Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

Everybody knows that arguments within families are the hardest ones to resolve. More often than not, disputes regarding inheritance cause irreparable damage. How sad that brothers stop talking, cousins never get to know each other, and families are literally broken apart.

From time immemorial, people have said that this is what lies at the root of the Jew vs Arab debate… we are cousins fighting over the inheritance of our grandfather Avraham. HaShem promised the following to Avraham; “For all the land that you see, I will give to you and to your offspring forever.” (Bereishit 13:15) The logical argument states that since both Jews (via Yitzchak) and Arabs (via Yishmael) are offspring of Avraham, we are both entitled to share in the land. Therefore, we need to work out this “family squabble” and come to a happy compromise where every descendant gets his ancestral portion.


Sounds familiar?

I’m sure you have heard this argument – or some form of it – a thousand times. “They are your cousins… why can’t you work things out?” I guess we just need to hire attorneys and go to family court and forget about the suicide bombings, massacres, rocket attacks and rivers of Jewish blood shed by our “cousins”…

There is however, one slight problem with this argument: The Arabs are not our cousins!

Really? What about the line that “we both come from Avraham”?? Wouldn’t that make us one big happy (or miserable) family?? Not really… Allow to me show you something that, unfortunately, is one of the best kept secrets in the Talmud Bavli.

Masechet Nedarim – Chapter 3 – Mishna 11 – (commentary and translation from ArtScroll): “If someone swears that he will not benefit from the offspring of Avraham – he is forbidden from Jews but he is permitted to benefit from all the other nations of the world” – Note 5 in this ArtScroll Mishna quotes the famous Mishnaic commentator, the Bartenura, who states: “He may even benefit from the descendants of Yishmael and Esav, because it is derived from the Torah that Avraham’s line runs only through his son, Yitzchak, and Yitzchak’s son Yaakov, and not through Yishmael or Esav!”

Let’s think about this for a minute. Both Yishmael and Yitzchak were – undisputedly – the sons of Avraham. Nobody argues with that. Yet, as the Mishna clearly rules – and yes, this is the Halacha! – the descendants of Yishmael are not considered the offspring of Avraham.

The Mishna bases its ruling on the passuk in Bereishit (21:12) which says; “Through Yitzchak will offspring be considered yours”.

This changes everything because it proves that it’s not a battle of inheritors, with both sides having a legitimate claim… its simply good vs evil. This is how our Jewish leaders need to talk. The land – every grain of sand – belongs to the Jewish nation and only the Jewish nation. It was given to Avraham by the King of the world and passed down, from generation-to-generation, through Yitzchak – to Yaakov – to the 12 Tribes – and to you and me and every Jew today.

Let’s get our facts straight and stop parroting lines we hear from those who live with distortion and fraud. Eretz Yisrael was ours, is ours, and will forever remain an inseparable part of Am Yisrael, whether our fake cousins like it or not.

Am Yisrael Chai!

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Shmuel Sackett is the founder and director of the Am Yisrael Chai Foundation.