Israel Forever

For the week ending 14 September 2002 / 8 Tishri 5763

The Right of Return

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

"Zechut hasheiva" the Right of Return is an issue which stands in the way of any final peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinians, backed by the Arab states, insist on the "right" of those who left their homes in Israel in the 1948 War of Liberation to return to those homes.

This claim conveniently ignores the historic fact that these Arabs were not evicted from their homes but willingly left them at the urging of their leaders who wished them to be evacuated in the wake of what they expected to be a rout of the Israeli defenders. It also fails to consider the fact that between 1948 and 1959 nearly a million Jews were expelled from Arab countries and deprived of their property with no one clamoring for their right of return.

In addition to these moral rejections of the right to return Israel has a pragmatic reason for staunchly refusing to discuss a move which would create a demographic earthquake that would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

In these Days of awe between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Jews in Israel and throughout the world are thinking about a very different "right of return" the right of every human to return to his Creator. For Jews this means the opportunity of affecting divine judgment for the new year by returning to a greater dedication to our Torah heritage. For the Arabs it should mean an abandonment of the incitement to terrorism preached by their clerics and an exercise of their right to return to the moral standards established by the Creator of all men which alone can bring a lasting peace to this part of the world.

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