I was there when the cornerstone was laid for the Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem. The hill was empty. Hundreds of citizens gathered around. Not even one Arab was expelled from his home. As opposed to other places, like Jaffa, Ramle, Lod, Haifa, Safed, Nahariya or Be’er Sheva, all captured by the IDF in 1948, no Arabs lived in what is today Har Homa. It was as if the empty hill was waiting to be salvaged.
It was just like the pre-state days. Just like the time when the Jewish State, whose establishment was just declared, was led by people with vision and faith and hope that what was promised to the Jews on November 29th, 1947 by the United Nations would be rejected by the Arabs and serve as a bridgehead to acquiring everything that was promised to the Jews in the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
It’s a pity that the dry facts are not widely known. That declaration was not just another impassioned document, but rather, an international document that was the basis for the League of Nations’ 1922 decision to grant the British a Mandate to establish the Jewish people’s national home in the Land of Israel.
Nobody in the world at the time heard about the political gimmick known as the “Palestinian people,” and that’s why there is not even one international document that promises this “Palestinian people” the right to self-determination or a territory for establishing its national home.
The big lieWhen the British left the Land of Israel in 1948, they in fact left a government vacuum in their wake, but not a political vacuum. In that regards, the entire area west of the Jordan River should have been handed over to the Jewish State. The “territories” taken over at the time by the Kingdom of Jordan, a puppet state established by the British in order to rob the Jews of 78 percent of the area entrusted in British hands in order to build the Jewish people’s national home, were only recognized by two states (Pakistan and Britain.)
The big lie, as if the State of Israel occupied the “Palestinian state” was nurtured only many years later – particularly in the wake of the Six-Day War.
I’m saying all of this because it’s difficult to understand the huge outcry. Har Homa was built on land that is part of Greater Jerusalem. It is not located on land that the State of Israel “forgot” to handle the way David Ben Gurion handled the territories captured in 1948. Israeli law was applied at the time to any territory captured by Yigal Allon and his comrades – and this put an end to any public debate which predecessors of today’s leftist camp wanted to launch.
In fact, we can say today that had the IDF chosen to charge east, in the direction of Judea and Samaria, and abandoned the Galilee, today we would see Condoleezza Rice and her comrades in the White House questioning the legitimacy of construction in Galilee towns like Carmiel. Any new home in the region would likely be referred to as an illegal outpost.
The road to the sought-after peace does not pass through Har Homa. This quiet neighborhood merely became a symbol. The demand to freeze all Jewish construction beyond the armistice lines determined at the end of the 1948 war is silly. Why are Jews allowed to build in territories captured that same year in northern Tel Aviv for example, but are not allowed to build in Har Homa or in Pisgat Ze’ev or in Maale Adumim, where no Arabs lived?
There is one thing we can say at this time: Neither the Americans nor anyone else can tell us, the Jews, where to live in the Land of Israel. If we have no right to build homes in Beit-El or in Shilo or in Hebron, we certainly have no right to build in northern Tel Aviv or in Herzliya.
Dr. Haim Misgav is an attorney and law lecturer