Beis Moshiach Magazine
A high-ranking foreign policy expert explained last week the diplomatic importance of the United States’ recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights: “The fact that the United States gives us absolute backing is a source of tremendous strength in founding a vital principle: the People of Israel can hold on to territory conquered during a defensive war. It is an important development from a historical and diplomatic standpoint. In Washington, it has now been established that not all conquered territory has to be returned. The Golan Heights was conquered in an act of self-defense,” the expert said. “Everyone says that Eretz Yisroel can’t maintain control over conquered territory, and lo and behold, it can!”
As we mentioned, recently, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, signed a proclamation declaring his country’s recognition of Eretz Yisroel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The President stated in his proclamation: “The state of Israel took control of the Golan Heights in 1967 to safeguard its security from external threats. Today, aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hezbollah in southern Syria, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel. Any possible future peace agreement in the region must account for Israel’s need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats. Based on these unique circumstances, it is, therefore, appropriate to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
The official signature came after an announcement the previous week, declaring that the time was right for American recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
“After fifty-two years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the state of Israel and regional stability!” the president tweeted.
At the start of a festive event that took place on Monday of last week in Washington, a meeting was held between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Trump. After their discussion, the two came out to the White House press corps, and the president signed the proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Since the proclamation, the United States of America altered the terminology in its official documents. Instead of writing that the Golan Heights are “under Israeli occupation,” as previous administrations had customarily done, they are now classified as an area “under Israeli authority.”
What is the practical meaning to Trump’s proclamation?
With this question, we turned to Dr. Mordechai (“Motti”) Kedar. Dr. Kedar is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs, a lecturer in the Arabic language department and a research fellow at the Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, and the chairman of the “Professors for a Strong Israel” academic organization. Among his other qualifications, he has specialized in a study of the regime of Syrian dictator Hafez el-Assad.
Dr. Kedar notes that there isn’t a significant legal value to Trump’s proclamation, primarily because the Golan Heights are still considered under Syrian sovereignty by international agreement. Thus, as long as there is no treaty between Syria and Israel on transferring the Golan Heights to Israeli control, the United Nations Security Council will not sanction its recognition as part of Eretz Yisrael. According to international law, this is the only way to recognize the annexation of sovereign territory, in force since the occupation and partition of Nazi Germany by the victorious Allied Powers.
Nevertheless, he says, this presidential proclamation does have some practical meaning on two fronts: First, officials with the United States government who come to Eretz Yisroel are now permitted to visit the Golan Heights. According to American law, American government officials are forbidden to enter occupied territories. However, with the U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, they can visit this area, American companies are now permitted to invest in the Golan Heights, and non-profit organizations may make tax-exempt contributions there as well. All this was forbidden for more than half a century. However, we must remember that American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in no way obligates France or any other world nation.
Secondly, such diplomatic recognition by the United States can strengthen Israeli claims to receive the Golan Heights if and when the governments of Israel and Syria reach the stage of actual negotiations.
On the other hand, it raises the issue of the Golan Heights to the international stage. Until now, the world has forgotten about it or at least has lost interest in the matter. Even the European Union, which in principle favors giving away the Golan Heights, awards annual prizes to the Golan wineries. The world has failed to realize that we’re talking about land conquered during a military conflict. Now, however, we may face a situation in which the Arab world, mainly Syria, will use this new status as leverage to make an international impact. Then, the world-at-large will take the bait, primarily the Europeans.
Dr. Kedar, if you were Netanyahu’s advisor, would you suggest to him that he pass up on this gift?
“I don’t know. In the Middle East if they give it to you, take it…”
Time will tell how things develop. However, in the middle east, where the Arab culture prevails, it’s important to remember a popular Arab idiom that says “the patient one wins.”
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO EXIST
WITHOUT THE GOLAN?
If there is one thing we should have learned over our long history, it is that what matters most is what we do, not what the world thinks about it.
On Erev Yud-Tes Kislev 5742 (1982), about fifteen years after the Six Day War, the Knesset passed legislation extending Israeli law to the Golan Heights. The government of Israel thereby informed the world that it was annexing this territory vital to the country’s national security, albeit unilaterally without the recognition of the international community.
The annexation, not surprisingly, was condemned by all our “friends” around the world. Even in Israel, some voices questioned how wise this act was. Most surprisingly, a voice exhibiting shameful dependency on the nations of the world came from a rabbinic figure:
“We lived for two thousand years without the Golan Heights, and we can live that way for another two thousand years,” this figure said.
Several weeks later, in Teves 5742, the Rebbe discussed the matter of the Golan Heights at great length. The Rebbe took particular interest in responding to the Chilul Hashem caused by these shameful remarks made at an Agudas Yisrael conference in Yerushalayim.
During a sicha on 24 Teves 5742, the Rebbe spoke with great anguish as his cries made the hearts of those listening tremble. We bring here a few key excerpts from that sicha:
Even the Gentiles know that Eretz Yisroel belongs to the Jewish People. Even during the time of the Exile, “when we were exiled from our land because of our sins” the Jewish People are called “the children of G-d,” …Therefore, even in the time of the Exile, Eretz Yisroel belongs in the exclusive possession of the People of Israel, and ch”v that one should say that a Jew would even suggest surrendering a single portion of the Land of Israel!
…[And here] a Jew stands up before more than ten Jews and declares publicly and openly that we must return portions of Eretz Yisroel to the Gentiles r”l: “Just as the Jewish people have existed for two thousand years without the Golan Heights, they can exist for another two thousand years without the Golan Heights!”
Such a thing never happened among the Jewish people! — That a Jew – or even a non-Jew – should say that the Jewish People can stay for another two thousand years in exile, G‑d forbid! …The Torah states that the world will exist for only six thousand years – and he adds more than another one and a half thousand years. The talk above against the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily in our days, mamash – will not delay his arrival … because “there are many thoughts in a man’s heart, but G-d’s plan is that which shall stand!”
Even when people speak in such a manner before more than ten Jews – it has no value whatsoever because such talk is contrary to the Torah. There is a general principle that “there is no shliach for a transgression,” and about our discussion, these words of that Jew before ten other Jews represent his personal opinion alone!
…Aside from the said problems, he created an additional problem: his statement was recorded, and it also reached the Gentiles, and his words were disseminated among enemies of the Jewish People r”l! Moreover, after being translated into English, it was quoted before the United Nations!
The Rebbe added that anyone who opposes the annexation of the Golan Heights is as if he opposes Jewish sovereignty over the Old City of Yerushalayim:
Those who claim that it’s forbidden to antagonize the Gentiles, it has been stated on numerous occasions that this principle applies only regarding territories not yet under Jewish control, as opposed to territory already given to the Jewish People by G-d.
According to their approach – that this principle also applies to territories already in Jewish hands – first and foremost, this principle applies to the Old City of Yerushalayim, together with the Western Wall and all the shuls and batei medrash there. Because the same nations of the world who demand the return of the Golan Heights, also demand with greater strength and greater fortitude (G-d forbid) the return of the Old City of Yerushalayim!”
WHEN YOU STAND FIRM – YOU CAN CHANGE THE REALITY
A few weeks later, during a sicha on Yud Shvat 5742, the Rebbe again discussed the issue of the territorial integrity of Eretz Yisroel:
There are portions of Eretz Yisroel that were given to the Jewish People through revealed miracles –Yehuda and Shomron, the Golan Heights, [etc.]. All those territories are now now under Jewish sovereignty.
When we speak about the territories in Jewish hands, there is a clear halachic ruling in Torah … In Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Shabbos (329:6). It states that when it is a matter pertaining to saving Jewish lives (even when there is the slightest doubt, and all the more so in our case – where its an absolute certainty), “we go out against them with weapons and desecrate the Shabbos.” Quite simply, it is forbidden to give them even one inch of the territories in Israeli hands, as the matter poses a danger to Jewish lives – “lest they capture the city and from there it will be easier for them to conquer the land.”
When we are talking about territories that G-d gave to the Jewish People in a manner of revealed miracles, it is surely forbidden according to the Torah to make light of a gift from G-d. Especially when there is a clear ruling in Torah on how we must conduct ourselves in this matter since it pertains to saving Jewish lives.
Since this is a psak din in Torah, and the Torah has ownership over the world’s reality, as explained in Talmud Yerushalmi … the Torah has the power to change the reality of the world. Certainly, the Torah has the power to fulfill the existing reality — concerning those territories already under Jewish sovereignty, where Israeli control prevails – when they go with the strength of Torah and Yiddishkeit.”
Standing strong on what is important to Jews and Judaism has proven to work. It took over 30 years, but recognition came from the leader of the free world, and the rest will soon follow with Hashem’s help. You don’t lose from doing the right thing.
All we’re left to wonder is how many lives of Jews and l’havdil Arabs could have been saved if the Israeli government had the same Jewish pride concerning Yehuda, the Shomron, and Azah, as they had with the Golan.
It’s not too late. Maybe this time the international recognition will come sooner. After all, the first time is always the hardest…
Elections around the corner
With the general elections to the Knesset right around the corner, we, Chabad Chassidim, walk in the great light of the leader of our generation, the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. They belong neither to the extremist right-wing nor the moderate right-of-center nor to any political party at all. Their doctrine is the Shulchan Aruch, Sec. 329 – and the Rebbe’s instructions. As the Rebbe stated to Mr. Yitzchak Nachshoni, former editor of the Yom HaShishi newspaper: “I don’t have anything to do with any party, rather with the Shulchan Aruch written five hundred years ago.”
The only way for a political party to earn the support of Chabad Chassidim in the upcoming elections is to declare its complete and unequivocal support of the Shulchan Aruch, in all areas.
What must we do in these final days before the election? It is incumbent upon all of us to call upon the leaders of the various parties to express their opinion — clearly and unequivocally — on a plan of action based on the Rebbe’s teachings, with a promise that they will not join any coalition unwilling to fight terrorists with uncompromising force and bring security to the residents of Eretz Yisroel. They must categorically declare that Jewish blood is not cheap, and any threat to the People of Israel in the Land of Israel will bring a determined response.
In this manner, we will at least know that the votes of hundreds of thousands of citizens faithful to Torah and Eretz Yisrael will not again become a tool in the hands of craven politicians for carrying out policies of weakness and restraint.
We still have time now to make certain and publicize the Rebbe’s words as Eretz Yisroel finds itself in a situation it has never faced before.
Party-leaders must sign a written commitment that they will not participate in any government that does not announce in advance that it will not conduct the weak policy of restraint against the terrorists. We have seen what happened in the past when those parties ran to join the governing coalition and served with the ministerial committee on national security affairs, thereby making them responsible for the bloodshed endured by the citizens of Eretz Yisroel in general, and the residents of the south in particular.
Bringing Jewish pride to the halls of Israel’s government and insisting on doing what is right and safe is the best policy. It was tested time and again — and even the United States agrees.