Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
The writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law, whose works include the series on Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" and a popular weekly column "Revivim" in the Besheva newspaper. His books "The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated into English. Otherby Rabbi Melamed can be viewed at: www.yhb.org.il/1
Israel can emerge from the current struggle victorious, provided we thoroughly understand the ambition and goal of our enemies. The merciful among our enemies are willing to settle for the destruction of Israel, killing the Jews who oppose them, while leaving the remaining ones to be humiliated dhimmis forced to pay high taxes to the Muslim rulership – according to the tradition of moderate Islam.
\The cruel ones hope to murder most of the Jews, according to the militant Islamic tradition. That’s what the leading Sunni and Shiite leaders in the world are saying, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian rulers. They have no reason to lie, so it can be inferred that they speak the truth.
In contrast to honest and candid Muslim leaders, Palestinian Authority leaders do not speak about abolishing the State of Israel because they fear that if they reveal their cards too early they will lose their status in Israel and the world. But this truth crops up in their statements from time to time.
The War on Faith and the Land
Clearly, from our enemies’ point of view, the war is not about one piece of territory or another, but over the very existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, a reality radically opposed to the fundamentals of their faith. Therefore, anything weakening the State of Israel is considered a victory for them and defeat for us; anything strengthening the sovereignty and Jewish identity of Israel is considered a defeat for them, and a victory for us.
Strengthening the Jewish Identity of the State
Today, the majority of the elected representatives of Israeli Arab citizens are conducting a war of incitement and provocation against Israel and gnawing at its strength. If as a result of the wave of terror, the government changes the situation in which Israeli Arabs have rights without obligations; if it denies the residency status of over 100,000 Arabs who infiltrated the State of Israel under the cover of the law of ‘Family Reunification’; if it encourages the of those hostile to the State of Israel – then, the results of the current struggle will be a great victory, transmitting a clear message to all our enemies that we are the victors and becoming stronger.
If out of this struggle the government of Israel approves plans for expansion of Jewish communities in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and annexes the territories on which Jewish towns exist in Judea and Samaria - it will be clear to all the Arabs that the war against us led them to defeat, and their urge to fight us will diminish.
Political Commentators and Analysts
Political commentators and analysts and their mentors in academia, are confident that mankind’s sole ambitions are democracy, freedom, and economic prosperity. Thus, in their opinion, the motive for terrorism is the "occupation" the Arabs are subjected to, and the despair gripping them in the absence of a political process that will bring an end to the "occupation".
Surprise! Each additional hint of sovereignty given to the Arabs only increases their hatred and assaults against us. The “experts” are confident that the more money and education the Arabs have, the less they will want to engage in terrorism and wars. But once again – surprise! The majority of the current and past killers do not come from poor and uneducated families – on the contrary! Bin Laden was not a poor and uneducated person either.
It is no wonder that all the of the “experts” were proven false. They fail to understand what a nation is all about, what religious belief is all about – and in fact – what human beings are all about. That's how they plunged the United States and Europe into a mistaken Middle East policy, as well as causing European countries to accept Muslim immigrants without integrating them and in consequence, leading their countries to disaster.
The Weakness of the Government and the Courage of the Public
Unfortunately, since the government and its leader lack the faith and determination required to act boldly to strengthen Israel’s sovereignty and settlement, it is difficult to expect a clear victory. But with God's help, we may be able to take comfort in a partial victory – thanks only to the devotion and determination of men of faith and action within our midst.
Our nation has a weak government with good intentions. The same holds true for the majority of the public, who indeed would prefer that all of Judea and Samaria remain in our hands, and who side with the settlers in their hearts, but lack the faith and courage to demand an outright victory over our Arab enemies.
It could be said that in their worldview, the public and government are captive to the erroneous assumptions of the majority of academics and political analysts, namely, that if we compromise and don’t offend the Arabs’ feelings we will achieve peace, security, and a good life. On the other hand, in their hearts they aspire to victory, the expansion of settlements, sovereignty and Jewish identity, and feel that no compromise will bring peace.
The public, bearing no responsibility, is willing to patriotic and faith-based positions, whereas the leadership, which does bear responsibility and is exposed to international pressures, does not dare give expression to these views, because it lacks an alternative policy to present to the world rationally, confidently, and with conviction. Only at election times is the country’s leadership more attuned to the mood of the public, for example, the Prime Ministers’ pledge before the elections to amend the law of citizenship and expand "settlements".
The Struggle Can Go Either Way
The struggle can go either way – for better, or for worse. If we to the failed political commentators and world leaders – we will decide to withdraw and bring a catastrophe upon ourselves, as we did with the tragic Oslo . If we follow our instincts – we will press forward, settle the Land, and achieve victory.
A Cautious Evaluation: Partial Victory
Since the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria already number hundreds of thousands and in the words of the Left "is stuck like a bone in [Israel's] throat" hindering plans of further withdrawal, it is difficult to promise the Arabs further withdrawals. Even the freezing of settlements is difficult, because the life-force within the communities pulsates so strongly. Our own bodies are obstructing the “throat of the devil” who wishes to swallow us.
Since ordinary citizens are unwilling to give-in to terrorism and demand the government retaliate, it is difficult for the government to appease the Arabs with money or further erosion of Jewish identity in the State of Israel.
The only remaining option for the government is to mobilize the police and the army, strike the terrorists and their infrastructure, and weaken the ability of our enemies.
And since many Arabs support the terrorists, there is no choice but to exercise caution and suspicion towards the entire Arab population – within the “Green Line” and beyond it – a measure that embitters the lives of the good Arabs and the bad ones alike, and in practice, encourages the continuation of Arab emigration abroad.
People of Faith and Deeds
The believers and men and women of action – the rabbis and educators who strengthen Jewish identity, the settlers of Judea and Samaria, and the various dedicated security personnel who refuse to surrender to terrorism – they are the determining factor. Thanks to them, we will hopefully continue defeating our enemies, expand settlement in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, our holy and glorious city – specifically in the areas surrounding the Temple Mount, where “the precious sons of Zion, as precious as fine gold” reside – men of faith and action alike.
Through the steadfastness of all the good Jews from the left and the right, who advance the State of Israel both morally, socially, and economically, the State of Israel marches forward and new immigrants continue to knock at her doors - nearly 30,000 last year.
Jewish immigrants from prosperous Western countries bend down on the tarmac of the airport and kiss the ground of Israel, and thus, the words of the Prophet are realized: "I will also allow the House of Israel to ask me to do this for them: that I increase them like a human flock. Like the holy flock, like the flock of Jerusalem at its festivals…Then they will know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 36: 37-38).
Therefore, strengthening of the Torah and Jewish faith, building and settling the land, strengthening of society, the army, economy, sciences and arts related to Jewish culture, draws us closer to victory over our enemies.
Optimistic Fertility Figures
This is the time to share the important summation of the notable researcher, Yoram Ettinger, regarding our demographic state of affairs.
By the grace of God, the Jewish fertility rate in Israel is rising from year to year. Fifteen years ago it stood at 2.6 children per woman, and is now 3.11. This rate is far higher than the fertility rate in all developed countries. It is also higher than all Arab countries, except for three.
In contrast, the fertility rate among Muslim women who have Israeli citizenship is steadily declining. Fifteen years ago it was approximately 4.5 per woman, and last year declined to 3.15.
The Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria dropped to 2.76 births compared to 5.0 births fifteen years ago (according to the annual report of the C.I.A.).
The reason for the high birth rate among Israeli Arabs as compared to Arabs of Judea and Samaria are the child allowances and other social benefits that Israeli Arabs receive from the state – not that they show any gratefulness for these benefits, quite the contrary
The Status of the Population
The Arab population in Judea and Samaria numbers approximately 1,700,000 and the number of Arab citizens of Israel is also 1,700,000 – though the Palestinian Authority publishes false demographics, for example, counting people who were born 170 years ago, and more than 400,000 people who emigrated abroad.
In conclusion, 6.6 million Jews currently reside in Israel, alongside 1.7 million Arabs within the “Green Line”, and 1.7 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria - a majority of 66%, also benefiting from the impetus of new births and immigration.
The Aging of the Arab Population opposed to Jewish Rejuvenation
The future continues to bode well for the nation of Israel. In contrast to the Jewish population which is getting younger on account of increased fertility and the absorption of many young immigrants, Arab society in Judea and Samaria is aging rapidly: the average age rose to 22.7, compared with 17.0 fifteen years ago (C.I.A. annual report).
The average age is rising because in addition to a decline in fertility, there is a constant negative emigration of Arabs from Judea and Samaria abroad (20,000 in 2013, 25,000 in 2014, etc.). The waves of terror resulting in the closure and blockade of cities and villages and the other I.D.F. actions that follow in their wake, continue to encourage emigration. Since the majority of those emigrating abroad are young, the Arab population in Judea and Samaria will continue to age and decrease.
The Present Leadership
The Prime Minister and the majority of his administration are aware of these optimistic facts. From their point of view therefore, as long as we continue progressing, the situation is acceptable. However, if we had a leadership that could generate a substantial victory from this struggle, we would spare ourselves a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and the State of Israel would progress and flourish spiritually, demographically, socially and economically at an even faster pace.
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting articles by Rabbi Melamed, and all of his highly acclaimed books in the ‘Peninei Halakha’ series of Jewish Law and Thought (in Hebrew, and in the meantime, a few in English) can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il/