Monday, November 3, 2003

The Real Consensus

The Real Consensus
November 3, 2003

When I opened up the word processor this morning I hadn’t decided whether to write about the battle over Netzarim or the new European survey which determined that Israel tops the list: Israel is the greatest danger to world peace.

Then I opened the newspaper – not generally a good way to start the day. I’d advise anyone wanting to start the day with a smile to avoid the printed press, and if possible, the radio (and TV) too. It certainly won’t add anything to your mood.

I don’t have any choice – it’s my job. I skimmed the first section of the Jerusalem Post and turned by attention to the Comment and Opinions section. Sigh; Sigh; Sigh;

The headline article, written by Yosef Goell is called ‘Recognizing consensus’ [].

Goell differentiates between two kinds of  ‘settlements’ – those within the public consensus and those on the other side. For example, French Hill, Gilo, Ramot, Ramat Eshkol, to name a few, fall within public consent. They are no longer considered to be settlements, despite that fact that prior to the 1967 Six day War, they were on the ‘other side of the border.’ Why? “…Because such a large number of Israelis actually went to live there and invested their lives and their own money there.”

However, according to Goell, the rest of Judea, Samaria and Gaza “was never within the Israeli consensus.” For this reason, he writes that “eventually many settlements-but certainly not all-will have to be vacated. Annexation of all the territories has never been in the cards. The absence of a consensus means that most Israelis will come to actively oppose the further sacrifice of soldiers in defense of indefensible – and militarily purposeless – outposts.”

Goell also mentions a document published by the Israel Democracy Institute called, ‘The Political and Social Significance of Evacuating Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza’ []. This position paper, written by none other than a kippa-wearing Jew, Yair Sheleg, is premised on the assumption that Israel will evict Jews from their homes throughout Yesha. The report discusses political and social implications of dealing with a positive decision to transfer Israelis from their homeland. Of course it includes various scenarios, such as Israeli ‘settlers’ opening fire on their brethren during a forces evacuation, preemptive ‘Israeli terror,’ and a ‘civil rebellion.’ The author also takes upon himself the role of moderator, providing solutions to expected problems: “On account of these dangers, the report includes a recommended policy that could temper the expected damage.”

The concept of Jewish transfer is not new, but, as with the above examples, has again raised its ugly head, making waves in the public domain. Following the killing of three soldiers by terrorists just outside the Netzarim in Gush Katif less than two weeks ago, left wing politicians claimed that there are too many soldiers guarding too few people in the community.  Shinui party Justice minister Yosef ‘Tommy’ Lapid went so far as to suggest a ‘deal’ with the terrorists: their promise to disband terror organizations in return for an Israeli guarantee to uproot Netzarim within ten months. (This morning Maariv newspaper reported that right-wing members of Shinui described this proposal as ‘spitting in the face of the party.’)

Let’s say that there really are too many soldiers guarding too few people. The solution is simple. Allow more Jews to move into Yesha. In Hebron, for example, it can literally take years for the Jewish community to receive building permits for construction on Jewish-owned land in the city. Arabs, on the other hand, do whatever they so desire. Presently our next door neighbor enemies are carrying out major renovations in neighborhoods adjacent to the Jewish neighborhoods and next to Ma’arat HaMachpela. They are restoring ruins, unoccupied for decades. They have no proof of ownership and no permits, but the work continues. Why are we forbidden from constructing freely on land we own? Why is it virtually impossible to buy property from Arabs interested in selling? Why won’t the Israeli government allow us to live in housing legally purchased from Arabs in Hebron over the years? Why is it that any money budgeted to Yesha is headline news but financial aid to Kibbutzim or millions of shekels to left-wing sponsored culture, including anti-Israel – pro-Arab plays and movies are automatically OK?

However, I’m not entirely sure that the above assumption is correct. Today there are almost 250,000 Jews living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Over the past year alone, the population has grown 5.6 percent. Since the Oslo War began, the population has risen in the vicinity of fifteen percent. This, during the most difficult three years the country has known since the establishment of the State. This, while Jews throughout the country, but especially in Yesha, have been targeted, killed and wounded by the hundreds. This, while Yesha’s population has been villainized by the Israeli left, by the media and by most of the world. This can be most recently viewed through the sunglasses of an article printed in today’s HaAretz newspaper, titled, ‘American spy chiefs want more pressure on settlements’  [ ]. The subtitle tells the story: ‘To relieve hostility towards the U.S., calm situation in Iraq.’

In other words, my presence in Hebron, my daughter’s presence in Gush Katif, my son’s presence in the Shomron – we are responsible, together with another 240,000 Jews, for the fact that Americans are being killed in Iraq. We are responsible for continued terrorism against the United States. Of course, the message is clear: Israeli settlement of Yesha is ultimately responsible for 9/11, and the inescapable conclusion is that the ‘war’ President George Bush declared against terrorism is actually a war against the Jews.

Nu, so what’s new?

To Yosef Goell, to Tommy Lapid, to the author of the above-mentioned recommendations, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, Carl Ford, to CIA director George Tenet, to Secretary of State Colin Powell, to all of the others, in Israel, in Europe, and around the world, I have a surprise revelation for you. Actually it’s not so new – it goes back quite a ways. This coming Saturday we will read the third Torah portion of the New Year – called, in Hebrew, Lech Lecha, which means “Go – You Go.” This was a command given by G-d to Abraham, telling him to leave his home ‘for the Land I will show you.’ That land being, of course, Eretz Yisrael. Later in the portion we read of the covenant decreed between G-d and Abraham, a covenant between G-d and not only Abraham, but also Abraham’s offspring, promising that the children of Israel will inherit the Land, the Land of Israel, an eternal bond, from almost the beginning of time, to today.

In reply to Goell’s consensus complaints, one must take into consideration not only the millions of Jews who now live in Israel, but the generations upon generations of Jews who lived in Israel, from the days of Abraham onward,  the generations of Jews who were expelled from the Land, the generations of Jews who dared dream of living in Israel, in Jerusalem, in Shechem, in Beit El, in Hebron. The consensus is the mass conscious of the Jewish people, Jews who lived with visions of  Temple Mount, Ma’arat HaMachpela, Joseph’s Tomb and Rachel’s Tomb – Jews who marveled with the thought of working the land and walking the land and Jews who died with ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’ on their lips, in their souls.  This is the consensus whose ideals will be fulfilled, whose dreams will be lived. This is the consensus of the people of Israel living in Eretz Yisrael. The real consensus.

With blessings from Hebron,
David Wilder

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