Politics & Policy

The U.S. and Biblical Israel

Section of a map of Israel in Old Testament times. (Bible History Online)
Instead of the “two-state solution,” restore what God gave Abraham’s people.

By now, most Americans know that the “two-state solution” is no solution to the war that supremacist Muslims have been waging against the state of Israel since its rebirth in 1948. Most Americans in public life know it too, but in public, nearly all of them pay lip service to the idea of a Palestinian state. To do that plausibly, they have to studiously avoid any public mention of facts about the Palestinians that make it glaringly obvious that a Palestinian state is not in America’s national interest; and glaringly clear that empowering the Palestinians and the forces and ideas they represent is a self-destructive policy — a threat to our national security and a defeat for our values.

In the last Republican primary debate of 2011, Newt Gingrich broke the rules, giving voice to three undeniable facts about the Palestinians. He said: “These people are terrorists,” with an “invented identity,” and they teach their children that hating and killing Jews is their highest purpose in life. Michele Bachmann quickly backed him up with a factual account of the ubiquitous Saudi-financed textbooks that teach precisely that, from pre-school through university. Proper foreign-policy types, on and off the stage, reacted as if all this truth-telling were somehow akin to profaning a sacred script, but the Iowa audience was with the truth-tellers. They applauded wildly.


The “two-state solution” wasn’t always sacrosanct. In the 1940s and ’50s, it didn’t even exist. There were no Palestinians then, although the territory had been called the British Mandate for Palestine (after the old Roman name for Israel, Palestina). Arabs had never called themselves Palestinians; the few Jews who had called themselves that in the 1930s no longer did. There were only Arabs and Jews, and the openly avowed goal of all the Arab states surrounding Israel was to drive the Jews into the sea, and divide up the land amongst themselves. Arabs inside Israel were no less committed to that same pan-Arab goal. It was only in the 1960s, after the abject failure of repeated multi-state military assaults by massed Arab armies, that Arab rulers finally accepted the fact that Israel was not yet weak enough for them to destroy in open warfare.

Worse — from their perspective — each time Israel’s 5 million or fewer Jews defeated the Arabs who attacked her with hordes that numbered in the tens of millions, Israel gained in size and strength, and in the respect and admiration in which most of the world held her. We tend to forget now, but in earlier decades America was not Israel’s only ally. Europe was also pro-Israel then, and the two biggest, most rapidly developing Muslim nations in the region — Turkey and Iran — were Israeli allies. They were our allies too, in those days. Then as now, the Arab world was unified against Israel and against the West, but the Muslim world was not, and Europe had yet to capitulate to the Islamists.

After their major military defeat in 1967, Arab rulers finally faced up to these realities, grasped their implications, and rethought their war strategy. They realized then that, to win, they had to first attack with Taqqiya, not tanks. Taqqiya — lies to deceive the enemy into making himself vulnerable — is a venerable Arab weapon, one that Arab states have wielded for centuries, and they are quite skilled at it. They saw that before attacking Israel again, they had to first win what we call a propaganda war, in order to discredit Israel, strip away her allies, and apply enough diplomatic pressure to wring from her a mounting series of concessions that would, in the end, render the Jewish state indefensible. For a propaganda war like that, enlisting the aid of non-Arabs was critical, and the old Arab rallying cry — “Join your Arab brothers in driving the Jews into the sea” — was not helpful for that purpose. Neither was the image of 22 Arab states — with some 300 million people, millions of square miles of sparsely populated land, and vast amounts of oil wealth — ganging up on a few million Jews, who were clinging to a resource-poor strip of seacoast about half the size of the small ancient state of Israel.

Arab kings and dictators saw that they needed a small ersatz victim group to champion, in order to compete with the all-too-real victim image of the Jews, so they invented one, picking up the name the British had used — Palestine — to conjure up a new Arab people — the Palestinians. And of course, to demand a 23rd Arab state for them. They did this suddenly and in virtual unison, catching by surprise many Arabs in Israel who had no idea they were Palestinians. And from that day to this, Arab leaders have pushed the great Taqqiya relentlessly in every international forum, using the huge amounts of money and leverage their oil wealth gave them to court politicians, diplomats, journalists, and educators around the globe, and to saturate media markets and schools everywhere with their great lie.

Growing numbers of states succumbed to it from the 1970s on, joining the Arabs in pressing for a Palestinian state, but America didn’t really buy the great Taqqiya until quite recently. The Oslo accord — the ersatz peace agreement President Clinton and Israeli prime minister Yizhak Rabin signed with the ersatz Palestinians on Sept. 13, 1993 — offered them self-rule, but not a state. Palestinian statehood did not become official American policy until June 24, 2002, when George W. Bush became the first U.S. president to endorse the idea, albeit with reasonable-sounding requirements, at first. In the decade since that fateful day, all requirements have been abandoned, and both America and Israel have suffered a continuing series of losses, disappointments, retreats, and defeats. Year after year, we made concession after concession, getting nothing, and less than nothing, in return. Today, it is painfully obvious to almost everyone that real peace — an end to continuing hatred, incitement, rocket and terrorist attacks, and threats of wars of annihilation down the road — is further away now than ever. It is equally obvious that a Palestinian state would be a terrorist state, a mortal threat to Israel.

Slightly less obvious, perhaps, is the fact that a Palestinian state would be a serious threat to us, too, because the Palestinians are controlled — by their own choice — by the Muslim Brotherhood’s most aggressive terrorist arm, Hamas, just as once-Christian Lebanon is now controlled by the terrorists of Hezbollah. As I write this, the Brotherhood is in the process of taking control of Egypt, the Sunni population giant to the west, while Hezbollah is controlled by Iran, the Shiite population giant to the east. These terrorist groups and their sponsoring states don’t threaten only Israel. Most Americans know they have directed their bombs at us, too, and not just in the Middle East, so it is no mystery that big majorities of Americans in public as well as private life are opposed to Palestinian statehood now.


The mystery is why so many Americans who recognize these obvious facts fail to reject the two-state “solution” altogether; why, instead of saying a clear, confident “No” to the two-state idea, they can only respond to the unending pressure from Muslim supremacists in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, their appeasers in the U.N. and the EU, and their allies on the Bill Ayers Left with a feeble, evasive “Not now.” Why don’t we stand up and say, “No. A Palestinian state is a Trojan horse of an idea; accepting it was a great mistake, and it is past time to firmly and finally reject it”? Some few won’t do that because they still cling to the blind faith that if we just push the Israelis to make more of the sorts of increasingly painful and enfeebling concessions they have been making to no avail since the Oslo accord two decades ago, Muslim supremacists will suddenly make a 180-degree turn and say, “Okay, that’s enough, we accept you as equals,” and peace and brotherhood with a small b — a brotherhood that embraces all people everywhere, not just Muslims — will prevail at last. Most Americans abandoned that illusion years ago, slowly and regretfully, but fully.

The problem for the great majority of Americans, I think, is that they have no new formulation with which to replace the two-state idea, no new policy idea they can openly embrace and work to implement in its stead. And when they look for one in the tangle of U.N. legalisms that greeted Israel’s rebirth, they get nowhere, because it is the wrong starting place. The shrunken and misshapen little piece of lowland the U.N. initially ceded to Israel was militarily indefensible — an open invitation to the attacks that followed. Looking for answers in the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl founded in Europe in the 19th century is no answer either. Herzl and his pioneering followers in Europe and America did yeoman’s work, culminating in modern Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, but it is shortsighted Western ethnocentrism to say that they created Israel.

A Jewish state in Biblical Israel could not be created by the U.N. or by the Jews of the West, only re-created. Ancient walls, scrolls, steles, and pottery, meticulously dated by modern science, bear irrefutable testimony to the existence of Biblical Israel. It was created nearly 4,000 years ago, and Jews have lived there, continuously, ever since.

It was only in the last 400 or so years that they migrated to the West in significant numbers, first to Europe and then to America. As late as the 19th century, a majority of all the world’s Jews still lived in the Middle East. Often, in their long, tortured past, they were reduced to a remnant in Israel itself, but they never disappeared entirely, and most did not go far; they remained in the Middle East. And from the rise of Islam in the seventh century on, they lived there as dhimmis, subservient, regarded as religious inferiors, impoverished, mostly, and with no rights that a Muslim was bound to respect. Today, these native Middle Eastern Jews — not Ashkenazi immigrants from the west — are a majority of all the Jews in Israel. They became the majority not long after Israel declared its independence in 1948, because Arabs in Middle Eastern countries where Jews had lived for centuries responded by stripping them of whatever possessions they had and driving them out, creating about a million refugees. Mass expulsions like this were not new to the Jewish people, east or west, but this time, all the Jews had a place to go. Nearly all of the eastern Jews, the Mizrahi, went home, to Israel.

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.


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.


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