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Antique Bible

You have to wonder how many people have actually read the bible. The Guinness Book of World Records believes it to be the best-selling book ever, with some 5 billion copies sold. But of course, that doesn’t mean 5 billion people have actually read the book. Some people probably bought those bibles to give them away as gifts to friends. Not to mention that a good many bibles were purchased (by Gideon) to sit unread in dresser drawers in hotel rooms, to serve as the traveler’s conscience.

Still, the bible is a classic. You don’t have to be religious to have read the bible, just as you don’t have to be British to read Shakespeare. Most of us can recite at least a few lines of Shakespeare by heart (“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”) So you’d think people would have some familiarity with the text of the bible, just as they do with Shakespeare.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that a person couldn’t really be considered educated without having read the bible as one of the classics. Certainly you’d be right in imagining that anyone reaching high office as a senator or president, for instance, would have a nodding acquaintance with the Old Testament.

But you’d be wrong.

You’d be wrong because surely, if highly educated people holding high office read the bible, you wouldn’t have so many of them speaking out so forcefully against Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The bible, you see, isn’t just a book for religious kooks—for the Jews who take Rashi’s first commentary on Genesis literally (or the Christians who respect them). It’s also a history book.

It’s a history book insofar as archeological findings support the narrative of the bible, which supports the idea that the Jews are the indigenous people of the West Bank, more properly known as Judea and Samaria.   The Jews lived in Nablus and Bethehem and Hebron and they lived there because God said so–He said, “Go from your land to a land that I will show you.  ”

And if you know all that, and you also know the subsequent modern history of the area, for instance, about the British Mandate for Palestine, the Balfour Declaration, Partition, and the Israeli War of Independence, you know that this territory, Judea and Samaria, was part of an illegal land grab by Jordan and that in 1967, when the Jews took it back in a defensive war, they were only restoring their rightful property.

And if you knew all that you’d have a firm mental grasp on the fact that Judea and Samaria belongs to the Jews according to international law. You’d never be tempted to call Israeli settlements “illegitimate” as Hillary Clinton did, as if the Jews were God’s bastard child left out of the will. You’d never suggest that the Jews are undermining trust, as Joe Biden did, in response to the idea that Jews would build homes in Ramat Shlomo, a Jerusalem neighborhood, because he (erroneously) thought the neighborhood a settlement in Judea and Samaria.

If you’d read the bible and you knew your history, you wouldn’t incessantly and shrilly insist that Israel give that territory away to others, no matter how much those others want or need a homeland. And you certainly would never say as Dianne Feinstein did, that you are “100 percent opposed to the settlements,” because you’d be afraid someone would call you out as an anti-Semite for suggesting that the indigenous people of the territory, the Jews, have no right whatsoever to build on their land.

And if President Obama had given the bible (or even Josephus!) a cursory glance, he’d have read about the connection between Jews and the territory some people call the West Bank. He’d know that the Jews are the indigenous people of Judea and Samaria and he wouldn’t be “questioning settlement policy.” Or at least, he’d know that questioning settlement policy definitely suggests he is both “anti-Israeli” and “anti-Jewish. ”

Let’s look at that for a moment:

The President ascribes the general sense that he is anti-Israel and anti-Jewish to his willingness “to get into public disagreements with the Israeli government. ” But that can’t be the reason; Jews like to disagree. They live for disagreement and healthy debate.

No. That’s not the problem. It’s not disagreement that tells Jews that people like President Obama and Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein don’t like them. It’s the notion they plug that claims to Jewish territory are absolutely spurious and without merit.

It’s the thumbing of their noses at Jews, as if they were inconsequential, undeserving of their property rights as set forth in the bible, as if Jewish rights, biblical rights that are either divine or historic or both, are not worth even a moment’s consideration. It’s the notion that this President, more than his predecessors, calls the bible (or its author) a liar. It’s the underlying motivation for the pointing finger that calls settlements “illegal” or “wrong” which is to suck away Jewish rights and bestow them instead on those who covet Jewish property and prosperity. As if any one man or even a whole bunch of men can do that–can come and tell anyone: You have to give your land to these people who want it. Or we will hurt you in the pocket and in the court of world opinion.

Certainly no one who had read the bible would say these things aloud or even think them. Unless of course, you didn’t realize that “West Bank” was just a propaganda term, a substitute term someone had fed you so you wouldn’t know the territory in question is really Judea and Samaria.

Nah. That can’t be it, now can it?

*Author’s note: Originally, this article was submitted to a leading center-right publication. The piece was rejected with the following note: “I was with you right up to the point you started discussing he Bible as [if] it’s a property tax document. I’m afraid that’s not the case, and anyway, the Islamists are simply not going to care. So we’re going to pass on this one.”

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Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar Gold medal charity. The author's political opinions are her own and not endorsed by her employer.