Some of you might be interested in a conversation I had with Yossi recently. Yossi and I had been standing on his balcony overlooking a beautiful valley beneath Ma’ale Levona. Here is a picture of Yossi standing on his balcony. Notice the nicely cultivated valley below.
Yossi told me that when Ma’ale Levona was recognized by the government as a viable settlement, a lot of surrounding land was given to the settlers and this included the valley where they could grow their crops. Soon people began to move into the settlement and eveyone was busy trying to get their houses built while still working their day jobs. No one paid much attention to the valley below.
From time to time an Arab family would build a home near the valley, but no one really took notice of it. Then, without warning, Arabs began to cultivate the valley. At that very minute, the valley became Arab property. The Israeli law of possession says that he who is first to plant (crops or a dwelling) owns the land. That is how Ma’ale Levona lost their beautiful valley.
I already knew that Israel has no constitution and have tried to imagine any country, especially the U.S., not having a constitution. The Federal Government and the Supreme Court would then be free to make decisions based on their own, personal beliefs or political leanings since they don’t have to worry about violating any national document. Of course, the Bible is that document for the religious Jew, but these are only a minority in Israel.
So I asked Yossi what it would take for the government of Israel to draw a “line in the sand” and say to the Palestinians, “You have gone too far. What you are doing now is something we can’t allow.”
This question was prompted by something I have been thinking concerning the Temple Mount, Judiasm’s most holy site. I couldn’t understand how the government would allow Arabs to desecrate the Temple Mount by using bulldozers and backhoes to clear out hundreds of truckloads of ancient dirt from underneath the Mount so they could build a mosque. Then to take all this precious dirt and throw it into their landfill.
Whenever I ask Yossi a question like this, he always looks pained. And he usually begins all his answers with the phrase, “You’ve got to understand…”
This time was no different.
“You’ve got to understand,” he began.
“For 2,000 years, Jews have been praying the same prayer which has never been answered. Suddenly the answer comes from out of nowhere. What do they do? Nothing. They don’t respond.
“At the end of the First World War Palestine became open to anyone who wanted to come here. In fact, the newly created country of Jordan had a king who actually begged Jews to come to Palestine. Why? because this whole area was nothing more than desert and empty space. The king of Jordan knew that if he could entice the Jews to return, the economy of the whole area would increase rapidly.
“But the Jews didn’t want to come. They were no longer required to live in the walled-in “Jewish Only” ghettos in every European town. They were now accepted in society. They were the bankers and merchants. Life was good. Why would they want to come and live in such a hard place?
“So God raised up a group of radical, energetic, young, non-religious dreamers who decided they would come to the Land.”
At this point, I interrupted Yossi to ask something about his last point which I have never understood: “Why would God allow a group of athiestic, communists and socialists to settle Israel instead of the religious Jews?”
Yossi responded, “Now that’s a really important question. But, if you think about it, you can guess the answer yourself. If you are prosperous, and well established, and accepted in a society which had rejected you for generations, would you give that up to come here?
“There is a joke that says a man from the government of Israel traveled to America to find out why more Jews weren’t coming to Israel. After several months another man went to America to find out what had happened to the first guy. When the second man found the first one, he asked him,
‘Are you coming back to Israel?’
‘Of course,’ he answered.
‘When my son graduates from college.’
‘How long will that be?’
Oh, he was just born…’
“If it had been left up to religious Jews, we would still be living in Europe, or in Ghana, where our religious leaders wanted to establish the Homeland in the first place.
“It doesn’t bother God to use whatever raw materials are available when He is ready to answer prayers. It just so happens that the only people available were mostly non-religious people.
“Do you know who are the greatest anti-semitic people today? Jews living in Israel who don’t want Israel to be Jewish.
“But, God gets whatever He wants even if others don’t want it. Take, for instance, the Six Day War. At the end of that war, Israel had in her hands all the land that contained virtually every one of its ancient religious sites. What to do with them? The government didn’t want religious sites, but we couldn’t find anyone to give all this land back to!
“Suddenly the Temple Mount was in our hands. So, the day after Jersulam had been taken from the Jordanians, Moshe Dyan, who was the Minister of Defense (and had also been one of Israel’s most famous generals) handed the keys to the Temple Mount back to the Arabs and told them, ‘Here, you take this back and we will not come here without your permission.’ He did the same thing with Judaism’s second most holy site, the Cave of the Patriarchs.”
Yossi sighed, “Now do you understand?”
A Bedouin woman must be totally clothed in black because she lives in the desert. Bedouin women do all the work in the household, including shepherd the sheep. This means she is often alone in the desert. Wearing all black allows her to be seen from far away against the white background of the desert and no one can accidentally stumble upon her. If a Bedouin woman is spoken to by someone who is not of her own family, both she and the one who spoke to her must be put to death because she has been defiled. This is why she wears black–and stifles in the desert heat.
Now a question from Charles Newbold: Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible?