By: A.J. Edelheit  | 

An Open Letter to Mr. Carter (Vol. 44, Issue 10)

Dear Mr. President,

With all due respect to the high office of the Presidency, you, Sir, at best, pose a grave question to me. As a Deacon of your Church and as a Bible believing man, how can you, in good conscience, consider the Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria illegal? If you do honestly believe in the Bible, where does it say that what you call the “West Bank,” Judea and Samaria, belongs or was given to the Arabs? If you, Sir, would so kindly turn to Genesis XVII:8, you would read: “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the Land of thy sojournings, all, the Land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.” Furthermore in Genesis XXI:10, the genealogy of those who would possess Canaan is clearly established: “For in Isaac shall seed be called to thee.” No matter how you look at it and try to interpret it, these passages in the Bible specifically state that this area was promised by the Lord to Abraham as an inheritance to his offspring Isaac and his children. For sure, Ishmael too was promised a great inheritance to his offspring Isaac and his children. For sure, Ishmael too was promised a great inheritance. And so it is! His offspring occupy twenty-one independent states in Asia and Africa, totaling almost one-fifth of the Earth’s land mass.

Now, to consider the settlements from another point of view: When you say that these settlements are illegal, you, Sir, are implying that an Israeli, if he wishes to buy land and settle outside present-day political Israel, but within the general confinement of what used to be British Mandated Palestine, cannot do so. By this act, aren’t you, Sir, in fact creating a ghetto for the Israeli citizen and aren’t you infringing on his civil rights? Does not the Helsinki Agreement of which the U.S. is a signatory guarantee freedom of settlement to the individual?

Speaking of civil rights, why is it that no U.S. Government and for that matter no other world government, or members of the so-called UN, ever officially protested the fact that a Jew was banned from visiting the Holy Places sacred to Judaism from 1948 until the Six-Day War of 1967, when these places were liberated by a courageous Israeli Army? Mr. President, it was due to the sensitivity and respect for the other religions and their Holy Places that the Government of Israel took special care at a tremendous cost to its most precious possession, its sons, not to destroy places sacred to the Moslems and Christians. The opposite holds true of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. When they occupied this area for nineteen years, without any hint of shame or remorse, its Legions systematically destroyed or polluted sites and buildings sacred to Judaism. Not only did they abuse centuries-old synagogues and Jewish places of historic significance, but also Jewish cemeteries. Grave-sites, hundreds of years old, were destroyed, the head-stones and other ornaments being used by the Jordanians as material for roads, army installations and latrines.

Then too, for nineteen years nobody ever protested Jordan's illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Egypt’s occupation of the Gaza-Strip — there was no talk of self-determination for the “Palestinians.” It is no secret that the Arab population in these territories were not treated too kindly by the occupying forces. The only thing they had in common was their hatred of the Israeli and Jew. Why, Mr. President, during these nineteen years was there no call for a Palestinian State? If all the PLO wants is sovereignty for the Palestinians in these areas, why during these nineteen years did the Feda’iyin carry out their terrorist and murder raids in Israel? Why didn’t they strive to oust the forces of Jordan and Egypt who illegally, by force of arms, occupied these territories ?

Under Israeli rule the conditions in which these people live have greatly improved, especially in terms of health, education, housing and income. Personal freedoms have also been widened. As a democracy, Israel does not place any barrier in the way of those who wish to leave if they are unhappy with the Israeli administration. Moreover, it should be noted that the Palestinian Arabs do have a state of their own. In 1920 His Majesty’s Government, on its own initiative and in total contravention of the League of Nations Mandate, partitioned the Jewish National Homeland into two parts. The part that was to become the Palestinian Arab Homeland became Known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Therefore, if any solution is to be found for the “Palestinian” problem it must be found in Jordan, not in Israel. There can only be one people: Either Jordanians or Palestinians. If they wish to change the name of their state to Palestine, and to ingather their exiles — far be it from Israel to stop them.

In the same span of time that these poor refugees were being used as pawns in a plot to destroy Israel, being treated like dogs in squalor-filled refugee camps, Israel was gathering its people from the four corners of the globe. Isn’t it odd that tiny Israel could, in three years, with great sacrifice, absorb over a million and a half poor, downtrodden Jewish refugees, while the Arabs, rich in oil and land, could not do the same for their brethren? Could the Arabs not have housed these people in homes that they confiscated from the Jews when these Jews were forced to flee? Does not the immigration of half a million Arabs to Arab countries, and the emigration of one million Jews from the same countries constitute a trade of population, as, for instance, was done in Eastern Europe after World War 1? You, Mr. President, have castigated Prime Minister Begin for being intransigent, for not answering Mr. Sadat’s peace gesture. You, Sir, must remember that it was not Israel who declared war on Egypt and the other Arab States, but rather exactly the opposite. Was it not Egyptian warplanes which bombed Tel Aviv fifteen minutes after Israel’s Declaration of Independence? You, Sir, have stated publicly that Saudi Arabia never actively participated in any war against Israel. Could it be possible that you, Sir, are being misled, as President Johnson was during the Viet-Nam War, by your advisers?

I would like, if I may, to point out some facts: In 1967 a Saudi infantry brigade saw active service against Israel on the Jordanian front. In 1973 the Saudis sent a mechanized infantry brigade to the Syrian front which actively participated both in the Yom Kippur War and in the War of Attrition that followed. You wish to sell the Saudis F-15’s and you state that there are guarantees that these aircraft will neither be used against Israel nor transferred to any confrontation state for use against Israel. Yet, what guarantee do you have? Did not the Saudis immediately transfer 88 Mirage V fighters, freshly bought from France, to Egypt in 1978? Did not the U.S. Armed Forces Journal report in November of 1977 that the Saudis planned to transfer to Egypt 40 Mirage F-1’s as soon as these are received? If the Saudis truly need these aircraft for self-defense, then why are they transferring them to Egypt?

I do praise you, Mr. President, for your strong initiative on behalf of peace in this troubled area. But I do hope, Sir, that you will make a thorough self-examination and also that your actions will not be dictated by the pressures of oil, power and big business, but rather by that which is right and just. The State of Israel has a right to be viable and live in peace and security. Like the great United States of America, its sons and daughters are refugees from persecution, hatred and bigotry. As in our great country, in Israel, too, they are building a democratic society unique for that part of the world. Had there been a State of Israel at the outbreak of World War II, who knows, maybe the great tragedy that befell the Jewish People, the Holocaust, could have been avoided.

Thank you.