- Family and Society
- Settling the Land of Israel
Since the Saudi Arabian “peace initiative,” people have once again been speaking about a Palestinian State. During the Oslo Accords, most rabbis came out against this proposal, but perhaps now, after everything else seems to have failed, a Palestinian State is the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is your opinion?
No, no, no, no! This is a question that arises out of a general sense of frustration and despair when Arabs in the Holy Land murder Jew after Jew. The first thing we have to understand is the absolute, irrevocable axiom that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. Israel belongs to all of the Jewish people - past, present, and future. Israel belongs only to the Jewish people through an eternal Divine decree. Do the Arabs have any rights whatsoever in the Land of Israel? Not as a nation. Rabbi Kook would often say that our war is not against Muhammad and Mustafa. He meant to say that we don’t have a war against every individual Arab. If there are individual Arabs who are willing to live peacefully in Israel in clear acceptance of our goals for a holy Jewish State, then they can stay here in the halachic framework of a ger toshav. However, we have to understand that there is no room in the Middle East for a Jewish State and a Palestinian State that has the same capital and territorial boundaries. The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people exclusively. It was promised to Avraham, to Yitzhak, to Yaacov, and to their descendants for all time. This promise is repeated again and again in the Torah. The Jewish people have a positive commandment to conquer and dwell in the Land. The Ramban states in his Supplement to the Rambam’s Book of Commandments (Positive Commandment #4) that this commandment applies in all generations, even today. This law is recorded in the Shulchan Orach, Petchai T’shuva, Aven HaEzer, 84. The Ramban emphasizes that it is a mitzvah to make sure that the Land of Israel stays in the hands of the Jewish people, under Jewish sovereignty, and that no other nation be permitted to rule here. The State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces are the apparatuses to fulfill this mitzvah, in order to make sure that no foreign nation makes any claims to our Land. Supporting the State of Israel, living in Israel, enlisting in Tzahal are all mitzvahs in safeguarding Eretz Yisrael for the Jews.  This is the milchemet mitzvah of the Torah, according to the Ramban (loc cit.) the Rambam , and every other rabbi, without any disagreement whatsoever. Everything that Tzahal does to carry out this mitzvah is justified and moral. Could Tzahal do more? Certainly it could. Tzahal should do everything that is militarily possible to ensure that Jewish life in Israel is not threatened by any outside forces HaRav Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook summarized the right of the Jewish People to Eretz Yisrael in a most decisive fashion. In a public proclamation, he wrote: “ONCE AND FOREVER, THE MATTER IS CLEAR AND ABSOLUTE – THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO ARAB TERRITORIES OR ARAB LANDS, BUT RATHER JEWISH LANDS, THE ETERNAL INHERITANCE OF OUR FATHERS. OTHERS CAME AND BUILT UPON THEM WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION WHILE WE WERE NOT HERE. WE NEVER ABANDONED NOR FORSOOK THE INHERITANCE OF OUR FOREFATHERS. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, WE CONTINUED OUR ABSOLUTE UNYIELDING TIES TO THE LAND, WHILE MAINTAINING OUR ABSOLUTE PROTEST TO THEIR CRUEL AND ARTIFICIAL OCCUPATION. WE ARE COMMANDED TO LIBERATE THESE LANDS, AND WE WILL NOT LEAVE THEM, NOR BE REMOVED FROM THEM FOREVER.” HaRav Tzvi Yehuda reminds us that the Arabs are the occupying forces in Israel, not the Jewish People. Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Harlop, one of Rabbi Avraham HaCohen Kook’s foremost students, wrote: “If the heads of the government will have to sign an international agreement that will include a statement relinquishing any iota of our rights to the Land of Israel, it is preferable that the signers amputate their thumbs, rather than amputate the heavenly garden of Zion.” (Published in Techumin, Vol. 9, Pg. 272.) The revered, Harav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Rabbi of Jerusalem, wrote: If we have the capability to acquire all of the Land of Israel, the inheritance of our Fathers, then the matter is simple that we do not have permission to relinquish our claim to even one clod of earth and hand it over to foreigners, for we have learned in the Mishna (Avodah Zorah, 19B) that one may not sell land in Israel to gentiles.” (Techumin, Vol. 9, Pg. 276.) The more that we realize and come to believe in our hearts that the Land of Israel is the exclusive inheritance and possession of the Jewish People, the more we will increase our valor and resolve in defending our Land and in triumphing over our enemies.  Torat Eretz Yisrael, The Teachings of HaRav Tzvi Yehuda, Chapter Seven.  Rambam, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 5:1.