This month, 45 years ago, the Jewish people’s wildest dreams came true. Jews valiantly, independently and courageously defended themselves from an all too familiar threat of annihilation. They conquered, in a war of self-defense, the Sinai Peninsula; the Biblical heartland, Judea and Samaria; and, of course, the Temple Mount, the focal point of Jewish longing for centuries in the capital of Jerusalem, the city of peace.
But not long after, Israeli leaders and citizens began to doubt their moral and legal right to this incredible victory. Perhaps the dream was so great and awe-inspiring, that this formerly beaten-up, victimized people weren’t prepared for its realization, which would place them in a new position of independence, power, self-reliance and strength. Jews, after all, had never sought to realize this dream through the belligerency employed by their enemies.
Fortunately, there were also brave Jews who proudly seized the victory and began to rebuild the great, lost land—the “Atlantis” of ancient Israel—under international law and the sanction of successive Israeli governments (despite allegations to the contrary). Non-dreamers maligned these Zionist pioneers as messianic extremists as they lovingly built beautiful communities in a land Israelis liberated from the iron rule of Jordan, and also Egypt, bringing to the region commerce, education, sophisticated infrastructure, and civil society. Unlike their oppressors, Jews didn’t drive the “other”—Arabs—out, but shared their blessings.
Alas, the Jewish dream contradicted the pan-Arab, religiously and culturally inspired “dream” of a Middle East free of Jewish sovereignty. Despising the realization of Greater Israel, Arabs recast the formerly Jordanian and Egyptian Arabs into dispossessed “Palestinians” living under Israeli “Occupation.” It was an insidious ploy to kill the Jewish dream and bring Israel back to the suicidal pre-1967 borders. Dreams are never morally valid if, at their heart, they seek destruction and murder of another people. One only needs to read Palestinian textbooks to understand the “dream of Palestine” is an Arab state from the Jordan River to the sea.
No sooner did many Israelis backtrack from the 1967 victory, buying into the lie that the great Jewish dream was founded upon the backs of another “people’s” national aspirations. Afraid the Jewish state would crumble if it absorbed a size-able Arab population, it shied away from continuing to install civil rule over a people accustomed to despots. Instead of annexing the territory and creating a strong, democratic, inspiring super-power in the Middle East, Israeli leaders successively created the conditions to reverse its victory, thereby desecrating the sacrifice of the thousand Israelis who died fighting for Jerusalem. Essentially, the Two-State “Solution,” as it came to be called, only propped up a mini-terrorist entity and wrought more terror, fear, bloodshed as well as the de-legitimization of Jewish national aspirations.
Those who accuse the brave Jews of Judea and Samaria, and those expelled from Gaza, of being messianists are not entirely incorrect, but it is a high compliment when viewed through a rational prism. Isaiah’s messianic vision is one of true world peace, not a peace that involves the unfair trade of land for the cessation of violence; a tenuous cease-fire, at best; or a Jewish ghetto living alongside an Arab one. True peace would demand and ensure that Arabs reform their generations-long, religiously inspired hatred of Jews and instead accept, whether happily or not, proud Jewish dreamers living in their midst.
Should Israel hold onto the Temple Mount and its Biblical heartland, it would not only accept its own victory but give hope to dreamers worldwide—not to “dreamers” of negative values—hatred, murder, and dictatorship—but dreamers of the great virtues underlying the Hebrew bible: the sanctity of life, a government based on moral absolutes, and true freedom. Embracing the Jewish dream and relinquishing the fantasy of the Two-State “solution” would establish Jerusalem as the city of peace where belligerent nations turn their swords into plowshares.
Orit Arfa is the Executive Director of Zionist Organization of America, Western Region. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.