Jewish World Review May 15, 2002/ 4 Sivan, 5762
state of chaos
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | KFAR ETZION, Judea -- Standing on the disputed land called the West Bank, the logic of the Likud Party's decision to bar the creation of a Palestinian state of chaos is indisputable.
On Sunday, the central committee of Israel's ruling party voted overwhelmingly against the establishment of Palestine -- at any point in time.
It was a victory for former Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and a stunning defeat for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who's indicated a willingness to negotiate such an entity. "The creation of a Palestinian state will endanger the Jewish state of Israel," Netanyahu warned.
It would also constitute a gross injustice.
Palestinian statehood would mean expelling 230,000 Jews, bulldozing homes, businesses, schools and synagogues, and handing over the land where the patriarchs walked and prophets preached to the suicide bombers' cheering section.
"I don't live in the territories," says Sondra Baras, an American-born resident. "I live in Israel, in a particular neighborhood called Samaria."
Says Shaul Goldstein, mayor of a number of communities in the Etzion region, "What you call a settlement, we call a neighborhood."
The expression "Jewish settlements" conjures up images of Rambo Zionists grabbing land taken in the Six Day War, shoving aside Arab inhabitants to build their fortified outposts. The picture is false in every detail.
Except for brief periods of exile, Jews have lived in Judea and Samaria (the "occupied territories" to The New York Times, the "West Bank" for CNN) for 4,000 years.
The history of ancient Israel wasn't played out within the pre-'67 borders of the modern state. Abraham lived in Hebron, not Herzliyya. The Ark of the Covenant came to rest in Shiloh, not Tel Aviv. Bethlehem, not Be'er-Sheva, is the city of David.
The land was taken by Jordan during the 1947-48 war. Ancient communities were destroyed, Jews expelled and evidence that they had once lived there effaced. After 1967, the dispossessed returned.
Throughout history, there has never been an independent Arab state on this land. (Try naming the last Palestinian king of Judea.) The designation "West Bank" is an invention of Arab propagandists.
The land has been paid for in full by its rightful owners.
Kfar Etzion lies in the hills of Judea just 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Originally settled by Zionists early in the 20th century, successive settlements were destroyed by Arab riots in the '20s and '30s.
During Israel's War of Independence, it 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, a group of soldiers who surrendered were massacred by the Arab Legion.
The present town was established after the Six Day War by the sons and daughters of those who died defending it in the '40s. Should this precious piece of real estate (with its thriving orchards, light manufacturing, pleasant homes and schools) now be turned over to the descendants of the murderers?
Without Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem would be surrounded on three sides by hostile territory. The mountains of Samaria guard the coastal plane with 70 percent of Israel's population.
In Israeli hands, invading armies from Jordan and points east could be stopped by artillery on the heights. In Palestinian hands, rockets and mortars could hit planes on the ground at Ben Gurion airport. Tel Aviv would be target practice.
Gen. Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, said of a visit to the Judea-Samaria mountain range, "I look out from those heights and look on to the West Bank, and say to myself, 'If I'm the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, I cannot defend this land without that terrain."'
The prophet Ezekiel proclaimed, "But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel ... and I will multiply men upon you ... and they shall, increase and bring fruit."
Communities like Kfar Etzion are yielding their fruit. Men and women have been multiplied upon these mountains. Their presence is vital to the nation's survival. The "territories" are owner-occupied, and so they shall remain.
JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.