We Must Always Remember the Extraordinary Gift of Israel
JNS.org – Something disturbing happened in Jerusalem earlier this week, and the story is not yet over.
Temple Mount activists Yehuda Glick, a former MK and president of the Shalom Jerusalem Foundation; Tom Nisani, executive director of Beyadenu; and Emanuel Brosh, a board member of Beyadenu, went outside the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, September 19, to pray and blow the shofar in observance of the month of Elul. The Eastern Wall, near the Golden Gate, is on the eastern side of the Temple Mount.
Two Arabs approached them with violent intentions. Members of the Border Guard who arrived at the scene prevented the attack, but then detained the Jews until late evening. They did not detain the Arabs, in spite of requests by the activists to do so. Accusing the activists of engaging in a “provocation,” the police brought them to court seeking an injunction that would prevent them from being in the vicinity of the Old City until Oct. 19, after the holidays are over.
The court denied this request, saying the three had to stay away only until after 6 am the next day.
After the time designated by the court, the three went to the area outside the Eastern Wall to blow the shofar. The police were apparently going to appeal the court ruling, but in the end, dropped it. And yet, a second time, in spite of the court ruling, the police made the three men leave.
Nisani has told me that they intend to petition the court to prevent the police from harassing them, and they will go again to blow the shofar outside the Eastern Wall.
This story is hardly unique. Israeli police have opted to restrict Jewish religious rights on the Temple Mount many times in order to avoid friction with Arabs threatening to riot. The Arabs are very good at using the threat of violence to get their way. It works because we allow it to work.
We see a similar attitude in other respects as well. For example, Palestinian Arabs supported by the E.U. are stealing our land in Area C and, to an alarming degree, certain Israeli officials are letting it happen.
What all of this speaks to is an unsettling indifference on the part of some Israeli Jews to Jewish rights to the Land, which is itself a failure to understand the immeasurable value of our inheritance.
As we begin the High Holidays—the Days of Awe—this seems a particularly opportune moment to raise this issue. We are entering a period of personal introspection. But it should also be a period of serious national soul searching in regard to this situation.
Take the time to consider Israel’s founding and all of the years since, which have brought us to where we are. Do this with eyes open and it is difficult not to see the measure of the gift we have received, which is nothing short of miraculous. We have come so far so quickly.
But do we open our hearts to the full realization that this gift is truly ours? Sadly, there are Jews who do not, and the implications are enormous.
The Palestinian Arabs like to say that the land is theirs “from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea.” But it most decidedly does not belong to them. What is so amazing is that we have multiple proofs on all levels that the Land belongs to the Jews. In philosophical terms, this would be referred to as overdetermination: One proof would be sufficient, but there are many.
There is our heritage in this land, going back millennia. The beginning was the Almighty’s promise to Abraham, made five times, such as in Genesis 17:1-2, “The whole land of Canaan… I will give you as an everlasting possession to you and to your descendants.” And then there is our ancient history here, documented in a wealth of archeological discoveries, not the least of them on the Temple Mount. That history unfolded in Judea and Samaria, in places like Hebron and Shilo.
And there is the legal aspect, with the Mandate for Palestine passed unanimously by the League of Nations, which stands as an article of international law.
And lastly, the fact that we acquired possession of the land in defensive wars.
Why has this not been internalized by all the nation? Why are there doubts that linger for some, a reluctance to treasure and guard what is ours, a willingness to surrender part of it without a backward glance? It is important to discuss this very difficult and complex problem in the days ahead.
We can be grateful, however, that there are many who do treasure the gift that is Israel. In mere weeks, at the beginning of November, we will have elections. Their outcome will be critical. It is imperative for everyone who loves the land to come out to vote.
Arlene Kushner is a freelance writer, investigative journalist and author. She has written books on the PLO and Ethiopian Jews, and major reports on UNRWA. She is a co-founder of the Legal Grounds Campaign, which provides courses to law students regarding Israel’s legal rights in the Land of Israel. Her blog, focusing on political and security concerns in Israel, can be found at www.arlenefromisrael.info.