Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Potency of a Right

Nadav Shragai
26 June '09

One can continue waging the argument with the United States over settlements by citing mathematical figures, numbers and formulas on natural growth or natural development, and perhaps doing so is the correct thing, but whoever believes that settling the territories of Judea and Samaria is the actualization of a natural right and historical justice cannot be content with simply stating these figures.

Perhaps one can continue to bombard George Mitchell with numbers; to inform him that the settlers constitute 17 percent of the residents of Judea and Samaria (300,000 out of a total population of 1.8 million people); that the built-up areas in the settlements occupy just 1.7 percent of the land area of Judea and Samaria; and that if the settlers continue to build solely at the rate of their natural growth (9,000 births per year), they will only need a small fraction of the area to do so (0.054 percent of the territory).

Perhaps it's possible to persuade Mitchell and his boss, President Barack Obama, that over the next decade the settlers will consume just one-half of one percent for construction purposes in an area already delineated as "their municipal boundaries." But this math is just a minor argument between merchants. One might expect more national pride and a clearer, more lucid statement from a government that believes Judea and Samaria are inseparable parts of the historic homeland, and at the very least sees the "settlement blocs" as an inseparable part of the State of Israel in any final status accord. Perhaps a statement in the spirit of Simon Maccabaeus, who said: "We have neither taken other men's land, neither do we hold that which is other men's: but the inheritance of our fathers, which was for some time unjustly possessed by our enemies."

Our friends in the United States, both real and imagined, need to hear from us that the historic, religious, legal and sentimental links that bind the people of Israel with Hebron and Beit El are no less legitimate than those of the Palestinians; that we are not occupiers in our own country and that there are Jews for whom this land is holy, just as it is holy to Palestinians - Jews whose connection to these pieces of land are bound by love, the Bible, tradition, nature and beauty.

Many years ago, a member of the British House of Lords asked Chaim Weizmann why the Jews insist on settling in the Land of Israel when there are so many undeveloped countries that could serve as a national home. Weizmann responded with a question: Why do you drive 200 kilometers every Sunday to visit your mother when there are so many old ladies living on your street?

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