Parashat Mas’ei: G-d’s Peace Plan
The coming weekly parashah (Torah portion) is Matot-Mas’ei, two parashot joined in one. From Mas’ei, the last parashah of the book of Numbers, I bring a passage that I have quoted before, but now with a full elaboration. HaShem’s words in Numbers 33:50–56:
 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying:  “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan,  then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places.  And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it.  And ye shall inherit the land by lot according to your families—to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer thou shalt give the less inheritance; wheresoever the lot falleth to any man, that shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers shall ye inherit.  But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that ye let remain of them be as thorns in your eyes, and as pricks in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land wherein ye dwell.  And it shall come to pass, that as I thought to do unto them, so will I do unto you.”
And the authoritative commentary He inspired upon Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi):
“And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein”: You shall drive out all its inhabitants, and then you will be able to stay in it; if not, you will not be able to stay in it.
“And as pricks in your sides”: The solvers who solve it say: it is of the meaning, “An enclosure of thorns covering you to close you and imprison you, such that there is no one who goes out and no one who comes in”.
Of course it was given concerning the seven nations (and indigenous peoples, by the way) of Canaan at the time. But there are those who conclude, from that, that it is not applicable today. In the sense that the Muslims do not have figured stones, molten images and high places as the pagans did, that is correct; but all the rest is open to discussion, and from the way things look today, the case for its applicability is very compelling. Compelling, both because of the theoretical matter of the truth that the Torah is a book for all ages, not a time-bound human-authored document as the unbelievers say, and because of the practical matter that the eyes can see that the warnings of the passage have come to pass—exactly.
In the recent war in Lebanon, almost a year ago, Hassan Nasrallah (may he go to hell soon, amen) called upon the Arabs of the Galilee to flee the state of Israel. They did not do so, but that was what had happened in nearly all cases in the Israeli War of Independence (1947–9). Some of the Arabs did flee under Jewish prodding, because the course of war made it necessary (the Leftists, as usual, will hold us to a unique and impossible standard, saying, “Jews aren’t meant to make war, they were chosen to bring peace to the world”. Nice of them to acknowledge our chosenness, but no, we’re not the ones who are destined to bring peace to the world, we’re not that powerful—G-d is the one to whom this honor belongs).
There was no premeditated plan of expulsion; the desired event according to mainstream Zionism was a partitioned land, shared between Jews and Arabs as per the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Having been attacked on the day of the announcement of the partition, and then by five Arab armies in 1948, the Jews could not be reasonably expected to lie down, and they had every right to expel all the aggressors. As history would have it, most of the Arabs fled of their own accord, out of the calling of their leaders. David Ben Gurion invited those Arabs to stay who did not participate in the aggression, in order that the world might see that the State of Israel was on a foundation of justice. He acted wisely in destroying the homes of those who had fled, in order that they could have nothing but fake keys to show the world—in order to give them an incentive to break with the past and begin new lives, just as the Jewish refugees from Islamic lands ended up building themselves, often from scratch, in the state of Israel. But then as now, the thirst for revenge militated against reconstruction for the Muslims.
So within the 1949 Armistice Line borders, we now have a 20% non-Jewish, Arab, mostly Muslim, minority in the state of Israel. Nearly a million and a half Arabs whose standards of living are much better than those of their sovereign brothers in any of the 22 existing Arab states; Christian Arabs with the rare privilege, extant only in Lebanon (and that too is falling into doubt), of not being accorded dhimmi status, not living under the apartheid regime of Islamic shariah law. And yet, recent times have seen them complaining about their status, and demanding changes to it.
Let us go now to 1967, to the aftermath of the Six-Day War, which was even worse: coupled with the utter folly on the part of Moshe Dayan, of giving the Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqf, all the Muslim inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were left to stay where they were. Jewish settlements were built alongside them, in violation of G-d’s commands quoted above. Again, the reason for those follies was the ill-founded, un-Jewish consideration of world opinion, of “what the non-Jewish paritz (town notable, the powerful figure in the Diaspora whom Jews often asked for help in trouble times) would think”. To show the world that the state of Israel is an enlightened state. Which it is, and has been from the start, to the extent possible in a region where enlightened values are short in supply, but the world no longer thinks so, and says loudly that it no longer thinks so.
Do not castigate me when I voice some points of agreement with the Leftists; I do so because they are true, but rest assured that we will always differ on the solutions. I say: the occupation, in the sense of controlling an enemy population, must end; the separation fence must go down; and the checkpoints must be dismantled. All that must be done—but only after all the Muslims have been expelled from the Land of Israel.
The Leftist “peaceniks” among us say the occupation (again, in the sense of keeping a military garrison to control an enemy population; not in the sense of “stealing land”, which we aren’t) is taking a heavy toll upon our sons serving to uphold it. I agree! They say the separation fence is effectively turning the state of Israel into one big Jewish ghetto, walling us off from non-Jewish enemies just as the ghettos and malahs of the Diaspora did. I agree with that too! Leftists abroad say the checkpoints are a top cause, a photogenic showcase, for “Islamists” to rally around in their hatred of the West. I agree even with that, though the caveats I make are legion (example: a few cartoons are all they need as an excuse to whip themselves up into a frenzy).
Indeed our soldiers—fathers, sons, brothers of every single Jew in Israel, not some putative far-off “mercenaries” of whom a blog owner could petulantly say, “Screw ’em!”—are chafing under this role. The Israel Defense Army was never meant to chase little children throwing Molotov cocktails. It is unhealthy and needs to be ended.
The separation fence and checkpoints, those enclosures of barbed wire turning Israel into a Jewish ghetto from which no one goes out and to which no one comes in, are a disaster. First, they are a political statement of our borders: they make it out as if there were a distinction between the territories within the 1949 Armistice Line and the territories retaken in 1967. They cover up the truth that both are equally the parts of the Land of Israel, which G-d has promised us throughout all the Torah. Second, they are antithetical to Jewish resurgence, that “Out of the Galut” mentality that underlay Secular Zionism and not just Religious Zionism. Jabotinsky’s call for an Iron Wall ensuring peace between the Jews of Israel and their non-Jewish enemies is better than the proposition that talks could achieve that, but it isn’t good enough. Walls (and fences) are the signs of siege, of a people huddled inside an enclosure, just waiting for it to be breached (which is what happened on the 17th of Tammuz). The defensive posture, unless it is a short-term tactic for the sake of long-term strategic gain, is a grave mistake. We did not return to our land after 2,000 years for that kind of existence.
The solution? From 1993 for over a decade, one proposition was tried, and found to fail: land for peace. 1967 territories to the Arabs, 1949 Armistice Line territories to the Jews, and they lived happily ever after. Trouble is, they didn’t: the reason the separation fence had to be constructed at all was that the other side never maintained a separation between the two territories. The other side, it seems, has been more faithful to G-d’s words about the Land of Israel than we have. Again and again, HaShem sends enemies upon us to bring us back to the right path. The Father chastises His beloved son. Nor has world opinion stayed the same: taking hold more and more, with each passing day, is the idea that Israel was a wrong and injustice from the start, a “white settler colony”, an “apartheid regime”, even a “Nazi-like enterprise” (may G-d burn those tongues who say those things).
The Muslims in both 1967 and 1949 territories have been, as G-d promised, harassing us in the land where we dwell. One of the shocks of the October 2000 uprising (the Al-Aqsa Intifada) was to see the Arabs within 1949 territories joining those of the 1967 territories in the riots. The documents demanding (demanding!) that the state of Israel relinquish its Jewish character are the final straw. They don’t even hide their intentions anymore! Just as G-d said: whichever of them we have left in the Land of Israel, out of mercy and heeding world opinion, have turned to be those who make our life perilous every day, a constant threat hanging over us.
Our leaders cannot go on with the same lines of the halcyon days of Oslo, but their “updated visions” are little better. A recent proposal, endorsed by a few Religious Zionist leaders as well, is to resettle the “Palestinian refugees” in Jordan, in an agreement which the “Palestinians” would accept voluntarily. Pipe dreams again. Not to mention that parts of the state of Jordan are within the boundaries of the Land of Israel, so that proposal goes against G-d’s commands too. There was no halakhic problem in giving back Sinai to Egypt; there is a problem in giving Gaza, Judea, Samaria or the Gilead to non-Jews. All the leaders seem to be in agreement in planning for a long war, a war of immense duration by necessity. See how, in their considerations of hostage exchanges, all sides of the debate proceed from the assumption that the war with Hamas and further hostage-takings (G-d forbid) will necessarily go on. But this is the thinking of unbelievers.
It is not necessary! If but we let go of the consideration of world opinion, and of the irrational fear of the International Court of “Justice” in the Hague, where self-appointed humans judge other humans without any solid basis, we could end this predicament entirely, within a few months! By expelling all the Muslims from the Land of Israel, most of our current woes would vanish like a bad dream.
We would no longer have to fear about hostages, for there would be no one to take hostages from us; our sons serving in the army would do the real work of soldiers, the work of fighting against armies and not grappling with unscrupulous guerrilla fighters, up to the day that there would be no longer need for an army at all; our civilian women and children would be able to roam the streets without fear, and to travel freely from any part to any part of the Land of Israel; economic prosperity would hit the roof, for there would be no enemy to vandalize what we have built, and no foreign investors would avoid our country on the grounds of security fears; overall, the losses from such a move, if any (a few weeks of international condemnation, I guess), would pale in comparison to the gains.
What is it about the G-d’s commands in Parashat Mas’ei that has so many people, even Religious Zionists, flinching from it? They keep the Sabbath, they try to prevent “Gay Pride” events from being held in G-d’s City, they hold debates about how best to observe the coming Sabbatical Year, but the command to expel all our enemies from the Land of Israel is a “fringe belief”?! The eyes can see how much we are losing because of our lack of heed to that explicit command.
The situation is mirrored in the whole world, in the form of the misnamed “Global War on Terror”: the rounds of appeasement, even unto dropping out “offensive terms”, as well as constant accommodation of the Muslims’ demands, is only making them more belligerent, for they give them confirmation that jihad pays. All these missteps, just in order not to be “racist”. Were the Muslims to be expelled from all their host non-Muslim countries, the current woes would vanish like a bad dream: no longer the fear of terrorist attacks, no longer the tortuous waits and checks at the airport, no longer the heavy expenditures for monitoring possible threats, and no longer the “racial tensions” which are in reality nothing but clashes between Muslim colonials and those who resist them. For the non-Jews, too, the solution is close at hand, if only the mentality of “death before considered a racist” were abandoned.
One could say G-d has brought this situation in globally in order that the world would one day understand and sympathize with us Jews in Israel, but I disagree: after all, Spain’s construction of a separation fence in Gibraltar to keep away illegal imm… uh, I mean, undocumented residents from Morocco doesn’t stop the Spaniards from criticizing Israel for its separation fence. No, it is the opposite: with the observation that events in Israel usually presage those of the rest of the world (Islamic terrorism being one of the prominent exhibits), it is only after we finally embark on doing the right thing that the rest of the world will follow suit. Whatever the case is going to be, world reaction should not even be in the list of our considerations.
For we know Who really is in charge of the world. He has spoken clearly in His word: when the Jews return to the land He has given them, the Land of Israel, they are to expel all those who form an opposition to the idea that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews. We should have done that in 1947–9, but what is past is past; let us, therefore, do it soon. May HaShem replace our current leaders with Torah-believing ones soon, amen.