big surprise, since the British did not really want to do that. Pursuing their political interests they decided to "withhold application of the provisions of the Mandate" on 77% of the mandated land, and on it they created Jordan - an Arab state. In 1948, at the time that Israel picked up the leftovers of the Palestine Mandate, only 23% of the mandated territory were available for "close Jewish settlement on the land." However, the international community did not want to allow even these pitiful crumbs to fall into Jewish possession and suggested dividing up the remaining land, proposing to give another big part to the Arabs.
The injustice and unfairness of this proposal for the Jews is the topic of a separate discussion; the point remains that the Jews, bleeding after the Holocaust, agreed to accept the mandate for "Palestine," if one can even use this word to describe the remaining lands. The Arabs, who at that time already had one "Palestine," which they called Jordan, forfeited their chance to declare another Arab state (since UN Resolution 181, which recommended the creation of both a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine, unequivocally stated that the "state shall come into existence in any case NOT LATER than 1 October 1948").
Instead, the Arabs launched a war with the hope of destroying Israel, but lost it. Thus, at the end of the first Arab-Israeli War the formerly Mandated territory was "shared" by Jordan and Israel, with Jordan possessing almost 82% of what had once been called Palestine. After the Six Day War Israel, by regaining the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha), reestablished the 23% to 77% proportion, in the distribution of Palestine's land, though not even coming close to correcting the injustice inflicted on the Jews by Britain in 1922.
The British Mandate for Palestine was not the first one related to this territory. The original Mandate for the Land was given to the Jews not by the world community but by the Almighty. There was no League of Nation or United Nations when the Jewish people received for the first time the Mandate for Eretz Yisrael. It is because of this Mandate from God, and not because of their love for the Jews, that the world community recognized the Jews' rights to Eretz Yisrael and, in San Remo, passed the Mandate to Britain for the re-establishment of the Jewish state, declaring in the preamble that "the recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine."
All of mankind was aware of the Mandate given to the Jews by God. This first real estate deed was registered in the holy book of the Jews - the Tanach:
"And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
It was registered in the holy book of the Christians - the Old Testament. "The Lord gave Moses the following instruction for Israel: 'When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, Occupy the land and settle in it, because I am giving it to you" (Numbers 33: 51-53). It was registered in the holy book of the Muslims - the Koran. "Bear in Mind the words of Moses to his people. He said: 'remember, my people, the favor which God has bestowed upon you. Enter, my people, the holy land which God has assigned for you. Do not turn back, and then lose all'" (Koran 5:20,21).
Britain failed the mandate after holding it for 25 years. Israel performed better. During her 52 years of having the mandate she has facilitated the ingathering of the exiles and the number of Jews in Eretz Yisrael has increased by 800% from the day of the establishment of the state. However, Israel then failed the mandate, too. The Jewish idea was cut out of the fabric of Israeli society. Israel was given the Mandate to built a Jewish state. This purpose has become completely diluted and Israel began using the Mandate to carve out of its territory an Arab state and a "democratic state of all its citizens."
This did not happen overnight. The disaster was breeding for many years. In the must-read book The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul Yoram Hazony somberly unravels the anatomy of Israel's de-Judaisation. He explains why more and more Israeli Jews are escaping from their Jewishness.
The May 9, 2000 Gallup Poll, published in Israel's daily Maariv, supports Hazony's concerns showing that Israel's "progress" along this road is significant. Asked "How would you define yourself first and foremost, as a Jew or as an Israeli?" 49% answered - Jew and 33% - Israeli. However, when asked, "If you had to choose between a democratic Israel unrelated to Judaism or a non-democratic Israel related to Judaism, which one would you choose?" 58% chose a democratic but non-Jewish state and only 25% preferred a Jewish but non-democratic country. This means that even those who define themselves as Jews are ready to push aside their Jewishness in favor of universalistic values.
It is this rejection by Israel of her Jewish essence, of the Jewish values and Judaism that makes her ineligible to hold the Mandate to Palestine any longer. The Mandate should be given to the Jewish Jews. It was a Jewish Mandate from the very beginning, it should become a Jewish Mandate again. Israeli leaders can say whatever they want about their Jewish roots and their attachment to the Jewish people: their actions, however, prove the opposite - they do not put the Jewishness of the state at the core of their decisions.
One should not be surprised that Israel is so eager to part with Yesha - the heart of Eretz Yisrael, since the majority of Israelis have no concept of Jewish history. Apparently the names Hevron, Sh'chem, Jericho, Elon Moreh, Betar, etc. do not speak to their souls. Hazony writes in the introduction of his book about an "intelligent Israeli young officer" to whom he "pointed out Tel Shiloh, as we drove by in our jeep, the ruins of what had for nearly four centuries been the capital of the confederate Jewish tribes before the establishment of the kingdom. "What kingdom?" he asked in all seriousness. From him I understood that even the educated in Israel do not necessarily know what Shiloh was, or who King David was, or what he achieved for the people" (2).
The Israelis are unaware not only of ancient history, they do not even know much about more recent events, and the Arabs exploit this very well. Saeb Erakat, one of the most educated people in Arafat's team negotiating with Israel, who definitely knows the map of the British mandate, speaking at the Washington National Press Club, on April 21, declared that "the Palestinians have accepted 23 percent of Mandatory Palestine." On May 17 the same 23% were mentioned in a Palestinian National Authority editorial, "the Palestinian people as a whole demand as a basis for peace the very minimum an independent, sovereign, peaceful and democratic state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (23% of Mandatory Palestine)" (3). By using this magic number the Palestinian Arabs have extended the West Bank to the Jordan River, thus "innocently" declaring that "as a basis for peace" they can accept Israel's disappearance, since 23% of Mandatory Palestine is exactly the size of Israel, including Yesha.
The truth must be spoken. The Jewish Jews will not negotiate about the covenanted land with the Arabs, only the Israelis will. The continuation of the so-called "peace process" becomes the litmus test of one's Jewishness. It is still not too late for the Jews to repent and to wake up from the hypnosis of Oslo. Hazony writes that he strongly believes that the majority of the Israeli Jews still cherish their Jewishness. They are the one who must take the Mandate for Palestine in their hands.
The Jews rejected the British Mandate. The time has come for the Jews to also reject Israel's handling of the Mandate. The Jews are the only people in the world that have legitimate rights to it. There are enough patriotic Jewish Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, who are ready to accept the Jewish Mandate. The Jewish Jews must take it over from the Israelis. The Israelis are tired from continuous struggle with the Arabs, and those that do not understand the purpose of the Jewish state must step aside and let the Jewish Jews become responsible for the Mandate. The Israelis have fulfilled their role: they did what they could, and now they must allow others to continue the work of building the Jewish state. Theodor Herzl wrote in The Jewish State, "He who will not come with us should remain behind. Let all who are willing join us, fall in behind our banner and fight for our cause with voice and pen and deed." The Jews who wish for a State will have it! [05/27/00]
1. James Parkes, Whose Land, Penguin Books, 1971.
2. Yoram Hazony, "The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul," Basic Books, 2000.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.