[Freemanlist2] Paul Eidelberg-Facing the Truth+Critique of Netanyahu’s Remembrance Day Speech
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Facing the Truth
Even if were true—which emphatically is not the case—that “the Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people”—as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others have said—this would not entitle the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. The Canaanites could make an equivalent claim.
With all due respect to attorney Howard Grief, who should have received the Israel Prize even before he published his monumental work The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law, positive law is politically irrelevant where it is not backed by the power to enforce it. As Alexander Hamilton points out in Federalist 15—and I am referring to one of America’s greatest statesman:
It is essential to the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there be no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation. This penalty, whatever it may be, can only be inflicted in two ways, by the agency of courts and ministers of justice, or by military force, by the coercion of the magistracy, or by the coercion of arms.
A legal realist might say “There is no law where it is not enforced.”
In the case of Israel’s title to the Holy Land, one should bear in mind that Israel is at war with an implacable foe, and wars are not won by appeals to law. Hence, concerning conflicting legal claims to the Land of Israel, it would be wiser for Israel’s government—if it only had the courage—to state the Jewish claim to the Promised Land on the basis of Rashi’s commentary to Genesis 1, where he says in part:
If the nations of the world should say to Israel: “You are robbers, because you have seized by force the lands of the seven nations” [of Canaan], they [Israel] could say to them, “The entire world belongs to the Holy One, Blessed Be He. He created it and gave it to whomever it was right in his eyes. Of His own will He gave it to them and of His own will He took it from them and gave it to us.”
Against this Torah position, all arguments against the Jewish people’s title to Land of Israel on the basis of international law collapse like a deck of cards.
Not that learned inquiry concerning international law on this issue is not interesting or enlightening. But the metapolitical conflict over the Land of Israel would remain unresolved. The issue can only be resolved by war or, given the nature of Islam, by Israel’s unilateral disengagement or surrender. Thus far, Israeli governments have chosen the path to oblivion. I dare say, however, they will not succeed.
A Critique of Netanyahu’s Remembrance Day Speech
Prof. Paul Eidelberg*
In his speech at the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared:
Tonight at Mount Herzl, I say those words again: “Am Israel Chai.” And the people of Israel will continue to live. It re-established its country, gathered its exiles, built its army, settled its homeland and reunited its capital, Jerusalem. “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people.” That is how David Ben-Gurion opened the Declaration of Independence.
This statement about the “birthplace” of the Jewish people, and therefore the first sentence of Israel’s Declaration of Independence,” is false. Mr. Netanyahu made the same statement on June 14, 2009 at Bar-Ilan University where, without authority, he endorsed a Palestinian or an Arab-Islamic state in Judea and Samaria. Many other Israelis have uttered this falsehood, and therein is the basic reason why Israel is losing its heartland via the mendacious and cowardly policy of “land for peace.”
It was not in the Land of Israel but at the Law-Giving at Mount Sinai where the Jews became a people. It says in Exodus:
Moses came and summoned the elders of the people, and put before them all these words that Hashem had commanded him. And the entire people responded together and said, “Everything that Hashem has spoken we shall do!’’ (19:7-8).
It was this vow at Sinai that made the Jews a people. And it is precisely the tacit denial of the Sinai Revelation at the opening of Israel’s Declaration of Independence that has led, step-by-step, to Netanyahu’s renunciation of Jewish possession of Judea and Samaria.
Let us not engage in sophistry about the statement “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people.” Let us face the awesome metaphysical and political significance of this tacit denial of the Sinai Revelation. In Israel’s Declaration of Independence we behold a plain fact: that denies the only logical, the only serious, and the only solid foundation of the State of Israel. This is the underlying reason why the nations are seeking to delegitimize this so-called Jewish state.
What alone can make the Jews a people is the Torah. This, and not the San Remo Convention of 1920, endows the Jews with exclusive title over the Land of Israel. Let us be clear about Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
Officially known as the Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of Israel, its opening statement that “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people” suggests that the Jews did not become a “people” until the conquest of the land of Canaan by Joshua, hence only after the Law-Giving at Mount Sinai. Yet the Children of Israel are repeatedly referred to as a people even before their exodus from Egypt and during their wanderings in the Wilderness. Indeed, they are also called a “nation”—“What great nation has laws and social rules as righteous as this Torah?” (Deut. 4:8, and see Exod. 1:9; Num. 23:9).
The denial of the Sinai origin of the Jewish people is evident in other parts of the Declaration. After saying that the Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people, the document continues: “Here their spiritual, religious, and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.”
To avow that the Jews “created” cultural values of national and universal significance is to deny that the Torah is God-given (and to genuflect to German “biblical criticism”). If it be said, for example, that the Jews created the Sabbath, then it may also be said they created monotheism, as David Ben-Gurion had the audacity to say in his Memoirs. Monotheism, however, is the basis of Jewish identity, of Jewish morality, of Jewish history, hence, of the Jewish heritage.
To say that the Jews “created” cultural values is to suggest that morality is nothing but a human product. If so, it follows that what men can make at one time and place, others can alter or unmake at another time and place—a teaching that conforms to the historical and moral relativism prevalent in contemporary democracy. Hence, it is an oxymoron for the Declaration to refer to the Book of Books as “eternal,” for nothing created by man is eternal. Indeed, the Book of Books has been superseded by the Declaration of Independence among Israel’s ruling elites.
Thus, in 1962, Israel’s Supreme Court held that the Declaration of Independence “laid down the way of life of the citizens of the State, and its principles must guide every public authority of the State.” The Declaration is studied in the public schools and is exalted by politicians and jurists on Independence Day.
In a meeting of the education committee of the Sixteenth Knesset in 2003, when the subject of the swearing-in ceremony for new recruits of the Israel Defense Forces came on the agenda, Knesset member Yuli Tamir proposed that the Bible be replaced in the swearing in ceremony by Israel’s Declaration of Independence. A majority of the members of the committee then present agreed (but failed to make a binding decision).
But let us continue our critique of Netanyahu’s Remembrance Day speech. He asks: “[H]ave the lessons of the Holocaust been learned?” He answers: “I believe that there are three lessons: fortify your strength, teach good deeds and fight evil.”
To this I say that a serious fight against evil requires Israel to know its enemy and the enemy’s ultimate objective, which is nothing less than to destroy the one thing that makes the Jewish people a nation: the Torah. This has always been the objective of Israel’s enemies: Persians, Greeks, Romans, Germans—and yes, not a few Zionists!
Netanyahu continued: “The first lesson—fortify your strength—relates first and foremost to us, the people of Israel who were abandoned and defenseless when faced with waves of murderous hatred that rose against us time after time.” To this I say, only the Torah—which preserved our people for 2,000 stateless years—can fortify Israel in a protracted war against Islam. Look how Christianity has failed to fortify Britain and Europe against Islam. Look how Christianity has failed to prevent the American people from electing a Muslim as their president. And ponder the absurd result of contemporary democracy in that election.
Netanyahu went on to say that Israel’s strength requires “expanding the circle of peace with those neighbors who accept our existence.” This “politically correct” statement is intended for the naive. Genuine peace between Israel and her neighbors is impossible as long as Muslims worship the Quran, which Churchill called the “Mein Kampf of war.”
Netanyahu continues: “The second lesson—teach good deeds—means accepting or rather teaching to accept the other and differing opinions. This is the recognition that every man is created in G-d’s image and that every person has full rights to freedom, to life and to choosing their own path.” To this I say: Suppose the “other”—Islam—is the epitome of intolerance and demonically committed to Israel’s destruction. This being so, what is Netanyahu’s policy of “reciprocity” but more intellectual dishonesty?
Besides: What can the Arabs possibly give Israel that is equivalent to Jewish land? We see here a mockery of two thousand years of Jewish history including the Shoah—and all this is a speech on Remembrance Day. For shame!
And he dares go on to complain about the silence of the nations regarding the current explosion of anti-Semitism! What does he expect from the nations when Israel’s own government, despite the power of the IDF, refrains from destroying Hamas and Hezbollah next door?
Netanyahu baldly states: “… if we have learned anything from the lessons of the Holocaust, it is that we must not remain silent and be deterred in the face of evil.” But that is precisely what one Israeli government after another has been guilty of regarding the PLO-Palestinian Authority—a kleptocracy of terrorists dedicated to Israel’s annihilation. Yet Netanyahu is anxious to negotiate with that hotbed of evil.
Near the conclusion of his speech, Netanyahu asks: “… where does our strength come from?” and answers “From our unity, from our heritage …” What mindless audacity, to speak glowingly of our “heritage” after having betrayed this heritage by endorsing the creation of an Arab-Islamic state in the heartland of the Jewish people!
*Author of Toward a Renaissance of Israel and America (Lightcatcher Books, 2009).
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