"Theology and Israel"

A Beth El congregant asked me a question:

Why did God side with the Jewish people in invading Judea/Samaria, forcing the residents to leave, and “giving” (sic!) the land to the Jewish people?

I’m not one to believe that God works that way. Even before Rabbi Harold Kushner published When Bad Things Happen to Good People many years ago, I couldn’t reconcile God’s “finger” being in every event whether it was for the sake of Jews or otherwise, whether for good or bad. My father was once asked, “How can you believe in God and be so involved in your synagogue after your interment in Dachau, and the murder of your mother and sisters in Auschwitz?” My father’s consistent response was, “God had nothing to do with it!”

Regarding our congregant’s question there is another issue.

We didn’t “invade” Judea and Samaria during the June 1967 Six-Day War. Israel was invaded by seven Arab nations and had to defend herself. Just look at a map, current or pre-1967, and you’ll see the predicament of being locked in with enemies around you, the only open border being the Mediterranean Sea on the west. She was surrounded by fighting forces in so great a number that no one imagined Israel would last a week, let alone defeat her enemies in a week. Yes, the victory of Israel in 1967 was a miracle, but here, too, I quote my father who, to some, was his own miracle-maker as an American G.I. “You have to do what you have to do, and if God wants to help you do it, so be it.” She captured land that extended her borders, adding significant territory as a buffer. Across the years Israel gave back some of these territories for the sake of peace, and was on the brink of giving more had not the Palestinians rejected the offers; all or nothing wasn’t good enough for the Palestinians.

Another point…

The situation now is political with the government siding with the far right secular and Orthodox communities in order to form a coalition. A portion of that demographic does see God working to restore the biblical boundaries of ancient “Greater Israel,” as it is called.Those boundaries extend well beyond the post-1967 map, and for all intents and purposes no government was interested in proclaiming “Greater Israel” as the nation’s ultimate outline.

Let me state, I abhor the lack of justice which has seemed to devolve into unconscionable behavior on Israel’s part. What happened to our people being a “light to the nations”? What happened to the words of our prophets, e.g. “Let justice well up as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream” ?

In 1967 Israel’s choice was to do (what she did) or die (literally). Far too many Jews aren’t aware of Israel’s history, her meaning to our People, and her traditional place as a haven for Jews. To me, Israel is not “just another country.”

   In 2019 she still must defend herself from terrorists and Islamic states that continue to wish her disappearance from the face of the earth. Nevertheless, being the major military might she is today, she should also choose to put more than a little effort into the prophetic message so that the light will once again shine brightly.