June 13, 2002
Taking the West Bank Off the Chopping Block
The recent landslide vote of the Israeli Likud Party, utterly rejecting an Arab country west of the Jordan River, reflects the evolving mindset of the largest political party in Israel. There is good reason for that position -- the land of Judea and Samaria, birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, does not belong to the Arab Islamic world. Why? After Oslo's debacle, it should suffice to respond: Because.
But there is more. The Arab world does not even have a name for the land. Think about it -- it is an amazing lacuna. "Palestine" is a name that the now-vanished Romans gave the land of Israel after destroying the last breaths of Jewish freedom in the Holy Land. The Romans renamed the cities and land to excise all memory of the stubborn Jewish patriots who had defied the empire. So, Jerusalem became Aelonia Capitolina. Shechem became Naples. (Naples later became Nablus.) And the country itself was renamed "Palestine" for the previous inhabitants -- the Philistines.
Through the millennia of Jewish Diaspora, long after Arabs invaded and conquered by right of sword, the land of Judea and Samaria never became an Arab territorial entity. By the 20th century, with the rise of political Zionism, Jews still were the "Palestinians." Thus, the predecessor of the Jerusalem Post was called the Palestine Post. The predecessor of the United Jewish Appeal was the United Palestine Appeal. Even the American support group for Menachem Begin's nationalist Irgun underground called itself the American League for a Free Palestine.
The Arabs have names for countries like Syria, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Libya, Kuwait and two Yemens. But through all recorded time they never have had a name for the land of Judea and Samaria. "The West Bank"? Such a name describes Jersey City.
In 1964, when the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded, it was eponymously created to liberate "Palestine" -- namely, the country of Israel -- from Haifa to Tel Aviv to the Negev. The Palestine Liberation Organization had no interest in the territory west of the Jordan River illegally occupied by Jordan. PLO terrorists did not murder Jordanian children, as they did Israelis. They did not hijack Jordanian airplanes. They did not bomb Jordanian buildings. They had no interest in the land without a name. To this day, the logo of each and every Palestinian "activist" group, from Hamas to Islamic Jihad to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine to Fatah, all depict the map of a "Palestine" that is identical to pre-1967 Israel -- no "West Bank."
Yasser Arafat uses names from the Hebrew Bible for the cities he covets in Samaria and Judea. He claims Hebron (Genesis 23). He claims Bethlehem (Genesis 35). He claims Jericho (Joshua 5). His people burned down the Tomb of Joseph (Joshua 24). But he cannot use the Hebrew Bible's names for the land that the Christian Scriptures (Matthew 1), no less than the Tanakh, calls Judea -- because it would sound ridiculous complaining that "the Jews have stolen Judea from the Arabs." Almost as silly as suicide bombers in Hamas calling themselves "Samaritans."
There never -- ever -- has been an Arab Palestine west of the Jordan River. Indeed, as the Samaria-based Jenin refugee camp illustrates, Arabs encamped in the heart of Judea and Samaria still regard themselves as "refugees." Judea and Samaria is not their home, and their United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East refugee camp proclaims it. Those "refugees" want a different "Palestine": Tel Aviv and Haifa.
There are 200,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and another 200,000 Jews living in "Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem." They are not leaving any sooner than will the descendants of the Americanos who squatted on the Californios' land that once belonged to Mexico. This newspaper reposes on such land. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo helped make the squatting in California irreversible. The Battle of the Alamo helped make the squatting in Texas irreversible. Both California and Texas came into being because brave and hearty American settlers created "illegal settlements" on "occupied land." Eventually, those illegal settlements became states in our Union. In the same way, Judea and Samaria constitute the patrimonial heartland of a people that has no less right to be there than did European settlers who planted themselves in Crawford, Tex.
Judea and Samaria belong to Israel. Why? Because.