For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
We are waiting patiently, as the fuse burns down on another Middle Eastern powder keg. On Sept. 20, as the next United Nations session opens, Mahmoud Abbas will present a declaration of statehood to the General Assembly, on behalf of the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank. Though unilateral, it will be welcomed by a voting majority which includes all the dictatorships of the Muslim world and Africa.
Full membership in the UN requires the sanction of the Security Council, where there is an American veto. That will almost certainly be exercised, even by the Obama administration. But for all practical purposes, the Palestinian Authority has been a member for a long time, and been behaving as a state. It has the ultimate hallmark of a state, for it conducts its own foreign policy, freely.
We live, I have argued, in a "postmodern" time, under post-modern conditions, including those created by post-modern wars and diplomacy. The difference between "de facto" and "de jure" has been lost. This may have seemed "academic" even to many in the past; and it could be said that the whole history of the nation state is de facto becoming de jure. But the attempt to preserve certain legal niceties was responsible for a great deal of peace and order. Even tyrants hesitated to cross taboo lines, in the days when those lines were enforced.
The Palestinians, so far as they are a people, have now a long history of being able to do things without consequences. (They are not ethnically distinct from neighbouring Arabs, but defined by family ties to a given location.) Under the direction of a succession of "reformed" or unreformed terrorist leaders, from the Mufti of Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat to Hamas, they have "evolved" a polity which may itself be defined as "the Anti-Israel."
Israel is consistently held to account, both internally and externally, as an old-fashioned, formal nation state. When the Israelis respond to rocket attacks from Gaza, they are compelled to justify their action. But the people who sent the rockets are not. And supposing them to have been launched "freelance" by independent terror cells, the authority which governs Gaza is not held gravely responsible for having failed to stop them.
Imagine what the consequences would be, if Israeli citizens, acting independently, began lobbing missiles into the Palestinian territories, gratuitously at targets both civilian and military - whatever happened to be in range. And then, the Israeli authorities made no gesture to stop them. The diplomats of the world would spit up their sherry. Our peace-loving politicians would go berserk.
Yet they have nothing to say after each of many thousand Qassams comes down within Israeli borders of the strictest 1947 definition.
Take this mental exercise one step farther. What if a party in the Israeli Knesset - a party in a position to sweep any free election - announced in its very constitution that Israel's borders extend from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean, and include all deep-historical areas of Jewish settlement, including the entire West Bank. That, moreover, while Jews and perhaps a few quiet Christians are allowed to stay, all Muslims must get out. On pain of death.
Yet the reverse of this is the "final position" of Palestinian statecraft.
Hamas declares it openly, and swept the only election in which it was allowed to freely run. The operatives of the PLO used to declare it, but made an ambiguous recognition of Israel's "right to exist" - tactically, in exchange for substantial territories, and Israeli complaisance in their own "right" to enter and govern them.
If an identifiable Jew from Israel wanders, unguarded, into any part of the Palestinian territories, he is a dead man. This is a fact of life, and everyone knows it. Leftist and Islamist rhetoric about Israeli "apartheid" masks a very big truth: that more than a million Muslim Arabs live, work, and move freely around Israel, with full citizenship and protection under Israel's laws (enforced by very liberal courts). Whereas, the number of Jews enjoying this status under the Palestinian Authority is zero.
The western position has been, settle a boundary, let Israel live in peace within it, let Palestinians live in peace on the other side. Let all past claims be resolved by direct negotiations, under international supervision. This is called "the two state solution."
It sounds plausible, but only so long as we avert our eyes from the reality.
The UN will be granting Palestinian statehood without a resolution of anything. It will be a reward for consistent Palestinian refusal to negotiate in good faith, or to deliver on any significant undertakings made under the various Madrid, Oslo, and other "peace agreements" reached in the past.
Israel was told to exchange Gaza for peace. All the Jewish settlements in Gaza were uprooted. All the Israeli troops were withdrawn. Observe what happened.
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I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"