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REFUGEES? LET’S GET REAL

Since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, the Arab refugee claim has remained a core excuse for the Arab nations to postpone recognizing Israel and moving on to some type of normal existence in the region.

Until the 1967 Six Day War, Pan-Arabist dreamers, under the illusions of Gamal Abd el Nasser still believed that the Arabs would unite and be able to push the Jews into the sea. But since, they have realized their great disappointment (or “Naksa”), when they lost their hope of eliminating the uninvited non-Muslim state in their midst. Not only did the Jews succeed in surviving their enemies’ plans, but the Jewish army took control of the holy city of Jerusalem and the areas to its north and south, historically known as Judea and Samaria, now called “the West Bank” by some.

To recap the history of the  “refugee” situation, it first occurred as a result of Israel’s first war in 1948. Some 750,000 Arab residents fled areas in which the Jewish state had been formed. For the most part, the well-to-do leadership voluntarily left the area of conflict out of their own desire to take their wealth to safer pastures. The remaining bulk of those who moved did so mainly under the call of the Arab leadership, who advised them to stay clear of the war effort and promised them they could return after the Jews were defeated. Some also fled out of fear that they would be considered loyal to the enemy by the victorious Jewish army.

Blaming one side or the other for sixty five years has neither comforted those uprooted, nor brought about any type of permanent solution for them. It’s hard to argue against the fact that the policy of the neighboring Arab states has been to perpetuate the suffering of the refugees and all their offspring indefinitely as a means of blemishing Israel’s image. This conduct is should not be excused by the international community.

Since WWII, tens of millions of people, if not more, have lost their homes and been displaced as a result of wars and conflicts around the world. These people have been absorbed by and received citizenship in their countries of residence. There is no other situation in the world today in which refugee status is passed down to the second, third and fourth generations of those who were originally displaced. Again, this type of double standard is unacceptable.

Let us remember that it was not just the Arab residents of what is now Israel who were displaced in the founding years of the Jewish state, but some one million Jewish citizens of Arab countries were forcibly run out of Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, among others. These Jewish refugees left behind their properties and wealth. Most of them were taken in by Israel, where they rebuilt their lives. They have never been recognized as refugees by the international aid associations, and were never paid any damages by the countries who displaced them.

According to UNRWA, a total of 5 million qualify to be recognized as Palestinian “refugees” today. Talk of negotiations between Israel and the PLO and the issue of the refugees may give the impression that these negotiations are meant to find some way to resettle the descendants of those who fled at Israel’s founding.  But in fact, in 2011, it was revealed that even PLO chief Abu Mazen acknowledged that at the very most, Israel could be expected to admit no more than 100,000. Israeli negotiators are aiming for no more than 5000 over the course of five years.

Bringing five million people into the areas under PA control is highly unrealistic – not only due to limited physical accommodations as far as housing, water and electric infrastructure, but also realizing that the Palestinian Authority has not the means to provide work for its population today. As it is, residents of the PA areas are barely getting by on minimum wage, at $560 a month. How could anyone expect them to multiply their population by four?

In retrospect, 65 years in limbo was a means of advancing the goals, not of those people themselves, but of others. Behind the headlines and slogans, the best either side might accomplish for the five million UNRWA refugees is to help them financially resettle elsewhere, away from both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

If this is the case, what are they waiting for?

All individuals born in refugee camps in the countries surrounding Israel should be granted citizenship in the countries they were born in immediately. Accepting the reality, UNRWA and all of the donor states should put into motion a program to resettle all of the residents of the refugee camps in other locations around the world. There is no reason to wait for results of endless negotiations that are not really dealing with a solution for this problem anyway.

HE MEANS THE JEWS!

Relaunching talks between Israel and the PLO chief Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas)

Many questions arise as these negotiations begin. What is the real goal of the “Two State Solution”? What does Abbas mean when he repeatedly declares,

“no Israelis will live in the future Palestinian state”? Why is Israel releasing 104 terrorist prisoners convicted of murdering Israeli citizens? Why is the Obama administration pushing Israel to concede to the PLO, and how does that relate to its impotency in the face of the extreme suffering and human rights violations in other Middle East countries?

Obviously, Israel exists in a reality totally unique in the world, in regard to the continuing threats both outside and inside its borders. Within its tiny geographical domain, it is the world’s only Jewish state, founded after a two thousand year exile, during which the Jewish people wandered from one land of persecution to another. In short, the countries of the world collectively had a very bad record on showing kind hospitality to the countryless Jews.

Some one hundred and fifty years ago, modern Zionism brought Jews together to devise a practical plan to establish an independent Jewish country. Thoughts of planting the new state in lands other than the historical homeland were considered by some, but quickly recognized as unviable. The unprecedented gathering of an exiled and dispersed nation could only take place if they were allowed to gather in the ancient homeland to which they dreamed and prayed to return.

At the time, Egypt was the only country in the region independent of the Ottoman Empire. The remaining lands of what are now considered the Middle East and North Africa were all administered by the Turks and were not divided by the borders nor represented by the countries we know today.

The impression that Israel is occupying “Palestinian” lands is incorrect. A Palestinian country did not exist in these lands, prior to its coming under Israel’s control. As a result of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel did capture Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea – not from Palestine, but rather, from Jordan. It is true that the PLO was established in Jerusalem in 1964, some three years before Israel’s defensive acquisition of these lands in 1967. Obviously, the agenda of the PLO was not to free lands from Israel which it did not even possess. Its mission then, as now, is to replace Israel on all of its land from the river to the sea. This is not a deeply concealed secret. It is taught in PLO and UNRWA schools and is proudly presented on maps and official emblems of the PLO and its branches.

The mission of the PLO is and always has been denial of the right of the Jewish people to their own county in their historical homeland. PLO spokespeople and negotiators are always very clear not to utter the words “Israel” and “Jewish State” together as one identity because they refuse to accept that it has any valid claim whatsoever. If you pay attention to the PLO narrative, you will notice that the Two State concept includes a Palestinian state with no Jews, alongside a binational state for all of its residents, regardless of their nationality. The Jewish state does not exist in the PLO concept.

Readers should take note that a Two State Solution was already implemented by the British in 1946, when they divided the area of the mandate and allocated two thirds of it to establish the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as a gift to the son of their Bedouin friend from Mecca. A second Two State Solution was set into motion in 2005, when the Israeli government removed all Israeli communities and interests from the Gaza region. Unfortunately for the PLO functionaries, the people of Gaza elected the Islamic Hamas in their place as government, and the PLO was thrown out right after the Jews.

And now on the table again for the third time, we have the Two State Solution. As Abbas states very clearly, his vision is to have no Israelis in the future Palestinian state. He means Jews! As a precondition of taking part in any discussions, he demanded that over a hundred convicted terrorist murderers be freed from Israeli prisons. Is there a statement that could better express the cheapening of the blood of Jews than that of letting their murderers walk free?

Next, he says that no Israelis will be allowed to live in the country he wishes to establish. This doesn’t sound very peaceful. Today there are about 750,000 Israelis who live in the areas that Abbas would like to see as his future state. That is between 25 – 30% of the total population, depending on how you count. East of the 1967 Green Line, in the area that Abbas sees as a future binational state, 20% of the population are Arabs. Why should the envisioned “peace-loving Palestinian state” be closed to Jews? Why would the suggestion of expelling 750,000 people from their homes be considered a legitimate narrative in international discourse?

But the truth is that it is unfeasible. The number of Jewish residents in Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea has passed critical mass. The state of Israel was founded in 1948, with a total Jewish population of 600,000, and it survived the combined efforts of seven Arab armies to wipe it off the map. Today the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria (or “the West Bank,” if you like) is greater than the entire population of Israel on the day of its modern founding. The Jewish communities (or “settlements,” if you like) are permanent fixtures in the scenery here, with million dollar homes, shopping centers, schools, playgrounds and a full-fledged university. These are not things that can be packed away on moving trucks.

Abbas knows that he is stuck with us; the time has come for him to figure out how to live with us.

Are Christian Zionists a Threat to Israel?

Doesn’t it sound a little silly, not to mention paranoid, when we kvetch all day about the world being against us, and then when we discover people who actually like us, we work overtime to convince ourselves that they must really be out to get us and are covering it up with a smile?

I am very clear on my stand: I do not, have not and will not work with any group that has a missionary agenda targeting Jews. I will be happy to cooperate with friends of Israel, regardless of their theology, be they Muslim, Christian, Druze, Buddhist or whatever. The fact that there are some Christians who would like to convert Jews does not at all prove that all Christians embrace that agenda. There are about 5000 different schools of thought that all come under the “Christian” banner, and some of those totally appreciate the Jewish people’s unchanged “chosen” status and our Torah mission. There are probably others who believe that Jews must fulfill the rebuilding of the State and Temple to promote their own Messianic visions. That doesn’t worry or even interest me.

Some who claim the position of “anti-missionary activists” are not objective and manipulate information in an attempt to prove that any Christian who smiles at a Jew is doing so in order to convert them. I do not appreciate the harassment and bullying tactics they frequently resort to, but I am not afraid of them, either. I read and consider articles attacking Glenn Beck as a missionary. I’m sorry to say that they commonly show a very shallow understanding of the topic they are writing about. Beck, Waller, Gohmert and even Hagee are not missionaries. If they were, they would be really lousy ones, considering the fact that with all of the effort they have put into helping Israel, they have failed to make any Jewish converts at all.

If you believe sitting at home and reading Tehillim is all a Jew needs to do to deal with international pressures on Israel, then I wish you luck. But, if you think that we should actually try to build alliances with others outside the Jewish people, then I have news for you: people who are not Jewish have their own theological beliefs (that should be obvious – if they are not Jewish, then they are something else). If they appreciate the Jewish people and understand that helping Israel is beneficial to both sides, then there is nothing wrong with interacting with them. Of course, the Halacha and common sense guide us on ways to do so without compromising our Jewish identity and national respect.

With all of that said, and with no intention to insult our friends, we really should not have such an inferiority complex. If our own religion is the real thing, and so naturally superior to theirs, do you really think that some guy is going to say “the J word” and Jews are going to be so impressed by that as to question our own faith? Nu, b’emet. [Common, really.]

On one hand, if you come by a group that is offering a service – like a club with attractive facilities – but they are also offering classes in Christian faith for Jews, it is obviously a front, and they are probably taking advantage of you and trying to attract other Jews to their classes. But on the other hand, if a Christian offers you money to buy needed equipment and help produce books and discs, or for Jewish development of the land of Israel and asks for no involvement in your content whatsoever, only asking that you bless them by continuing your work, then they are helping you spread your message. In the second case, I would not even sweat worrying that they might come back some day and ask for something else – because even if they do, you can say “no” (and there is a good chance that they will not, because they are genuine lovers of Israel with no other agenda). Yes, we should always be careful with whom we do business, but I don’t have to tell you that there are other Jews who can lead you astray into dangerous avenues, as well.

No, not all gestures of friendship by Christians hide an intention to missionize us. I do not accept that as a given. I am not talking about a relationship in which one side is manipulating the other. Neither am I saying that I think I can trick them into helping us without allowing them the prize of converting us. I would not cooperate with Christians who wish to convert us any more than I would cooperate with Muslims who wish to slaughter us. I will gladly work with goyim who appreciate the Jewish people for who we are and wish only for us to become the best Jews we can be.

Believe it or not, there are goyim who believe in the words of the Bible – and they trust that G-d did choose the Jewish people for a special mission – to be a light unto the nations. They actually look to us for direction. But living in fear and exile for hundreds of years has corrupted us. Now that we have returned to our land and the nations are witnessing the fulfillment of prophecies and look to us as teachers, we go running for cover, fearing they mean us harm. We must seize our opportunities as they arise, stand proudly and teach the nations the truth of the Torah. We possess G-d-given greatness and blessing; we need not fear; G-d is on our side.

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