Settlements and Peace

If, in theory, dismantling settlemets would bring about peace and a cessation of teror and hostility, most would agree that it is justified. After all, Judaism allows all Torah commandments save idolatry, adultery and murder, to be violated if it is necessary to save a life. One can certainly argue that achieveing peace is a life-saving accomplishment.

On the other hand, the Jewish People are commanded to dwell in their land. That is even obligatory if it means fighting. Otherwise, what is the difference between the West Bank and Tel Aviv? If Israel voluntarily dismantles itself and all the Jews move to the US, that may be said to bring about peace and save lives. Yet no one in their right mind would suggest such a thing.

So is one part of the Land of Israel different than the whole of the Land? I think yes, and historically we find that King Solomon gave cities in the North to the King of Tyre. So perhaps a small territorial gift that enables the rest to live in peace is justified.

The problem with all this talk is that it is based on a theoretical that is non-existent. There is no guarantee that ceding territory and dismantling settlements will bring peace. There is a guarantee that it would weaken Israel strategically. It seems to me that the "life-saving" argument actually goes the other way and forbids giving away territory.

But it's not just theory, there is precedent. Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza strip. Thousands of families in dozens of settlements were uprooted. The end result? Missile fire and terrorism. No peace.

There is no reason to think that further uprootings would have any different result.

Also, the western world does not know how small Israel is. To leave the post '67 areas would again leave Israel with a narrow belly of only 11 miles! Imagine putting enemy guns across the Hudson and trying to keep New York safe. Same deal. The heavily populated central Israel area would be only 11 miles from Arabs. If they follow Gaza precedent, all of Tel Aviv will be in and out of bomb shelters.

Nope, saving lives implies keeping the settlements and the territories. Only if there is a clear destination of peace could we even think of compromise. There is no such destination, and there is no partner ready for it. If they wanted peace, they'd have had it long ago. They want Israel to be theirs to transform into Palestine, and eliminate the Jewish State.

Read the news, the leaders can't bring themselves to recognize that Israel is a Jewish State.

Sorry to disappoint, but reality must be faced.

Jewish Ownership of Israel

Abraham was granted ownership over the whole Land of Canaan, soon to be the Land of Israel, by God Himself. Thus, he had ownership over all the properties he could have needed. So when he needed a burial plot for his dear wife, Sarah, he just needed to ask.

And so he asked Efron, the Hittite, for the Cave of Machpela which was at the edge of his property. Efron and those with him insisted that Abraham can use any plot he wishes, but Abraham insists that Efron "Give it to me" and he will pay full price. In other words, Abraham wants to pay for a gift. He does not say "Sell it to me". That seems strange. Why ask for a gift, and then offer to pay for it? Why not just buy it outright, or accept the gift outright?

A further question about this section. This is the very first land acquisition of Abraham in the Land of Canaan. It is to be used as a burial plot. Why did Abraham not purchase any land previously, for more life-affirming purposes? Why start with a cemetery?

I believe this section is teaching the Jewish People how to relate to all the hatred coming our way from many corners in the world as it relates to our Land. The Palestinian Authority routinely denies any Jewish historical link to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. They deny that any Jewish Temple stood on the Temple Mount, despite all the Biblical history and archeological evidence. And around the world are many, way too many, voices questioning the right of the Jewish People to a state in their Land.

Abraham teaches us to relate on two levels, for two different audiences. For those who simply don't know the facts, and would hold different opinions if they did, Abraham insisted on a completely above doubt acquisition of the Cave of Machpela. It should be a gift, so that the Hittites who give it do so with all their heart, and not simply as a matter of economic expediency. When Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, that sale was never properly internalized by Esau. He was bitter when Jacob took the blessing of Isaac that went with the birthright. After all, felt Esau, I only sold it to Jacob because I was hungry. I didn't really mean it. Abraham wanted to make sure that Efron and the Hittites really meant it.

Secondly, he wanted to pay full price to remove the possibility that Efron might later change his mind. If it would be only a gift, Efron would still feel the land was somewhat his, and he could retract his gift in the future. Abraham wanted to make sure that did not happen, so he paid the price.

Thus, the first approach is to incessantly combat the lies with evidence. Show the world that Jerusalem already had a Jewish majority more than a century ago. Tell how Jews have lived in this land uninterrupted since Biblical times. Prove our roots here through archeology, historical sources and Biblical sources.

Further, show how deceitful the "Palestinians" have been about it. Show how they have no history here as a national entity, and how they are, indeed, an invented people. Refute the lies about how Israel mistreats Arabs and spread the news about how Israel gives more opportunity to the Arabs than they get anywhere else in the Arab world. Tell the world the accurate truth. Someone is listening. Maybe not everyone, but someone.

The second approach is for those whom proof and argument are of no interest. It is the approach of actions, of facts on the ground. How so?

The Jewish faith teaches the principle of the Revival of the Dead at the end of the Messianic Era. In fact, the life we will experience after coming back will be much the richer. Judaism is a forward looking religion, and death is only a precursor to greater life.

The Talmud tells a story of a pagan Queen asking a Sage whether the dead who are revived will be naked or clothed? The sage responds, "clothed." He infers it from the planting of a seed, which is naked. When it grows as a flower, it has beautiful garments (petals, leaves). Thus, the dead who already have some garments will come back with full clothing.

The comparison to the seed is telling. Burial, death, is not an end, but a beginning. Our first round on this earth is to acquire reward for our good deeds, which will return to "clothe" us at the future Era of the Messiah.

Now, not every crop can grow in every type of soil. Corn would fail in the desert. We believe that the Land of Israel is a living, breathing thing, which has a unique spiritual "mineral content". It is uniquely suited for growing Israelites. Abraham "planted" the seed of the long future of his people by burying Sarah. His first purchase was to be viewed as a beginning of an eternal bond.

The Torah prophecies that, during the exile, the land would be "burned, not arable or crop-producing." And so it was for centuries. Read Mark Twain's account of his visit in the 1800s. The Land was desolate.

Until the Jewish People returned. Then, things began to blossom and bloom. Today, Israel is greener than ever. The naturalness of our presence here is visible to all. It's like the lost dog who naturally runs to its owner. You just know.

That's what Abraham taught us to do, to sink roots. To build, to plant, to believe. To respect the sanctity of the Land and live in harmony with it. The more we do that, the more it will naturally bond with us, and all enemies will simply not be able to break that bond. Put facts on the ground, have faith in a glorious future. That is the best way to combat the hatred.