Letter from Gush Etzion
By Ari Silbermann
I awoke the morning of September 27th to the joyful sounds of bulldozers just outside my window. The sounds of Jews building in the Land of Israel. We had waited for months to see what would happen. Whether Obama would manage to pressure the Israeli government to renege on their pledges to their voting public or whether Bibi would stick to his word and in so doing explain to the Palestinians that they had once again managed to miss an opportunity by squandering 10 months in order to, cynically, gain some kind of leverage in the negotiations. And this morning (at least for now) our answer had arrived. The Government of Israel was returning to build in Yehuda and Shomron and was stating to the world, that peace is brokered between two parties willing to accept each other’s narratives and compromise on them. Regardless of the fashion in much of the ‘enlightened’ world, the Government of the State of Israel has managed to hold onto the Jewish narrative – one which, unflinchingly, acknowledges the Jewish people’s connection to the land which saw much of early Jewish history played out. They have sent a resounding message to the world that we too have a stake in this land, even if we acknowledge a need to part with it for the sake of the future – we too have rights here and we will only talk without preconditions and only once our narrative is heard.
For some reason, it has become mainstream in many parts of the Left to play down our connection to the land, maybe for fear of being labeled a right winger, maybe for fear of being labeled a supporter of the occupation. It still puzzles me why the Left cannot harmonize their political wish to relinquish parts of Yehuda and Shomron with the deep ties they themselves have with this land and therefore the other parts of Israel? We recently saw a perfect example of this in Haaretz and in an article on Galus when there were those who believed Australian Birthright participants had no business visiting Hebron – whose importance in Jewish tradition cannot be denied. Even Ben-Gurion wrote after its capture in 1967 that it should be Israel’s second largest city next to Jerusalem. Why should Jewish students not be allowed to visit one of Judaism’s sacred shrines?
Even though I recognize the possibility that my home will be handed over to the Palestinians in the name of peace, I was happy this morning that we are at least staking a claim, we are at least not relinquishing our birth right for a bowl of lentil soup but are instead standing our ground and waiting until we can negotiate with those who truly wish to make peace, with those who make no preconditions.
True peace will only come here when the Arab people acknowledge our right to a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel. May it be sooner rather than later!
(Your turn Larry and crew…)
Ari Silbermann is an Australian oleh living in Karmei Tzur, Gush Etzion.