Have you heard? Israel 'occupies' (illegally controls) land that belongs to someone else. That’s what BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) says. It’s what Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) says.
It’s what the Palestinian Authority, the UN, the EU and the US say.
The entire world stands together: only evil people are ‘occupiers’. Israel is an occupier. Israel is evil.
Surely you know: Israel’s dwelling on Judea-Samaria is the greatest obstacle to peace. Surely you understand: Israel’s ‘occupation’ is the embodiment of inhumanity against man.
This is a curious development for Mankind. It’s curious because, for centuries, Israel—that is, the Jewish nation—was credited with bringing to Mankind religious values infused with humanity, kindness, justice and respect.
The West’s legal structure--and its basic definition of justice—derive from the Jewish religion. So does the belief in a singular G-d. The ideas of a day of rest, a national census, asylum and a national policy of crop rotation all derive from Judaism (Dr. Yvette Alt Miller, “10 Ideas Judaism Gave the World”, aish, August 22, 2016). The Jewish people, using their Torah, offered the world’s first compulsory public education (ibid). Judaism gave the world its basic animal rights (ibid).
The Jewish Torah corpus—Tanach and Talmud—represents the oldest, longest-lasting, most read and most followed books of life and law ever written. More people have read and studied the Old Testament (the basic Jewish Tanach) than any other book ever written.
You can’t say that about the Communist Manifesto, the political platform of the US Democratic Party or Mein Kampf—or any other anti-G-d/anti-Israel document.
On Shabbat, August 27, 2016, Jews around the world read the Parsha (weekly Torah reading) called, Eikev (D’varim 7:12-11:25). That Parsha tells us that HaShem, the G-d of Israel, tests us (D’varim 8:2). He tests so as to reveal for all what’s in our hearts (ibid).
The accusation that Israel is an evil occupier is one such test. How we respond to that accusation reveals to all what’s in our hearts. This accusation is a test because HaShem, the G-d of Israel, repeatedly tells the Jewish people in His Torah to occupy the very land so many vilify Israel for 'occupying'.
Think about that. Modern Israel, including Judea-Samaria (what some call, the West Bank), sits between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The West calls Judea-Samaria and parts of the Golan ‘occupied’; the ‘Palestinians’, however, call all land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean ‘occupied’. They want that land.
But all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan represents the exact east-west borders that HaShem identified in the Torah for the Jewish people to possess-and-occupy (B’midbar, 34:1-9). This is the land HaShem Promised in the Torah to the Jewish people.
The existence of modern Israel is the fulfilment of that G-dly Promise. Our current borders are, essentially, G-d’s borders.
After identifying these borders in the Torah, HaShem proceeded, through the entire Book of D’varim, to tell the Jewish nation to occupy…occupy…occupy, etc that land (‘occupy’ appears repeatedly in the text of D’varim: Rabbi Yaakov Culi, et al, The Book of D’varim, Me-Am Loez; English translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan).
Most translators translate the Hebrew word used in the Torah, Y’rushah as ‘to possess’ the land. But Me’am Lo’ez, translated into English by a man famous for his Biblical translation (Rabbi Kaplan), translates that same word as, ‘occupy’ (to live in).
When you look in the Talmud tractate, Kiddushin, 37a (ArtScroll translation), you see why ‘occupy’ (to live in) is a more appropriate translation than ‘possess’. Kiddushin (ibid) refers to the Torah’s call ‘to dwell’ in the land of Israel. Kiddushin tells us that, in order to ‘dwell’ in the Holy Land, the Jewish nation must first possess the land and then create ‘settlement’ there (ibid).
‘Possess’ is just the beginning of a process. ‘Occupy' (live in) is the whole point of going into the land. One ‘occupies’ by dwelling there; one ‘dwells’ by ‘settling’; one settles by building (ibid).
The Torah (our Written law) and the Talmud (our Oral law) tell us to possess, occupy and settle-through-building the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. This is exactly what the Jewish people do today.
Anti-Israel gentiles and Arabs (and some non-believing Jews) reject this entire process. They tell you that possessing, occupying, settling and building this land are all illegal.
This is the test HaShem puts before you. Through our Torah and Talmud, G-d tells you to occupy (live in), settle and build.
Gentiles and Arabs reject G-d. They tell you to get the hell out.
Your test is simple: whom do you believe—G-d, or those who reject G-d?
Just as last week’s Torah reading suggested (above), how you respond to this question reveals to all what’s in your heart. Do you choose to follow G-d or those who reject G-d?
The closer we get to Redemption, the clearer become the tests we face. This test couldn’t be any clearer.
What’s your choice?