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October 15, 2010
Call it a providential coincidence
As Iranian President Ahmadinejad made his triumphant tour of Lebanon, vowing to cleanse the Middle East of any Jewish sovereignty, Jews the world over were resuming the annual recitation of early chapters of Genesis at Shabbat services throughout this month of October. Not to put too fine a point on it, these passages give a total lie to Ahmadinejad's anti-Zionist fulminations.
The Iranian president told adoring Hezb'allah crowds: "The entire world should know that the Zionists will disappear. Today the Zionist occupiers have no choice but to surrender to reality and return to their homes and countries of origin."
Well, not so fast, Mr. Ahmadinejad. Jews have been in their homes and country of origin for more than 3,000 years -- long before the birth of Islam -- as proclaimed in this week's portion of Genesis, Chapter 12: "Now the Lord said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and be thou a blessing."
This was the first sacred Covenant for the Promised Land, accorded to Abraham, the first Jew and also the first Zionist.
And in the last biblical reading of October two weeks hence, the first Jewish title to the land will be signed, sealed and delivered, as attested by "Chaye Sarah," the life and death of the first Jewish matriarch, in Genesis Chapter 23:
"And Sarah died in Kiriat-arab -- the same is Hebron -- in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her." Abraham then buys a burial place for Sarah from Ephron the Hittite for 400 shekels of silver after rejecting his offer of an outright gift because Abraham insisted on a duly sealed deed for the land of perpetuity.
"So the field of Ephron, which was Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the border thereof round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went into the gate of his city."
And then in Chapter 25, as Abraham lies dying, he settles his estate: To the children of his concubines, he offers generous parting gifts, but his remaining wealth and all his real estate, "Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac," the second Jewish Patriarch, and only to Isaac.
Thus, Mr. Ahmadinejad, Zionists go back more than 3,000 years to assert their legitimate and unbroken territorial rights and claims in the Promised Land. Abraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpelah is the first real estate transaction mentioned in the Bible. It follows the chapter in which God sealed his covenant with Abraham with its promise of a Jewish commonwealth on Jewish land, and now Abraham seals a temporal covenant for his right -- and the right of Isaac's and Jacob's progeny -- to a specific piece of this land.
And Hebron is not just some far-off mythical place. Its history resonates with many other reminders of lengthy Jewish presences. Hebron was the first Jewish capital before King David set out for Jerusalem. After many centuries of vibrant Jewish life, it was briefly cleansed of Jews in the 1920s by a bloody Arab pogrom that killed scores of Jews and left synagogues in ruin. Since 1967, however, Jews again have returned to pray at Abraham's Cave of Macheplah, the burial site of all three Jewish Patriarchs -- Abraham, Isaace and Jacob -- and three Jewish Matriarchs -- Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.
And by their virtually unbroken presence in the land over the last 3 millennia, Jews have -- generation after generation -- kept alive their religious, historic and legitimate claims to the land.
Today, Mr. Ahamdinejad, Israel's Zionists already are in their rightful home. In fact, Jews have been and remain the most indigenous people in the Holy Land . As the Yiddish saying goes, "Mir senned doo," we are here.
And because of the mendacity of the likes of Ahmadinejad, who falsely portray Israelis as recent colonial interlopers, Prime Minister Netanyahu rightly insists that a two-state peace agreement must recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
As this month's Genesis readings remind us, Mr. Ahmadinejad, we received full deed and title to this land from a much higher authority than you.