Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Over the last two weeks the news in the Middle East, particularly Egypt, has left many wondering, “What is in store for Israel?” How does the recent upheaval and overthrow of dictators impact that part of the world and the “land for peace” that was arranged by Sadat and Begin? The Avner Institute would like to present a letter written over 30 years ago to the editorial staff of B’nai Brith Messenger of Los angeles California, where the Rebbe’s grim assessment of the Camp David Accords proved how using the Land of Israel as a bargaining chip with notoriously spiteful and dishonest governments offered nothing in the end, only greater danger for Israel.
This letter is presented from the The Letter and The Spirit series, With special thanks to the Nissan Mindel Archives.
The Rebbe Archive would like to present a photo of the Rebbe arriving at 770, with special thanks to the Garelik family.
Los Angeles California
The Rebbe comments on the writer’s membership to B’nai B’rith and the significance of the organization’s name—“B’rith” implying covenant made uniquely with Abraham, as stated in the Bible, a work also held sacred by Christians and Moslems. The Rebbe describes the importance of the Land of Israel within Jewish history and the distressing attempts by contemporary Jewish leaders to offer land under the illusory promise of peace.
. . . . As you may have heard, when the Camp David negotiations were initiated, I considered it my sacred duty to call attention to the true nature of this disastrous expediency. There was no basis in law, nor in justice, nor in reality, to give in to pressure to sign an accord and treaty, by which one party gives all and the other party takes all; namely, the first giving away tangible and vital resources in terms of territory, fortifications, air fields, oil wells; the dismantling of settlements, etc., all vital to its security, while the other gives in return no more than promises, such as the establishment of communications, exchange of ambassadors, and “normalization” of relations, all of which could be revoked at any moment under one pretext or another. I warned that far from bringing real and lasting peace, this “accord” would only whet our enemies’ appetite for more “grabs,” encouraged by the weakened security position of their adversary. I also warned that it was folly to put one’s trust in the USA’s part of this agreement, for it was obvious that the USA was leaning heavily towards the Arab position.
Since the signing of the Camp David Accords and Treaty, the consequences it has spawned have turned out to be even worse than I feared. Now, some 18 months later, everyone can clearly see that Egypt never intended to keep its promises fully. Right from the moment it took over one segment of Sinai after another, it broke its pledge to keep these zones demilitarized, though for the sake of expediency this matter has been hushed up. Even at this moment Egypt is busily engaged in aggressive military preparations (the construction of tunnels under the Suez is but one glaring example). This should come as no surprise, given the record of broken Egyptian pledges in the period following the Yom Kippur War, and ever since 1948. At the same time, it is demanding, and obtaining, from the U.S., an ever-increasing supply of the most sophisticated weaponry, not to mention what is going to such other “moderate” Arab states as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and even Iraq.
Such is the “even-handed” policy of our U.S. government. Be it also noted that even in regard to its own obligations in connection with the Camp David Accords, particularly the assurance of oil-supplies to compensate for the surrender of the oil wells in Sinai—developed with Jewish ingenuity and resources—it has found a convenient loophole, claiming that the situation is not “critical” as stipulated; which obliges the country to spend millions of dollars in overcharges on the open market, thus putting a critical squeeze on the economy of Eretz Yisrael, which is in dire enough straits as it is.
All the above is surely well known to you and, since you are connected with the news media, you probably know better than I what is going on behind the scenes in Washington and Cairo.
The question is: Now that we have a Camp David agreement signed, sealed and delivered, don’t we have to live with it? Would it be legally and morally right to abrogate it unilaterally?
There are two major answers to this question. First of all, an agreement is binding on either party only as long as the other is carrying out its part. As noted above, and as a matter of record, the Egyptians have not acted in good faith and have broken, and are breaking, many of their pledges under the agreement. (To cite one more glaring example, which should have created a much greater public shock than the tiny ripples it started: By their own admission, once the fact was discovered, the Egyptians had been reporting to other Arab nations, as well as the PLO, on the negotiations conducted with the representatives of Eretz Yisrael under the Camp David Accords.) In view of the systematic violations of the agreement by the Egyptians, the other party need not feel either legally or morally obligated to abide by it.
The second answer, which is equally valid, is that the Camp David Accords were based on a presumption that invalidated them in the first place. Clearly, no government official has the right to sign away the very security of the people and country he represents, nor the security of the next generation and subsequent generations, for no person can possibly have such a mandate, actual or implied. Certainly, in the present case, no such mandate was given—on the contrary, there is an explicit and expressed unanimity that the security of the Land of Israel and its three-and-a-half million Jews is not negotiable. Since the Camp David agreement does indeed jeopardize the security of the people and land of Israel, no signature, or even ratification, can be binding.
Incidentally, it has now been publicly admitted by a high-ranking member of the government of Eretz Yisrael and leading representative in the negotiations, that the Camp David agreement was a mistake, and that the terms, at any rate, should have been reversed, namely, that Egypt should have been made to comply with its obligations before surrendering to it the Sinai and all that went with it.
In summary, despite the political differences, dissension and confusion in certain Jewish circles, both in the Land of Israel and here in the USA, there is no Jew in the world who will tolerate the thought of genocide of the Jewish people, “even” in the very Land of Israel, and we have a right to expect all decent non-Jews to share in this determination.
Hence, Jews everywhere must stop bickering and must demand in one voice: No more concessions! No more giveaways! No more pressures!
And here is where my request comes in. I do not know what you and the editor and publisher of the BBM [B’nai Brith Messenger] think personally, as individuals, about the situation outlined above; nor am I adequately familiar with the position which the BBM has advocated in the past. I do believe, however, that a publication that carries the banner of B’nai B’rith (in the true sense of the term, as noted above), and which is now in its 84th year, has the primary obligation to carry the message of the Divine Covenant to its numerous readers, many of whom are leading personalities in various Jewish communities—the message of the Torah, Torat Chaim, and Torat Emet, namely: that Eretz Yisrael is ours by Divine Covenant, as indeed is recognized by all who believe in the sanctity of the Bible; and the “facts of life” and “truth” are that Jews are not “occupiers” or “aggressors” in their homeland, but that what has passed into our hands is only a restitution of what is rightfully ours by Divine will and grace, not by the “false grace” of the United Nations.
And we cannot afford to be magnanimous and give away any part of our tiny land in response to the threat of force, since the retention of every last inch of it is a matter of vital security for the three-and-a-half million Jews—men, women, and children—as well as for our Jewish people as a whole.
To conclude on the timely note of coming from Tisha B’Av and approaching the month of Elul, the month of special Divine grace and mercy—may G-d indeed reveal His mercy to the world, and to our Jewish people, and bring us the true and complete geula through Mashiach Tzidkeinu, which will also bring about the perfection of the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty. Indeed, every one of us can do much to hasten the realization of this Divine promise through an ongoing movement of teshuva—return to the Jewish essence, which is inseparably intertwined with Torah and mitzvoth and living Yiddishkeit in the everyday life, as our great Teacher and Guide of all times ruled (Rambam, Hil. Teshuva, 7:5): “Jews do teshuva and are redeemed immediately.”
Posted by The Avner Institute / Menachem M Kirschenbaum at 9:16 AM