Playbook of the Haters of Israel, Then and Now
In his great wisdom, King Solomon stated in the beginning of Ecclesiastes “There is nothing new beneath the sun.” Since human nature does not change over time, the way modern man deals with current events is no different from how past generations handled the events of their time. I have in mind specifically the current and ongoing conflict between Israel its Arab neighbors and their supporters. But first, let me take you back to an event long ago.
Our Torah records the conquest by Moshe over Sichon, king of the Amorites. The territory conquered by the Israelite nation took place only after Sichon refused to allow their passage through its land on their way to Canaan. Not only did Sichon reject Moshe’s request but he assembled his entire nation to fight and destroy Israel. The tract of land won by the Jewish nation in a defensive war was the land on the east side of the Jordan River, now currently the country of Jordan. As mentioned in this week’s Torah portion, Matot, this land was given to the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menasha. It became part of the biblically recognized land of Israel.
Fast forward to the story recorded in the Book of Judges, chapter 13. The King of Ammon accuses the nation of Israel of taking its land when they came out of Egypt. The king demands that it be returned. The leader of the Jewish nation at that time was, Yiftach. In trying to make peace with the King of Ammon, Yiftach reminds him of the inconvenient truth how the nation of Ammon originally lost the land they now want from Israel. In fact, this parcel of land had been lost by the first King of Ammon, over 300 years earlier, in a war with Sichon. As recorded in the Torah, it was from Sichon that Moshe and Israel conquered the land. To paraphrase Yiftach’s message to the current King of Ammon, “Therefore you have no legitimate cause to come at us. All those years before Israel came into possession of this parcel, the nation of Ammon made no attempt to regain its lost territory. Now you want to take it from us!” The result of this episode was Yiftach’s successful defense of the land of Israel with God’s divine assistance.
Today, the situation in the Middle East is no different. Every attempt is made by the current enemies of Israel to rewrite the truth of modern history. In complete disregard of the facts from the recent historical record (dating from the late 1800’s to the present), Israelis are currently accused of two things: 1. stealing the land they live on; and 2. the illegal occupation and brutalization of the people living in territory Israel conquered in the 6 Day War of June 1967.
Modern Israel was carved out of the same swath of land, the former Ottoman Empire, and by the same international bodies, the League of Nations and later the United Nations, as were the other modern countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Israel’s right to exist in that area of the world is at least as strong as theirs. It is stronger than most of the others since, for example, there never existed a nation of Saudi Arabia or Iraq before the division of the Ottoman Empire. Kuwait and Yemen first came into existence in the 1960’s. Bahrain, Qatar, and U.A.E. didn’t exist until 1971.
The existence of modern Israel, however, demonstrates nothing less than an expression of God’s divine providence. This idea is disturbing to a large segment of the world. But consider the circumstances of modern Israel’s continued existence. Since 1948, all of Israel’s military campaigns have been undertaken only out of self-defense. Even after returning the Gaza Strip, land taken by Israel in a defensive war with Egypt in June 1967, to complete Palestinian control and governance in September 2005, citizens of southern Israel have endured 14 years of rocket attacks and brutal terrorist raids.
Furthermore, all the years the Jordanians held the territory of Judea and Samaria (incorrectly known as the West Bank), were any claims put forth by “Palestinians,” that Jordan should restore their rightful land to them? Of course not. No such people ever existed, so no legitimate claim could be made. In fact, the terms “Palestine” and “Palestinian” were invented to reference the land of Israel and the exiled Jews by the Roman Empire after their conquest in 70 CE. We mark that tragic event every year with mourning and a full 24 hour fast known as Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. Do any other people commemorate that they lost their homeland on this date?
The current BDS movement Boycott, Divestment and Sanction, championed by some of our own representatives to Congress, is the form taken by the latest attempt to harm Israelis and bring the country of Israel to its knees. It obfuscates the truth. Israel is not a colonialist country wishing to subjugate its Arab neighbors. That is really the agenda of Israel’s Muslim neighbors. The only reason why Israel now has Judea and Samaria under its jurisdiction is because it captured this territory from Jordan in a decisive and defensive war for its survival. The Arab nations had the opportunity to regain this territory but squandered it with their infamous Khartoum Resolution, September 1967, aka The Three No’s, no peace, recognition or negotiations with Israel.
Denial of the facts is nothing new for the enemies of Israel. It is part and parcel of their playbook of disinformation and lies. It creates doubt and confusion in the minds of those people who don’t take the time or make the effort to learn the truth. It is a tactic used to garner support and justify their hostility toward the nation of Israel. Unfortunately, many of our most prestigious colleges and universities have fallen prey, as well, to the rewriting of the historical record.
As we enter this Shabbat, we pray that Hashem continues His protecting care over Israel and enlightens people the world over to the truth of its eternal existence.
Rabbi Robert Kaplan