Land is holy
Land is holy

In those days people came to Greenwich Village from all over to express their inner hipness. Probably, it’s the same today, but not as it was back then.

Back then the place was hopping from an exuberance of creativity. Everybody was a poet. Everybody came with a guitar, a song, and a protest.

I got there by accident and found work as a doorman at the Bitter End, hence, eventually, the novel “The Days of the Bitter End” and the works to follow.

That was then, when we were young, and sometime later I returned for a day to remember what it was like at that same spot. Memories. A sentimental journey.

“We need to talk,” someone said, a man who’d been in line for a Bob Dylan performance.

“We do?” I said.

“You’re Jewish,” he said, “and the writer.”

“What makes you say?”

“Ha. The map of Israel is written all over your face.”

For him, it was the map of Egypt, and when we had coffee later on, I believed him…hippy and all…that he had once been a general in the Egyptian army. He showed me the papers. Okay, they were in Arabic, but looked legit enough, and besides, this was where people came to shed their previous lives to start all over again…ex generals...even ex-prime ministers…and once in a while a deposed or abdicated king and queen.

He got straight to the point. “Don’t you people know your own Bible and the promises that were made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?”


“Nobody gives away land. Never the land of your Fathers.”

Israel had given away Sinai.

“For the sake of peace?” I suggested, not because I liked the idea, even then, but only because that’s what people were saying, and are still saying.

“For the sake of nothing,” said my new friend, with some heat. “No self-respecting country gives away land.” 

He was plainly vexed that Israel had done what it did. In his view, something defeatist, sinful and shameful.

“So Egypt,” I challenged, “would never do such a thing?”

He thought I was crazy.

“Never. Land is holy.”

Strange, I thought then, and still today, that nothing like that had I ever heard from Jewish generals, colonels, hipsters, or anybody else.

In fact, Israeli generals are generally the first to offer “painful concessions.” Sharon did it for Gaza, and Gantz calls it a perfect model for what’s to come if he gets in.

Some people just can’t wait to parcel off the land.

Land is holy. I had to hear that, even back then, from an Egyptian, an Egyptian general. Our guys?

Maybe I missed it…or maybe I hadn’t heard it often enough to make it stick. 

What got me remembering? Well, I always remember that conversation at the Bitter End, after Dylan finished his number, and the crowds left, and he went uptown to greater glory. 

“For the sake of nothing,” said my new friend, with some heat. “No self-respecting country gives away land.” 
Second, just today I was sent a column written by what we call “a staunch supporter of Israel,” and a columnist I have always admired, since we think alike.

Apparently not.

In it, she spells it out well, how the Deal of the Century is wrong for Israel. So far, she’s got me. 

But then she writes that the Palestinian Arabs should not be given a “viable” state “until certain conditions are met.”

“Viable” noch. Loose talk like that has become demoralizing. 

Under my view – no conditions, ever. No Palestinian state, period. (Am I alone in this? Feels like it sometimes.) Gaza is “viable” enough.

The very thought of a Palestinian state, or any state, within Israel, any part of it, ought to be sacrilegious wherever there beats a Jewish heart.

Land is holy, particularly the land of your Fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

An Egyptian told you that.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

He wrote the worldwide book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal,” and the authoritative newsroom epic, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” followed by his coming-of-age classics, “The Girls of Cincinnati,” and, the Holocaust-to-Montreal memoir, “Escape from Mount Moriah,” for which contemporaries have hailed him “The last Hemingway, a writer without peer, and the conscience of us all.” Website: