Living Torah

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

When deprived of her children, the Holy Land is destined to become barren and desolate. This is exactly what happened when the People of Israel went into exile.

The Bible tells us: And I shall render the land desolate, and your enemies, dwelling in it, will be astonished … and your land will be barren, and your cities will be a ruin.
(Leviticus 26:32-33)

This prophecy, written over 3,000 years ago, makes it clear that in Biblical times, the Holy Land was productive and highly fertile. However, when deprived of her children, the Land is destined to become barren and desolate. This is exactly what happened when the People of Israel went into exile.

Over a period of nearly two thousand years, various gentile nations made attempts to settle the land, but none succeeded. The Land of Israel reserved its fruits and its blessings for her own children, the People of Israel. In their absence, the Land became a desolate expanse of wilderness and swamps. Pilgrims and travelers who passed through the region noted that the country had become nearly uninhabitable. Its population remained minimal. Let’s take a look at some of these testimonies:

In 1835, French poet Alphonse de Lamartine visited Palestine. He wrote:

“Outside the gates of Jerusalem, we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound. We found the same void, the same silence … as we should have expected before the entombed gates of Pompeii … a complete, eternal silence reigns in the town, on the highways, in the country … the tomb of an entire people.” (Recollections of the East, Vol. I, 1845)

Famous American author Mark Twain visited Palestine in 1867. He described his visit in Innocents Abroad:

“There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We reached Tabor safely. We never saw a human being on the whole route.”

Charles Warren, a British archeologist and researcher who did extensive research in Jerusalem, wrote in the year 1870:

“The Land of Israel is bound up in the chains of its curse which hangs over it. The land has no redeemer, and it is a wasteland with no one to cultivate it or care for it.”

These descriptions testify to the fulfillment of the visions of the prophet Ezekiel thousands of years ago. Only to the Jews, the true sons of the land, will the Land provide its fruits: “And you, O mountains of Israel! Give your branches, and bear your fruits for My people, Israel, for they are drawing near, to come.” (Ezekiel 36:8)

The Palestinian Myth

When the Jews began returning to the Land of Israel and it again became green and verdant, many Arabs from neighboring areas also flocked to what was called Palestine, hoping to benefit from its renewed fertility and prosperity. Arab refugees settled in the country, and presented themselves as long-time, well-established residents of the region whose families had resided there for generations.

Until recent times, no ethnic group was known as the Palestinians. Those who call themselves “Palestinians” are merely a collection of individuals from various countries who share not even a common history. Neither does this group of people possess the usual characteristics that define a nation as such. It is only the contemporary Arab-Israel conflict which serves to unite them. The image of a deprived and persecuted Palestinian people was invented for the purposes of anti-Israel propaganda.