Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL


By Rabbi Rafi Rank

The Torah and the Jewish people are obsessed with justice. Spirituality may be important. Connecting with God, meditating, prayer, study-all these are good. But Jews who turn a blind eye to justice will get no high marks from the Almighty in spite of their kosher food purchases, regular prayer, or Shabbat observance. Tzedek tzedek tirdof-"Justice, justice shall you pursue," (Deuteronomy 16:20) the Torah records. So how does a tradition like this, in the same breath, direct the young nation as follows:

In the towns of the latter peoples, however, which the Lord your God is giving you as a heritage, you shall not let a soul remain alive. No, you must proscribe them-the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites-as the Lord your God has commanded you. (Deuteronomy 20:16-17)

How can the Torah justify such wholesale slaughter? The answer is that we do not know and we dare not engage in such actions today. And yet, implicit in the justification is the idea that there are those with whom no negotiation is possible, that there are societies themselves which must be destroyed in order for civilization to take place. With the bombing of Hebrew University's Frank Sinatra cafeteria still fresh in our minds, the question must be asked: How many more Jewish children are we willing to sacrifice in order to save Palestinian society? Is Palestinian society, in fact, worth saving? This past week, Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, put it this way, in his characteristically understated manner:

My feeling about the so-called occupied territories are that there was a war, Israel urged neighboring countries not to get involved in it once it started, they all jumped in, and they lost a lot of real estate to Israel because Israel prevailed in that conflict. In the intervening period, they've made some settlements in various parts of the so-called occupied area, which was the result of a war, which they won.

The Jewish people have not quite seen it that way. The Jewish people have craved peace, the Peace Process, justice, freedom, and especially the idea of giving up land for peace and justice. In fact, with the return of Sinai to Egypt, Israel gave up 91% of all land captured in the 1967 war. But the problem today revolves around a truth that the Torah points us to this week: There are people in this world with whom no negotiation is possible. It was bad enough that Israel had to fight a war in 1967 with an unreasonable and uncompromising Arab world. But since then, the Palestinians have continued to fight losing, debilitating, and demoralizing battles. As we say in Hebrew: Maspik- Enough is enough. There is no abandoning the Jewish homeland. That is unacceptable. There can also be no toleration of terrorism such that life in the Jewish homeland becomes impossible for Jews-that too is unacceptable. The only reasonable solution is becoming increasingly clear: The West Bank borders must be run by Israel, the forces of decency. All terrorists and their organizations must be targeted in a decisive military action. The West Bank should become once and for all Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel, and the world should see it for what it must become-the just and recognized borders of a just and civilized state. To bargain with one more of our children's lives for the sake of some illusory peace is not justice. It's madness.

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