A “good friend” of Israel is doing us a favor. He’s leaving the country. Thank God. Andrew Standley has been the European Union’s ambassador to Israel. In the past he was quoted as having stated that Judea and Samaria are ‘occupied territory’ and that Israel is the ‘occupier.’
Today, as he prepares to conclude his term in our holy country, he again spoke of Israel’s presence in our homeland, this time pointing his poison arrows at Hebron:
“You must choose between Haifa and Hebron. I am not a Jew or an Israeli, and I don’t have any historical or political connection , but it should be remembered that the state of Israel agreed to the 1947 partition plan, and thereby agreed to a partition the significance of is Haifa yes and Hebron no. Can you imagine that your heart which wants Hebron will give up your mind which wants peace?”
Is this really the question, that of heart vs. mind? Our emotions tug at Hebron, while our intellect demands peace? Are these really two opposites? Hebron or Haifa – Hebron or peace?
A few days ago, I accompanied a group of Americans and Canadians on a visit to Sheich Farid Jabari, at a tent where he hosts guests in the southern Hebron Hills. Jabari is the leader of Hebron’s largest clan, and has spoken at meetings of the EU in Brussels. I have met with him numerous times.
Jabari minces no words. He told the group: “You hold up the Bible and say that God gave you this land. I hold up the Koran and say that Allah gave us this land.”
For this reason Jabari, as opposed to other Arabs, publicly rejects a “Palestinian state.” He states unequivocally, “If this land was God-given to me, I cannot give any of it to you.” Acknowledgement of a “Palestinian state” is also direct acceptance of the State of Israel, and Jewish sovereignty over what he refers to as, and believes is his land. That being Eretz Yisrael. All of it. He personally would prefer to live in the State of Israel, as an Israeli citizen, rather than agree to “partition” the land and Arab-Muslim recognition of Israel’s right to any of Israel.
For quite some time, speaking with various groups, I’ve expressed my opinion that one of the necessary prerequisites to any “solution” to the Middle East conflict is Jewish acceptance of our legitimate right to live in our land. This is first and foremost. The roots of this legitimacy was expressed by David Ben Gurion: “Testifying before the Peel Commission, the British royal commission sent to Palestine in 1936 in the wake of Arab violence, David Ben-Gurion, head of the de facto Zionist government in Palestine, was asked to identify the basis of the Jewish claim. He replied: ”The Bible is our mandate.’” Ben Gurion and Jabari would have gotten along well together, as they share an identical premise.
By the same token, any nation willing to abnegate parts of land which are rightfully theirs, actually renounces its claim on the entire area. Because, as Shech Jabari defined it, how can anyone forsake any part and parcel of a Divine gift? This past Shabbat we read, in the weekly Torah portion, how Kalev ben Yefuneh came to pray at the tomb of the Patriarchs, beseeching God that he should remain strong, and not fall into the trapping of the 10 spies, who slandered Eretz Yisrael. According to the holy Zohar, one of the main reasons for their willingness and desire to relinquish the holy land, preferring to remain in the desert, was because they knew that upon entering the land, their roles as leaders would come to an end, that they would be replaced by a new generation of princes.
Kalev, understanding the significance of Hebron, the first Jewish city in Israel, the roots of humanity, site of the tomb of the Forefathers, chose this place to worship, to request Divine assistance in escaping the emotions of ten of his compatriots.
And his prayer was answered. Only he, together with Joshua, rejected the spies’ denunciation of Eretz Yisrael. Joshua later inherited Moses, while Kalev was granted Hebron. Love of Hebron has nothing to do with our heart. Our devotion to Hebron stems from our minds, allowing us the intellect to comprehend that the denial of Hebron as an essential element in the State of Israel is a refutation of our legitimacy to any and all of Israel. This has nothing to do with emotion. It is cold, simple brain intelligence.