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Parashat Masei - Thorns in our sides - Rabbi Meir Kahane

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. (Num. 33:55-56)

Regarding Eretz Yisrael [...], non-Jews are divided up into only two groups. The first is non-Jewish nations who were in the Land when Israel arrived there to conquer and occupy it. The second is all the rest of the non-Jewish nations, including idolaters, descendants of Noah, and foreigners and alien residents. The Torah saw a twofold danger in the nations who dwelt in the Land before Israel arrived to conquer it, namely the seven Canaanite nations. On the one hand, like all the nations, the Canaanites constituted a spiritual danger to Israel, who had been commanded to establish a Divine, Torah-oriented state in Eretz Yisrael, isolated and set apart from the abominations of alien cultures. Moreover, the Canaanites posed a unique danger in that they viewed Israel as conquerors who had taken their land. They would hate Israel forever and would forever dream of revenge and seek opportunities for reconquest.

Following is the great commentator Abarbanel (on Ex. 34:11-12): Verses 11-12 inform us that since G-d is driving out the Amorites and the other nations, it is improper for Israel to forge a covenant with them. If a nobleman helps someone by fighting his battles and banishing his enemies, it is morally inappropriate for that person to make peace with them without that nobleman's permission. So, too, with G-d driving out Israel's enemies, it is inappropriate for Israel to forge a covenant with them, for that would profane G-d's glory. This is especially so considering that this friendship and this covenant will not succeed. With Israel having taken their land, there is no doubt that they will constantly seek Israel's downfall. This is why it is said, “[the land] where you are coming.” Since Israel came to the land and took it from its inhabitants, and they feel that is has been stolen from them, how will they make a covenant of friendship with you? Rather the opposite will occur. “They will be a fatal trap for you.” When war strikes you, they will join your enemies and fight you. How exalted and true are Abarbanel's words! This is the real reason for the approach taken by Halachah to the seven nations. G-d understood the mentality of these nations. He knew that they would view Israel as conquerors and thieves and would forever relate to them with resentment and hatred. The Torah explicitly commanded, at least regarding driving out the Land's inhabitants, because if they remain via a peace treaty, they will become “barbs in your eyes... causing you troubles in the Land.” (Num. 33:55). Not in vain are the words “yerushah” - inheritance, and “horashah”- driving out, so similar in Hebrew. G-d knew that without driving out the nations of the Land, the Land would not be an inheritance for them. Rashi explained the same way: (on Num, 33:52-53): “Vehorashtem”: Drive them out. “Vehorashtem et ha'aretz”: If you first “clear out the Land of its inhabitants”, then - “viyeshavtem bah” - you will be able to survive in it. Otherwise, you will be unable to survive in it.

And Or HaChaim writes (Ibid., v. 55): “They shall cause you troubles in the land” (Num. 33:55): Not only will they hold on to the part of the land that you have not taken, but the part which you have taken and settled as well. “They shall cause you trouble” regarding the part that you live in, saying, “Get up and leave it.” It follows that those same laws that applied to the seven nations apply to all the nations that live in Eretz Yisrael in every age. This includes those of our day, who view Eretz Yisrael as their own land and soil, and who view the Jewish People as a nation of conquerors, robbers and thieves. That same danger looms over the Jewish People and its control over Eretz Yisrael in our time as then. After all, what difference is there as far as G-d's warning that “those who remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, causing you troubles in the Land” (Num. 33:55), between the seven nations and between any nation that dwells in the Land, views it as its own, and then Israel come and conquer it from them? Surely, it will feel that same hatred and that same fierce will for revenge as did the seven nations, as explained by Abarbanel (quoted above). This logic appears already in Or HaChaim (on Num. 33:52): “You must drive out”: Although the verse said of the seven nations, “You shall not allow any people to remain alive” (Deut. 20:16), here, the Torah is talking about other nations found there besides the seven. It therefore was careful to say, “all the Land's inhabitants,” meaning, even those not of the seven.

What does that mean for us and for today's situation in Israel?

As Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane points out in his commentary on the Parashah: While it is true that the national religious movement in Israel has put forth great efforts in the fulfilling of the mitzvah «Yishuv Ha'Aretz» (the settling of the Land), it is important to point out that they are familiar with only half of the mitzvah. For the mitzvah of «Yishuv Ha'Aretz» has two sides to it. Well known to us all is the first side — the establishing of settlements. That's the «nice» part of the mitzvah. But it is the other side that has been totally ignored by those who proudly wave the banner of «Yishuv Ha'Aretz». Obviously, we are speaking of the mitzvah of expelling the gentile from the Land. [...]Settling the Land and expelling the gentiles in it are not only two sides of the same mitzvah, but each side is actually dependent on the other. The Torah constantly warns us about the impossibility of fulfilling just half of the mitzvah: «If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, those who remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, causing you troubles in the Land you settle» (Num. 33:55) Another settlement is not the answer to the Arab terror, but rather the Arab terror is the result of our being content with making settlements and not completing the entire mitzvah — which is the expulsion of the Arabs. The solution to the terror is the fulfillment of the entire mitzvah of «Yishuv Ha'Aretz».

[As Rabbi Meir Kahane points out in an early article from 1973, asides from all-out war and forced expulsion, there is an additional, maybe intermediate, way to fulfill the mitzvah of expelling the gentiles – offering them the option of voluntary transfer with financial incentives]: The majority of Arabs will not agree to leave Israel under any circumstances, but sizable numbers — more than we think — will, IF THEY ARE GIVEN SUFFICIENT INCENTIVE. It is up to those who wish to save Israel from a disastrous crisis that will lead to who-knows-what, to furnish that incentive and to ignore the false protests of ignorant and equally false «liberalism». [...] So let us ignore those who are «overly righteous» and speak of the need for a PRIVATE body of wealthy and influential Jews to set up the machinery for an ongoing emigration fund with an initial capitalization of at least 20 million dollars. I emphasize that this is only the initial funding, for the emigration fund will, hopefully, require much more than this. These same people should also begin the task of contacting governments of states that are underpopulated of in need of manpower for their own self-interest as well as for the purpose of defusing the time bomb that is the Arab population of the Land of Israel. Governments should also be discreetly asked how much they would be willing to contribute to this fund, which would do more to solve the Middle East problem than all the United Nations plans yet created. A careful table should be drawn up — based on living conditions in different countries and the size of families — so as to ascertain how much should be allotted to individuals and families who would wish to emigrate. With a fund of money, with visas, with exact charts, the Arabs — and here I stress that this plan would be offered to both the Arabs of pre-1967 Israel and those of the liberated lands — would then be approached and offered a sizable sum (more than enough to begin a fresh life) to emigrate to the county of their choice (within the list of states that has agrees to take them in). Most people prefer not to discuss unpleasant subjects such as Arab emigration or time bombs. The problem of ignoring a bomb arises from the fact that it simply does not lie there. Eventually it explodes.

[The latter proposal is not so far-fetched: In December 12 2008, the left-wing Haaretz newspaper website published an article stating that «A Palestinian poll released on Thursday showed that 40 percent of the residents of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip wish to emigrate, compared to 25 percent in the West Bank.» Check out the link: http://www.haaretz.com/news/palestinian-poll-40-percent-of-gaza-residents-wish-to-emigrate-1.259420]

Compiled by Tzipora Liron-Pinner from “The Jewish Idea” and “Beyond Words, Vol. 1, 'Defusing the Bomb'” of Rabbi Meir Kahane HY”D and from “The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane, HY”D”

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