By Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel
Only in Israel does a store vendor offer you a “Chabad discount” as a token of appreciation and then hand you not only your change but also an extra dollar for “Shlichut Mitzvah” to give to charity when you get home.
Only in Israel could the taxi driver taking you to the airport declare, “I was there when we liberated the Kotel in 1967. I was the first one to hear the words: Har Habait B’yadeinu – “the Temple Mount is in our hands.” Such were my experiences in Israel this past week.
If you’re 60 or older, you recall the euphoria that gripped the Jewish world in the wake of the undeniably miraculous victory of the Six Day War. You remember the pride in being Jewish, the stirring of our national soul. You walked with your head held high as the world looked on in awe. In Israel, even the most ardent secularists streamed to the Kotel and with tears in their eyes, kissed its ancient stones. Men, by the hundreds of thousands (In Israel and around the world) rolled up their sleeves to lay teffilin and recite the Shema, per the Rebbe’s Teffilin campaign.
And yet only in Israel could the miraculous gifts handed to us by G-d – the Kotel, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Judea and Samaria, the Golan – still be “disputed territory,” their status still “unresolved,” all because after the war we indicated to the Arabs and Americans our willingness to “return the territories,” much to their utter disbelief.
Thus was born the “pressure” and “unresolved Middle East conflict”.
Enough already – or as they say in Yiddish: genuk shoin!
As we recently commemorated 50 years of the unification of Jerusalem, it’s time to put this issue to rest. It’s time to declare before the world that this land is ours, never to be divided again. That we have returned to the Old City of Jerusalem, to Hebron, Efrat, Elon Moreh, to the Shomron and the Golan to stay forever, just like we returned to Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Haifa and Be’er Sheva.
As long as we keep the “negotiation” door open, we will incur continued pressure to compromise.
Yes, it will take great strength – but we need not rely solely on human or national strength, which have proven insufficient time and again. We must derive our strength and the justification of our cause from its source: G- d and His promise as stated in the Torah. Our claim to legitimacy is that we are the only democracy in the Middle East. Important as it is, that claim has not prevented the rise of the BDS movement and rampant anti-Israel propaganda in academia.
The case for Israel is G-d’s conveyance of this land to the Jewish people, and the Torah is our deed. Every other “case” has and will continue to fall short and leave us less respected in the eyes of the world.
Fifty years is the Jubilee year, the year of freedom. It is time to free of ourselves from the captivity of world opinion. Instead of asking ourselves, “What will the world say?” ask ourselves, “What does G-d say?”
The good news is that G-d is very clear and unambiguous in the last portion of Leviticus: “If you pursue My laws, guard My commands and observe them…You will live safely in your Land. I will grant peace in the Land, and you will go to sleep with nothing frightening you…Foreign swords will not pass through your Land. You will chase away your enemies and they will fall dead before you. Five of you will be able to chase away a hundred, and a hundred will able to chase away ten thousand”
The last two verses are a prophetic depiction of precisely what transpired during the Six Day War when we acted boldly, proactively, unapologetically, unbeholden to world opinion.
May the spirit that lifted us 50 years ago, rise again, raising us above the false forays of politics and into the zone of truth and the strength that comes with it. Only the truth will liberate us. •