When Words Matter

Thanks to the Zivotovsky decision, we are guaranteed at least five more years of intractable stalemate, probably more.

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Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer,

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fisch
Rabbi Prof. Dov Fisch
צילום: PR

The New York Times reported four years ago that, for a brief moment, President Obama considered the idea of pardoning Jonathan Pollard.  However, his Vice President reportedly intervened. In the words of Joe Biden, “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’ If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.” 

Over Biden’s dead body.

Sadly, they buried Biden’s son, Beau, the other week.  Beau Biden was a superstar, had been Attorney-General of Delaware and was a strong probable for next Governor of the state.  Beau was an attorney, an officer in the army’s Judge Advocate-General’s corps.  A major in the Delaware army National Guard. He was only 46. 

Jonathan Pollard is still hoping for a miracle - every day.

Words matter.

I know how much so many of my colleagues wanted the Zivotovskys to win their legal battle in America, a valiant and gallant struggle that twice came before the United States Supreme Court for adjudication, seeking to have Jerusalem’s Jewish births noted in American passports as being in Jerusalem, “ISRAEL.”  I know.  The Zivotovskys were represented by my hero, attorney Nat Lewin, whom G-d has blessed to see his daughter, Aliza, work alongside him in great legal battles for the Jewish People. 

I know how much the case meant to so many.  I know how disappointed so many are that the United States Supreme Court ruled, by a 6-3 margin, that Congress cannot compel the President and the State Department to list Jerusalem births on U.S. passports as having happened in Israel.  I know.


More Jews each day will continue populating East Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and Samaria. More babies. More relatives coming to move in with other relatives.
And, yet, I am mabsut (satisfied) and even pleased.

It is all for the good. 

Now the Arabs of Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas and Saed Erekat and Al Qaeda and Hanan Ashrawi will be more resistant and intractable than ever before to compromise on Jerusalem.  If they would not compromise before, they now have the added misconception from the U.S. Supreme Court that they are inching closer to gaining Jerusalem. Such a reading of the Court case and holding is wrong, delusionally wrong, but that will not deter them.  Now, more than before, they will feel that they must not compromise on a centimeter of Jerusalem, further inspired that Jewish births even in West Jerusalem will be designated without a country.

Despite the concessionists and defeatists who populate Israel’s political Left, the distinct majority of Jews will not compromise on Jerusalem either.  Certainly not on West Jerusalem.  And neither will the Arabs, who really think that they are closer today than they were yesterday to taking it. As a result, thanks to the Zivotovsky decision, we are guaranteed at least five more years of intractable stalemate, probably more, regardless of what Europe, the United Nations, Kerry, Hillary, or Obama say or do or vote.  Stalemate is guaranteed.

In the past, the way to break stalemate was to convince the Jews that, since the Arabs will not budge, therefore Israel has to “take risks for peace” and “make demonstrations of good faith.”  And, sooner or later, there always would be a fool leading Israel ready to do so.  Ehud Barak left South Lebanon unilaterally without leaving security in place, depositing it with Hezbollah.  Ariel Sharon left Gush Katif and Gazato Hamas.  Ehud Olmert was prepared to march “Kadimah” — forward and eastward, to hand over land in Judea and Samaria, stopped only by his incompetent prosecution of war and eventually by his march Kadimah to prison. 

In the aftermath of that era, Jews across the political spectrum finally have learned through hard experience that each unilateral “good faith” concession, each “risk for peace,” just brings more terrorists, more bomb factories, more missiles, more terror tunnels closer to Israel. The age of unilateral Israeli land concessions of major regions is over.  No one in Labor is going to give up the entirety of Judea and Samaria, even down to East Jerusalem, without getting something that they think is meaningful.  And, thanks to the United States Supreme Court, our cousins in Ramallah and Shechem are now more delusionally inspired than ever before that they must never compromise on one inch of Jerusalem.  Or on the “Right of Return.”  Or on anything.  Stalemate.

And G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart. 

Stalemate means that more Jews each day will continue populating East Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and Samaria.  More babies.  More relatives coming to move in with other relatives.  More Jews, month by month, even as more than 750,000 Jews have moved in during the past decades of stalemate.  Think of it:  750,000 Jews now in East Jerusalem, the rest of Judea, and Samaria.  Even with Prime Ministers like Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert.  Even with Bibi freezing construction so often.  Even in the face of Jimmy Carter’s Presidency and George H.W. Bush pounding his lectern and James A. Baker cursing the Jews, and Bill Clinton inviting Arafat to the White House more than he did any other foreign figure, and Hillary praising Suha Arafat while the woman was accusing Jews of poisoning Arab wells, and George W. Bush’s “Two State Solution” and the Obama Circus. 

All that — and still 750,000.  With that number alone — and as the number approaches a million during the forthcoming Zivotovsky Stalemate — it becomes all-the-more impossible to uproot a million Jews from East Jerusalem and Yesha, unless using Nazi tactics: blitzkriegs and Panzers and cattle cars.  To remove a million Jews is not Yamit or Gush Katif.  No one is going  to uproot a million Jews.  

And, by the way, where would Israel put them all?  Israel still has not figured out where to house those whom Sharon and the IDF expelled from Gush Katif.  Where will the 750,000 go?  The million, who will be living there as the post-Zivotovsky stalemate intensifies? 

Although we all knew that the three Democrat-liberal Jews on the Court would vote against Jerusalem being designated as Israel on U.S. passports, there still had been hope by some that Justices Kennedy and Thomas might have sided with Justices Roberts, Scalia, and Alito in support of the Zivotovskys.   I know that many of my colleagues are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision. 

And, yet, the Court’s results are perfect.  They are what I hoped for.  Unintentionally, the Zivotovsky lawsuit has done more to help the Jewish people hold Yesha than its proponents even imagined.  Their son may grow up proud, and he may tell his class:  “My name is Zivotovsky, and my parents helped further secure Judea and Samaria in Jewish hands for all time, all because they fought over one word in my passport.”

Because words do matter.

Rabbi Dov Fischer is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine (Steimatzky: 1985). His political commentaries have appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review,  Los Angeles Times, and in other major American publications.  He formerly was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, is an adjunct professor of law at two prominent American law schools, and is Rav of Young Israel of Orange County, California.  He is author of Jews for Nothing (Feldheim: 1983) and is in his fifth year as a member of the National Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings can be found at RabbiDov.com  As with all of Rabbi Prof. Fischer’s writings, this commentary expresses his own views.








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