FACING THE TRUTH
By Boris Shusteff
It does not matter how many times one repeats that a black car is in reality a white one; it will not change its color. If it is black, the only way to make it white is to send it to an auto shop and paint it white. It is equally useless to perform surgery on one's knee, if one has appendicitis, in order to cure the illness. The more one tries to hide the truth, the more difficult the situation gets. Israel's predicament today arises from her unwillingness to admit that the Oslo accords are simply the continuation of a struggle for land that started not in 1967 and not at the beginning of the century, but far earlier.
It is the same battle that the Jews have fought since the destruction of the Second Temple. It is the same battle that had among its milestones the Balfour declaration, the San-Remo Conference, the British White Paper and the United Nations Partition Resolution 181. It is the same battle that brought forth the revisionist movement in Zionism. It is the struggle for sovereignty over the land. It is the battle for the Jewish state.
States are not born through design of nature. They are born through the conquest of land. This truth has been known for millennia. In our enlightened age no nation likes to be reminded of the way it came to possess the territory it occupies today. Perhaps this is the reason why Israel's existence is uncomfortable to so many nations. As Avi Erlich wrote in Ancient Zionism, "The ancient Hebrews may be the only people who preserved stories that present ancestors as intruders in their own land. They told detailed stories of how Abraham, a native of Ur in Sumeria, ingratiated his way into Canaan and then bought his first toehold; they also faced squarely the bloody details of Joshua's conquest of lands that had belonged to others."
Other nations fought for their sovereignty with much greater brutality and savageness but neither of them documented their deeds in a book that was granted to all of mankind. Moreover, while the Jews did not even dream of conquering any other lands, after settling in Eretz Yisrael, the majority of other people mercilessly obliterated their neighbors in order to expand their domain and build vast empires. As Erlich wrote, contrary to other people the Jews understood that "nations represent ideas and values, not merely powers and interests." The Hebrews many thousand years ago "possessed a unifying idea that made a Land out of disparate territories."
The Hebrews also understood that these ideas and values could not be separated from the Land. Erlich wrote, "The Land was not to be taken for granted. Its terms were rigorous: The ancient Hebrew had to apprehend the Land in order to conquer and hold it." The monotheistic idea of the Jews was inseparable from the Land. One served as a justification for the other. Avi Erlich wrote:
"The ancient Hebrews told themselves that God gave them the lands of Canaan, but only on condition that these lands be used to represent a set of ideas. The Hebrews also told themselves that God explicitly forbade them other lands - so there could be no empire - and they told themselves that if they failed to use the lands of Canaan to represent monotheism, they would lose both the signifying Land and civilization for which it stood."
This constant link - God - Land - the Jewish people - is the answer to the miraculous unprecedented survival of the Jews. The dream of the return to Eretz Yisrael was that eternal flame that kept the Jewish people alive against all possible and impossible odds. The fifty years of reestablished statehood somehow blinded a lot of Israeli Jews. Some of them preferred to forget, and some did not even learn the magic formula God - Land - the Jewish people. These people were ready to abandon any element of the formula and often all of the elements. They replaced Judaism and Zionism with Universalism trying through this to escape their own Jewishness. They became ready to share Eretz Yisrael with their enemies, completely ignoring the enemies' intentions.
Contrary to the Jews, hallucinating peace mirages, the Arabs are extremely realistic and explicit in their words and deeds. On April 7, 1998, the Gaza Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi said in an interview with IMRA:
"There is this area called Palestine which you call Israel around which a struggle is going on. According to historical facts and religious ones we are the owners of this land. The Israelis say that they came here three thousand years ago and it is their right to establish their state here. We will not give up this land to the Israelis and they won't give it up to us. Accordingly, the struggle and conflict will continue."
The Arabs are not afraid to be accused of "racist and genocidal" policies. In every suitable forum they loudly call for a war against the Jewish state. On April 7, 1998, in Mecca, Abdel-Rahman al-Sidess, one of the three imams at the Grand Mosque, declared in a sunrise sermon, "How can Muslims stand idle in front of this bunch of aggressors? We have to raise the banner of jihad to liberate our holy Jerusalem from the malicious Zionism and we hope that day will be soon."
The Arabs lead the struggle for the land on all levels: military, propagandistic and political. On March 25, 1998, in Cairo, the Arab League Council adopted a resolution in which it "asked the Arab countries to try to persuade the Vatican to sign an agreement with the Palestinian Authority affirming the Palestinians' sovereignty over the Holy Land."
The Arabs call it "Palestinian land," "our land," and "land occupiedby Israeli aggressors." The Israeli government shyly calls it "administrated territories," "territories required for security reasons," and "specified military locations."On April 1, 1998 in an article published in London's Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat Yasser Arafat's adviser Bassam Abu-Sharif, rebutted Israel's "security approach,"
"The theory (of Israel's security), which is based on occupying the land of others and regarding the Jordan River and its valley as a security necessity for Israel, has ... collapsed. ...The security of states in this age can only be achieved through political agreements. Occupying others' land will never achieve security for any state; in fact, such occupation would be the main source of insecurity and violence."
Abu-Sharif is absolutely right. It is a must for Israel to stop running away from the truth and admit that Judea, Samaria and Gaza is not some sort of a territory but an indispensable part of the Jewish homeland. Israel should immediately master a wide propagandistic campaign to prepare the world community for Israel's annexation of Yesha.We made a terrible mistake by allowing the world to think that we do not care about Yesha. Our excuses and apologies for living in Yesha swung world public opinion toward the Arabs. For two thousand years of exile we never renounced our claim to Eretz Yisrael. When we reunited with it, we started selling out. This policy of land betrayal will bring us only to disaster. It is like an avalanche. One little stone brings another, then another, then a bigger one, and soon a morass of stones and boulders impetuously rushes down the hill sweeping away everything it encounters on its path. So the abandonment of Yesha will drag with it Golan, the Gallilee, Jerusalem and inevitable demise of the Jewish state. Yesha is Jewish land. Yesha is our land. Yesha is the land we longed for.
We must not give it to anyone. It is the heart of Eretz Yisrael. It is bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. We do not need to look for any explanations to prove this. This is self-explanatory. As man needs the air to breathe, as the trees need the sun to grow, so the Jewish people need Yesha to stay alive. [4/9/98]
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.