But no matter where they were, religious Jews never forgot the dream of a return to Zion, greeting one another each year, on Rosh Hashanah, the penitential Jewish New Year, by saying, “Next year in Yerushalayim” (Jerusalem). And, until the 20th century, most Jews were religious. Like most Christians then, and a majority of American Christians now, they believed what the Old Testament teaches: that God gave Biblical Israel — the land from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the Golan Heights to the Red Sea — to the Jews to be their homeland forever. They believe that God directed Abraham, the first Jew, to settle there, in Hebron, where he still lies, and his tomb still stands.
Abraham is the man who gave the world monotheism. Born into a primitive, polytheistic world where every tribe had its own jealous and exclusive god, often one that required human sacrifice, Abraham’s God taught him that there is only one God, a God who created the universe and all mankind, a God who rejects human sacrifice. And from that day to this, Jews at prayer repeat the same ancient affirmation of monotheism: “Shema Yisrael. Adonai Elohanu, Adonai Echad.” (Hear O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is One.) This one God is a God of justice, the Old Testament tells us, the God who gave us the Ten Commandments, to make clear our duty to treat all men justly.
The Old Testament tells us that He did this on Mount Sinai, a ways south of the Bethlehem birthplace of the next world-changing Jew, Jesus Christ; or from his crucifixion site on Mount Calvary. Jesus came to us 2,000 years ago, the New Testament tells us, to teach the world love and forgiveness, and well over 2 billion people — about a third of the people on earth — believe that He is God’s own Son, sent here by a merciful Father Who took pity on us mortal sinners and offered redemption and the promise of paradise to all who embrace Him and show true repentance. All this and more happened in Israel, the unique state whose essential geographical boundaries, the Bible tells us, were drawn by God Himself. No wonder, then, that the whole of Biblical Israel is and always has been holy ground to Bible believers everywhere. It is also militarily defensible ground, because it includes both Judea and Samaria — the land Muslim supremacists taught us to call “the West Bank” — as well as the high ground to the north, the Golan Heights.
“So what?” I hear my secular friends saying. “What has all this ancient history got to do with us, here in America, in 2012? Why should we care?” The answer is that we should all care, whether we are Jews, Christians, or Americans of other faiths, or of none, because our civilization — the Judeo-Christian civilization, from which we have all benefited enormously, and of which we are all a part — is under fierce attack today by Muslim supremacists, determined to force us all to bow down before them, either by converting to Islam or by accepting the status of dhimmis. This war did not start with the emergence of modern Israel; it has nothing to do with Israel’s treatment of the million or so Arabs in its midst; and it will not end if we allow Israel to be destroyed.
This war began in the seventh century, when Muhammad, believing that God had ordered him to conquer and rule the whole world in the name of Islam, first used Taqqiya to trick and then slaughter Jews in Saudi Arabia who did not bow to his new religion, and then went on to conquer large parts of the Arab world. It began, and continues today, because too many Muslims still refuse to accept people of other faiths — Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian — as equals they can respect and live in peace with; because too many are still committed to using Taqqiya and violence to establish their supremacy and our subservience. The problem is not that we have mistreated Muslims or failed to show them the respect they are due as people with great civilizational achievements in their own pasts. The problem is that supremacist Muslims have no respect for us. Accepting the ersatz identity of the so-called Palestinian people and groveling before this and other supremacist Taqqiyas does not win us respect. It earns us contempt, and strengthens the conviction — growing by leaps and bounds all over the Muslim world today, even in once-friendly Muslim lands — that we are a weak, confused, and cowardly people, remnants of a dying civilization, ripe for toppling. To change their minds, and our future, we need to reject the Palestinian Taqqiya and embrace Biblical Israel.
MUSLIM FRIENDS AND OUR SECULAR REPUBLIC Of course, not all Muslims believe in asserting Muslim supremacy by rejecting all Western ideas as haram (forbidden) and using Taqqiya and force to bring us to our knees. It is a fact beyond legitimate dispute that millions of Muslims wholeheartedly reject the supremacist credo, and yearn to live in peace and friendship with us, glad to embrace the best ideas the West has developed and integrate them with the best from their own traditions. Atatürk, the great man who founded modern Turkey in 1923, did exactly that, proudly and openly. His Ottoman predecessors — the remarkable men who ruled Turkey and much of the rest of the known world before him — treated foreign ideas in a quite similar manner for centuries, before closing themselves off to Western developments in the 19th century and falling behind the West. We should take heart from these brave, often embattled Muslim allies and support them, wherever and however we can, but we should not take false comfort from them. There are, after all, at least a billion and a half Muslims in the world today, and, at the present time, the sad truth is that most of them are with the supremacists, in no small part because theirs looks more and more like the winning side.
To convince Muslim supremacists that theirs is a losing strategy, and to make at least a partial reality of our vision of a world where all peace-loving people can live as equals despite our differences, we need to lift our heads with pride, and encourage our Israeli allies to do the same. We must end the mindless repetition of enemy propaganda about “occupied land,” and encourage our Israeli allies to annex the whole of Biblical Israel, claiming the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity as rightfully theirs and insisting that Muslims respect their right to do so, and our right to back them up with our full might. Shocked at the idea of taking religion into account in recognizing sovereignty, anywhere in the world? Think again. Is it wrong to take religion into account in recognizing the birthplace of Islam in Mecca and Medina as Arab land? Wrong for America to recognize the Vatican?
Does it follow then that we should, perhaps, define and structure America on a religious basis, too, as a Christian nation? No, it does not. The idea that there is one best way to define and govern all states at all times is often well-intentioned, but, because it is blind to the reality of critical differences, it is often destructive in its effects. Our founders had it right, for us. They were men of faith, mainly — Christian faith — but they gave us a Constitution that defined and structured America as a republic of secular laws where a carefully limited and balanced government lets free people worship or not as they please, so long as they respect the rights of everyone else who is willing to respect our laws and live with us in peace. But we should not let the brilliance of our Constitution blind us to a fact that our founding fathers never forgot: No constitution — no system of government of any kind — can preserve freedom if a majority of the country’s people are not mostly fair, honest, law-abiding, and loving. That is what Ben Franklin had in mind when he answered a woman’s question about what sort of government he and his fellow founders had given America’s people by saying: “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”
We have managed to keep it, for more than two centuries now, and you don’t have to be either a Jew or a Christian to grasp the fact that the moral precepts of Judaism and Christianity played a seminal role in making the people of America as good and open and all-embracing as most of us are, at our best. Of course, you don’t have to be a Christian or a Jew to be a good person. But all good people should have the good sense and humility to accept the fact that these religions played a major part in making us who we are. If you love America, and appreciate the freedom, opportunity, and security she gives you, you should not let Muslim supremacists — who hate us no less than they hate Israel — destroy, or redefine out of existence, the one small Middle Eastern state where all that goodness arose.
— Barbara Lerner is a frequent contributor to NRO.