Colonists or Sons of the Land?
Universities and the “Twitterverse” are flooded with anti-Israel propaganda accusing Israel of being an apartheid state that discriminates against Arabs on a racial basis. These propagandists’ other mantra is that Jewish settlers are colonists settling land that rightfully belongs to others. The two main strategies of Israel’s enemies are: 1) keep the international community ignorant of the region’s true history (with a sprinkling of anti-Semitic conditioning), and 2) simply repeat the same lies again and again until they are unquestioningly accepted as truth.
The topic of Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria (aka “the West Bank”) is the number one issue used to hound Israel in international debate and in planned efforts for de-legitimization of the Jewish State. The boldness of this approach has caused otherwise strong Israel advocates discomfort with taking a stand on this core issue, resulting in continued efforts to redirect the discourse to other topics that are “easier” to present and win. But, in truth, there is no reason to put aside this issue, because Israel cannot allow itself to be defeated here.
Judea and Samaria are not just “some areas in Israel.” This region -which is in fact Israel’s higher ground – towers eight to nine hundred meters above sea level, and is just a stone’s throw from Israel’s main population center on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Considering that the main result of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 has been the takeover of Hamas and Islamic Jihad factions who now endlessly shoot rockets into our southern cities (and this – without having any topographic advantage – has cost the lives and livelihoods of many Israelis), how wise would it be for Israel to give up this strategic territory? If the terrorists were to be given the advantage of the high ground of the “West Bank” along with the freedom they enjoy in Gaza, all of Israel’s center could be shut down. The Ben Gurion International Airport itself would be in the cross-hairs of RPG rockets that could be carried on the shoulders of teenagers. Talk about the threat of Israel being isolated, I wonder how many brave pilots would agree to land in an airport under such a threat emanating from the mountains towering above it? Just consider the vulnerability of a 747 landing in the Sderot Airport.
But the “defensible borders” chip is only part of the argument, and not particularly the most important part. Judea and Samaria are Israel’s heartland. They are at the core of our national call – the call that birthed the modern Jewish movement of return to our homeland. We are a people who have never forgotten the covenant made between the Creator and our forefathers. The Bible records that here in Elon Moreh, Shechem (Nablus), and Hebron, God spoke with our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and promised the land to their descendants. The prophets of the Bible foresaw that the children of Israel would return to this same land after a long exile. Whether one believes in the divine origins of the Bible or not, all must agree that the reports written there are a powerful motivation for the “people of the Book,” who have preserved our traditions and culture throughout history, while other once-powerful nations have fallen into oblivion.
The Jewish people have returned to settle the land of their fathers, not as foreigners, but as sons of the land. We are settling the hilltops of Judea and Samaria that have lain barren for thousands of years; we are investing all our physical and financial resources to bring roads and water to the tops of those hills that have been unused since biblical times; we take great joy in hiking the landscape and discovering the ancient winepresses carved in the stone (witnesses of the ancient wine industry that existed here, cultivated by the tribes of Israel). I am not aware of another people in the entire world who celebrate the pouring of cement and building of new homes as do the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, who can sense that every building block is connecting them to their history and their destiny.
The Jews in Judea and Samaria are not colonists. A colonist is not one who settles in his own land and invests in it’s building and development; a colonist loots a foreign land to take its gains back to his motherland. Judea and Samaria are the heart of the nation of Israel. The Jewish people will forever respect, cherish, protect and rebuild this holy land.
David Ha’ivri is the Executive Director of the Shomron Liaison Office, he lives in Kfar Tapuach, Shomron with his wife Mollie and their eight children.