The historic significance of the rise of settlements since the beginning of Zionism has been not just to restore the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael, but chiefly to reinstate the Hebrew identify of Eretz Yisrael.
The pioneers who transformed Um Juni to Degania, the first kibbutz in the Holy Land (1910), restored its Hebrew identity. With that act, a parcel of our homeland was conquered. The work brigade that transformed “Ein Jalud” to Ein Harod (1921) restored the Biblical identity from Gidon’s days to the valley. The same goes for the transformation of the hills of “Abu Shusha” to Mishmar HaEmek, and the transformation of “Ja’uni” to “Gai-Oni” (Valley of My Strength), and then to Rosh Pina. Every settlement restored to every abandoned spot in the Land its Biblical, Hebrew identity.
The establishment of Elon Moreh renewed the Israeli identity of Elon Moreh.
The recent fight in Hebron over Jewish settlement in part of Hebron’s Jewish Quarter where Arab squatters had set up a marketplace was not just over the rights of two families. The pioneers of Jewish Hebron understand that this battle is over Hebron’s identity. If Hebron is populated by Jews, Hebron’s identity will be Jewish, and if there are only Arabs in Hebron, then even Hebron’s name will be abandoned in favor of “Al Halil,” the Arabic name. The Left wants an Arabic identity for Hebron. Their hatred for settlement is hatred for the idea of linking Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish people. That is the whole story.
Yet not just Hebron is involved. The Left also does not want any of Judea and Samaria to have a Jewish identity. Their friends in the media continue to label the heart of Eretz Yisrael by foreign names given to it by our people’s enemies, such as “Palestine,” the “West Bank,” the “territories,” and the “occupation.” They’ll call the land of the Bible by every possible name, just not the only name that restores a Jewish identity to our land – Judea and Samaria. The meaning of the name “Judea” is that this is the land of the Jews, and Eretz Yisrael means that this is the land of Yisrael – just as Eire-land is the land of the Eires, Eng-land is the land of the English, and Fin-land is the land of the Finns. They cannot be occupiers of a land named after them. A land’s identity is like the identity of the people inhabiting it. The people of Israel cannot be considered occupiers of the Land of Israel.
Had there been no renewed settlement in Shiloh, Beit El and Elon Moreh, these would have remained abstract Biblical names, in the realm of legend. Settlement created the Land’s identity anew. Settlement restored to these areas their true names, and removed from the Arabic conqueror the false Arabic names. Shiloh recreated Biblical Shiloh. If Judea and Samaria are ever abandoned, they won’t just be abandoned physically but in terms of their identity.
Once more, on all the world’s maps, Eretz Yisrael will no longer be called Eretz Yisrael or Israel, but something else. Surely, until 1967, Judea and Samaria were called “the West Bank of the Kingdom of Jordan.” Israel’s military victory over Jordan restored to them their true Biblical name. If Israel abandons them, the enemy will not call them by their Hebrew name, but by their counterfeit name, Palestine, a name artificially created by the Emperor Hadrian when he subdued the Bar Kochba revolt in his longing to destroy the Jewish identify of Judea.
Hadrian’s curse failed. The name Palestine was abandoned entirely over the years. Already the Crusaders called the land “the Kingdom of Jerusalem.” The Arabic conquest didn’t call the Land by any name whatsoever. It was just Southern Syria. For 1300 years the land lacked any identity, and lacked any people that identified with the Land – except for our people. The anti-Semitic British, halting aliyah and settlement by way of their White Paper, understood what the anti-Semites in our midst understand: settlement restores Jewish identity to the Land.
Every outpost carrying a Hebrew name transforms another section of the Land to Hebrew. The battle is not one of tanks or jets. The battle today is the most decisive battle ever. It is a battle over the identity of the Land. Will the Land carry a counterfeit Arabic or pagan identity, a forged name from the Emperor Hadrian? Or will it have an Israelite, Biblical identity – the true identity of the Land.
Only settlement will restore to the Land its Israeli identity. The Arabs demand that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hand over to them the Land, empty of Jews. As long as there are Jews in Judea, it will be impossible to call it by its counterfeit propaganda name – Palestine. The only thing stopping this government from handing over Eretz Yisrael to the enemy is their inability to destroy Jewish settlement, which meanwhile is stopping the wheels of destruction in Judea. The construction of hundreds of new outposts is the only guarantee that the identity of Eretz Yisrael will be preserved.
The desire to destroy settlements is the desire to destroy the identity of Eretz Yisrael – the land of the people of Israel.