Of course, every Israeli Jew dreams about a Greater Israel which is free of the Jewish-Arab dispute, maybe by an Act of G-d, maybe by a (voluntary or non-voluntary) transfer of all the Arabs to the Arab countries, maybe otherwise, but, as Bismarck said, “Politics is the art of the possible”.
Every junior salesman knows well the keyword for overcoming objections and reservations: “suppose”.
Now let us ask an American: “Suppose – just suppose – you are asked to give away one granule of soil, a ‘marginal’ tiniest piece of the American country, in return for eternal peace and economic prosperity … would you say yes”?
I’m sure that every American would be glad for such a “deal”: No more war, no more bloodshed, no more hunger on earth, forever and forever – all that for but one granule of soil.
Now the question will be “what about two granules, three …”, and so on, tending to the final “price”, which is giving away the whole land, the whole country, up to the last granule left: every American will give his own answer, but no one will evade the answer about the first granule just because the consecutive ones are harder and harder as the price for peace and prosperity is higher.
In Israel it isn’t so easy, since giving-away of territories has both security and religion implications. My suppose-question to my Israeli compatriots is therefore different: “Suppose – just suppose – you are asked to give away one ‘marginal’ granule of soil of Israeli land – under absolute international guaranties to your satisfaction, for Israel’s security – In return for eternal peace with the Arab world, including the Palestinians … would you say yes”?
I have no problem with those who say “yes, but tell me what guaranties are we offered”, nor do I have any difficulties with those who say “absolutely no, under any guaranty”, even if the guaranties are to their absolute satisfaction.
The latter ones are honest enough to say that the Holy Land is not ours, but a deposit from G-d, and we are not allowed to give away any granule of sand, even if we have to endure thousands of years of bloodshed.
Such religious arguments you can accept or reject, but you can’t argue with, and you have to respect – as I do – even if you don’t agree with them.
The problem starts with those who aren’t honest – even with themselves – and their answer is: “Nobody can guarantee Israel’s security, nobody will do it, and if anybody will – we should not trust them”. This, of course, is not an honest answer, because it “adjusts” the suppose-question to fit the political opinion of the answerer.
Now, before I go on, I must give my answer to the same question, if I were asked it. My answer is that if – under absolute international guaranties, to my satisfaction, for Israel’s security – I am asked to give away one granule of soil of Israeli land In return for eternal peace with the Arab world, including the Palestinians, my answer will be positive, without any hesitation.
My answer is positive, since according to the principles of Judaism – as I understand and interpret them – human life is more sacred than a granule of sand.
After such an answer I must be honest and answer the consecutive questions, about the second, third etc., granule of sand – where is my limit? Moreover, if the guaranties offered are a “granule” less than absolute, two, three “granules” etc. less than absolute… where is my limit?
To such questions I don’t answer, since they are political ones, and I’ve avowedly stated that I don’t express political views. I don’t express political views, because as a general publicist I have no desire to be regarded as “politically-oriented”. It is the last thing I wish.
Of course, every Israeli Jew (including me) dreams about a Greater Israel which is free of the Jewish-Arab dispute, maybe by an Act of G-d, maybe by a (voluntary or non-voluntary) transfer of all the Arabs to the Arab countries, maybe otherwise, but, as Otto Von Bismarck said, “Politics is the art of the possible”, and within the “bounds of the possible” there must necessarily be some compromise, including a territorial one.
The readiness to a compromise, to my view, is not a political attitude, but just weighting of values, and when my leaders will ask for my consenting vote to any arrangement with the Arab world, I will vote – pro or con.
When the Jewish yishuv under the British Mandate for Palestine (1920-1948) had struggled for independence, David Ben Gurion, the leader of the Medina ba’Derech (the state in creation), said: “We must support the (British – S.N.) army as though there were no White Paper (set of Mandatory regulations, enacted in 1939, limiting Jewish immigration and purchase of lands by Jews – S.N.), and fight the White Paper as though there were no war (against the Nazis – S.N.)“, and in a similar way I ask my compatriots for an answer to the religious aspect as distinct from the security one, and to the security aspect as distinct from the religious one, but I almost never get a straightforward answer.
And this point brings me to the article This land is not for steal or sale or deal, by Helen Freedman (Palm Beach Jewish Journal, December 23, 2009).
This article starts with a Chizuk Mission to Israel, conducted in common by Americans for a Safe Israel/Afsi and Manhigut Yehudit, an extra-parliamentary (by now) radical right-wing religious movement. Such a joining-together clamps each partner thereof to each other, in a situation on which it is said “doubtful it stood, as two spent swimmers that do cling together and choke their art” (Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 2).
Now suppose – just suppose! – one has a very deep concern for the safety of Israel and the Israelis, but being a secular Jew has no special interest in any specific “marginal” soil granule of the Holy Land. Suppose he wishes to contribute to the “chizuk” (Hebrew: strengthening) of Israel, but believes that adherence to Greater Israel brings no safety but weakening and eternal bloodshed to both Israel and its neighbours … what has he to do in such a mission?
Sticking to slogans like “this land is not for steal or sale or deal” is good for honest people who believe in G-d, and their observance of the religious mitsvot is prior to the safety of Israel and to sanctity of human lives. Many of them truly and honestly believe that there exists a complete coincidence between the religious observance (including the sanctity of the Promised Land, up to the last granule) and the security of Israel. They believe that only G-d will safeguard His people, but 70 years ago He failed to “supply the goods” (as we say in Israel), and there is no guarantee for the future.
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