Driven in part by Russian and French anti-Semitism and in part by an age-old dream that would never die, modern Zionism began to stir at the end of the nineteenth century. Jews, primarily from Russia, began to return to the ancient homeland. They found it barren and sparse but they also found that all the creeks, hills, valleys and towns mentioned in the Bible were in fact where they were supposed to be. Jerusalem with its Temple Mount was still there along with the descendents of those Jews who were never driven away.
From the beginning life among the Arabs of the Levant was difficult. There were anti-Jewish riots in the 1920s and 1930s resulting in the closure of the Mandate area to Jews, in complete indifference to the Holocaust that would take place in Europe. In 1948 when the land west of the Jordan River was partitioned and the State of Israel was declared, five Arab armies attacked with the intention of taking the Jewish half as well as the land allocated to the Arabs. In 1967 and again in 1973 wars of annihilation were fought to destroy the Jews.
From the Jewish perspective there is no doubt that the provinces ofJudea and Samaria, (once known as the West Bank), the ancient hill country which the Jews had ruled for 1500 years prior to the destruction by the Romans, belong to the Jewish people as their ancient patrimony. This land has been in Jewish hands since 1967. The Israelis have always understood that this land was theirs by historical right, but they also understood that other people had claims to this land. In the interest of peace and coexistence, Israel in 1967 and in 1993 and in 2000 and in 2006, offered to divide the land with those who had a heartfelt claim. It must be stressed that the Jewish claim to the land is as strong as any other, but the Israelis were willing to divide their patrimony in order to have peace.
The Arab response has been the same since 1967, when in Khartoum the Arab League said, “No recognition, no negotiation, and no peace!” Their actions in 1987 when the stone throwing began or in 2000 when the bombings and murders began, leaving over 1000 Israeli civilians dead, have always been consistent. For ethnic or religious reasons the Arabs will not agree to divide the land. They will use whatever methods are available, whether that means targeted murder of civilians, use of an Iranian nuclear bomb, coupled to a very effective world-wide propaganda campaign to demonize the Jewish people, or whatever else it may take.
The Arabs have made it plain in their covenants and documents they will not rest until the Jews are gone.Therefore, it becomes necessary to accept reality. The idea of divided land for two people has failed. The Arabs will not divide the land to share it with Jews. Israel has no alternative but to assert its historic national claim to Judea and Samaria. Civil arrangements can be worked out with those Arabs who want to live among the Israelis and it’s no surprise that in poll after poll Arab residents of these lands have expressed their desire to continue to be part of an Israeli state. They have always functioned on the periphery of the Israeli society and are fully aware that Israelis of Arab origin enjoy a degree of personal freedom unparalleled anyplace else in the Middle East.
Specifically, this means that Israeli law will apply in these areas and that no army other than the IDF may function there; that Israelis are free to build homes and villages anywhere they please. No self declared terrorist organizations, of the kind that is Fatah, the PA or Hamas will be tolerated on this sovereign Israeli territory.
Prime Minister Netanyahu should choose a public occasion, maybe this trip to Washington, to announce that compromise being impossible, the State of Israel asserts its rightful claim to Judea and Samaria.
Frederic Leder is a retired oil company executive living in Westport and a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the Ledger.