Israel Report

October 2002         

Jewish Communities on the West Bank:
an Obstacle to War

by Don Feder - October 7, 2002
The most widely accepted myth of Arab propagandists is that Jewish communities (AKA: settlements) in Judea and Samaria (AKA: The West Bank) are an obstacle to peace. The opposite is true: They are a barrier to the final jihad planned by Yasser Arafat and his unholy warriors.

Jewish roots are sunk deep in the hill country of Judea and Samaria – the region’s names from Biblical times until the Jordanian occupation of 1948-1967, when the Hashemite Kingdom renamed the area the West Bank (of the Jordan) to falsify a claim to the land.

Historically, Israel’s right to the West Bank is even better than its claim to the land within its pre-1967 borders. Abraham settled in Hebron, not Haifa. (All of the Patriarchs are buried in the Cave of Machpellah.) The Ark of the Covenant came to rest in Shiloh, not Tel Aviv. King David hailed from Bethlehem, not Herzliya.

For almost 1,500 years, the West Bank was part of a thriving Jewish nation. The very word “Jew” comes from the ancient name for part of the region – “Judea.” Except for brief periods of expulsion, from the Hebrews entry into the Promised Land under Joshua to the present – almost 4,000 years – there was a continuous Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

Throughout recorded history, there was never a sovereign Arab state either on the West Bank or in pre-’67 Israel. Try naming a Palestinian king. All of the Arab rulers of the land the Romans called Palestine (after their destruction of the last Jewish commonwealth in the 2nd century), resided in Istanbul, Cairo, Damascus or another Middle Eastern capital. After World War I, Britain was given the territory on both sides of the Jordan River to administer under a League of Nations mandate. (During the war, Her Majesty’s government had declared its intention to establish a Jewish homeland there.) In 1923, the British crown unilaterally lopped off 77% of the Mandate and presented it to the Arabs. This became the Kingdom of Transjordan.

During the 1948 War of Independence, when five Arab armies invaded Israel (with the avowed purpose of giving the Jews swimming lessons), Jordan illegally seized the West Bank and occupied it for 19 years. It expelled the Jews living there, desecrated Jewish holy sites, razed synagogues, used grave stones to line latrines and barred Jews from worshipping at The Wall, Judaism’s most sacred spot.

In 1967, in the course of resisting renewed Arab aggression, those it was promised to millennia ago liberated the West Bank. Jews began to return to the cradle of their civilization. Now, more than 250,000 of them live there in 175 thriving communities.

To the New York Times, these communities (several the size of cities) represent “the greatest Israeli obstacle to peace.” To residents, they mean homes and businesses, farms and factories, shops and schools, synagogues and yeshivas (religious academies).

On my last visit to the region in May, Shaul Goldstein, mayor of Gush Etzion, told me, “What Americans call a ‘settlement,’ we call a neighborhood.”

His neighborhood, nestled in the hills of Judea just 10 miles south of Jerusalem, strikes what Abraham Lincoln called “the mythic chords of memory.” The first modern Jewish community was established there early in the 20th century. Successive settlements were destroyed by Arab pogroms in the 1920s and ‘30s.

During the 1948 war, Kfar Etzion played a key role in the defense of Jerusalem. In three days, 151 defenders of what came to be known as the Etzion bloc fell in battle. At Kfar Etzion, the Arab Legion massacred a group of Jews who surrendered. After the Six-Day War, the sons and daughters of those who died defending it 20 years earlier resettled the town. Today, it’s a thriving community of orchards, light manufacturing, homes and schools. Should this pleasant town, built by decades of Jewish toil and paid for with Jewish blood, now be turned over to the descendants of murderers?

The propagandists never explain why 250,000 Jews living among 2 million West Bank Arabs (on 2% of the land) are an obstacle to peace, but 1 million Arabs living in the midst of 5 million Jews within Israel’s pre-1967 borders pose no comparable problem.

Hitler would have heartily approved of the drive to dismantle the settlements. As the first step toward his Final Solution, he made Germany Judenrein (free of Jews). His spiritual descendants intend to do the same with their nascent Palestinian state. Nurtured on decades of Hitlerian hatred, the Palestinians want to purge the land of what they view as a malign Jewish presence. That much of the international community embraces raw racism in the guise of self-determination shows the effectiveness of this particular big lie.

In an August interview in a London-based Arabic newspaper, Arafat made the connection between the Holocaust and his hopes for another round of genocide. The leader of the jihad described Hajj Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem during the 1930s, as “our hero.”

Al-Husseini spent World War II in Germany, as a personal guest of the fuhrer. The S.S. division he raised among Albanian Moslems sent thousands of Jews to the death camps. On March 1, 1944, al-Husseini delivered a speech in Berlin, broadcast throughout the Middle East, calling on Arabs to: “Rise as one and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them.”

Where Hitler and al-Husseini failed, Arafat intends to succeed – at least in the Middle East. First the settlements of Judea and Samaria are to be dismantled, followed in short order by the settlements known as Tel Aviv and Netanya. All who resist will be slaughtered; with the same ferocity that has marked Arafat’s war on those he calls the “settler-criminals.”

Besides pure hatred, there’s a strategic dimension to the Palestinian drive for a Judenrein state. Arabs have always intended the West Bank to be a staging area for the “liberation” of the rest of what they call Palestine.

Once the Jews are gone from Judea and Samaria and Palestinians have a sovereign state there, they’ll begin importing heavy armaments from Iraq, Iran and Syria. To the Western media, Arafat whines about the “illegal settlements” in the “occupied territories.” To his own people and other Arabs, he’s always boasted that the goal is to eliminate the Jewish presence on all of the land from the West Bank of the river Jordan to the Mediterranean sea. Demolishing Jewish communities in Biblical Israel is an important step toward “driving the Jews into the sea.”

Without Judea and Samaria, the rest of Israel is indefensible. Jerusalem would be surrounded on three sides by hostile territory. The mountains of Judea guard the costal plain, home to 70% of Israel’s population. In Israeli hands, invading armies from points east could be stopped by artillery on the heights. In Palestinian hands, rockets and mortars fired from those same heights could hit planes on the ground at Ben Gurion Airport. Tel Aviv would be target practice. Israel would have what Abba Eban called Auschwitz borders. Arab tank columns could cut the country in half at its then 12-mile wide waist. Palestinian guerrillas, acting as an advance column for an invading Arab army, could infiltrate the rump Jewish state, disrupt mobilization and communications, and create havoc behind the lines.

Gen. Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War said of a visit to the Judean-Samarian mountain range, “I look out from those heights and look on to the West Bank” and to the Israeli heartland beyond, “and I say to myself, ‘If I’m the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, I cannot defend this land without that terrain.'"

Ultimately, it’s not about Jews living in Hebron or Ma’aleh Adumim (in the Judean desert east of Jerusalem), but Jews living anywhere in the Middle East, for without those settlements and the presence of the IDF on the West Bank, Israel is poultry ready to be plucked.

Like all political questions, the debate over the settlements is ultimately about justice. Who has a right to the land – both the land on which Jewish communities are situated and the rest of Judea and Samaria?

It’s said the Palestinians have a fundamental human right to self-rule. Over the past two years, we’ve seen what they have done with the semi-autonomy generously but foolishly granted to them by Israel. They’ve slaughtered grandmothers and toddlers, pregnant women and elderly rabbis. They’ve set off their nail-studded, rat poison-laced bombs in shopping malls and university cafeterias. They’ve turned buses into blazing infernos, invaded homes and shot mothers and children in their beds. They’ve dragged 13-year-old boys to caves and stoned them to death.

Those who don’t actually pull the triggers, detonate the bombs or do the stoning, celebrate the atrocities in the streets of Ramallah and Jenin, as they danced in those same streets when other Arabs crashed two planes into the World Trade Center. Just imagine what they could do with an independent state and Jewish communities (an early warning system for the rest of the nation) gone from the land?

Let the Palestinians seek self-rule in their homeland, Jordan – 60% of whose inhabitants are Palestinians, all of whom speak their language, share their customs and follow their religion. Or they can go to one of 21 other Arab nations in the region, occupying an area twice the size of the continental United States, whose people are as similar to them as Rhode Islanders are to residents of Massachusetts.

All the Jews have is tiny Israel -- including Judea and Samaria, an area of roughly 10,000 sq. miles – 1/10th the size of Ecuador. Jews have an historical right to the land. It’s also their’s by right of conquest in wars forced on them by other Palestinians and their allies. But there’s a still superior claim.

The Holy book of Jews and Christians says nothing about God granting California and the Southwest to the United States. But it does repeatedly state that all of the land West of the Jordan was given to Abraham and his descendants forever.

The West Bank is occupied – owner-occupied. If another all-out Middle East war is to be averted, Jews must remain in their ancient homeland.

©2002 - - Arutz Sheva

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