Obama's mixed message: Jews should leave biblical heartland

Thursday, March 21, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

When he arrived in Israel on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama clearly and unequivocally reaffirmed the historical and biblical connection of the Jewish people to this land.

A day later, he stood at the podium at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah and stated that allowing Jews to build homes and live in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria was "problematic" and "not constructive" to achieving peace in the region.

So, which is it? Do the Jews have an ancient connection to this land that entitles them to live here, or don't they?

Obama, like the rest of the West, tries to draw a dividing line between the so-called "West Bank" and the rest of Israel, asserting that it is perfectly normal for Jews to dwell in the latter, but taboo for them to build in the former.

But most of us living here on the ground know better. Judea and Samaria are every bit as much a part of the biblical land of Israel as Tel Aviv. In fact, even more so.

It was in Judea and Samaria that the bulk of the events chronicled in the Bible took place. Even much of Jesus' recorded ministry took place in areas where Obama and others are now telling Jews they cannot live.

If the historical and biblical rights Obama spoke of on Wednesday do not extend to Judea and Samaria, then they do not include Tel Aviv, either.

That is not to say Israel won't compromise those rights for the sake of what it hopes will be lasting peace (though many are warning against doing so). In fact, Israel has already agreed to compromise.

But for there to be any hope of a genuine peace, Israel understands that everyone must first acknowledge that the Jewish connection extends to Judea and Samaria, because Israel knows that the Arabs know that devoid of a recognized connection to Judea and Samaria, the Jewish claim to any other part of the land becomes all but null and void.

When Obama speaks of Jewish settlements, he would do well to pay attention to official Palestinian media, which also identifies as settlements the cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheva, and so on.

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