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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The logical song

Israel likes to use rational, logical arguments to make its case to the Western world. It is a somewhat effective method, but ultimately it is not what wins wars.

When it comes down to it, from a purely rational perspective, Jerusalem is just a piece of real estate, no more or less important than Gaza or Madagascar. Logical, rational Jews can look through the superstitious nonsense of tradition and coldly calculate the cost of keeping the eastern half versus the benefit of giving it up.

When Western leaders want to pressure Israel, they will also use the same cold hard logic to press their claims. Certainly, they reason, logical Jews realize that holding onto the West Bank is untenable: the demographic threat is insurmountable, the cost of protecting isolated Jewish enclaves is too high, the world pressure will be too relentless.

The irony is that Israel's strongest argument is the one it seems to try to actively downplay - the emotional argument.

The Palestinian Arabs don't use logic at all to try to convince their people that their cause is right - they use purely emotional arguments, constant pictures of Al Quds and videos of al-Dura on TV. They know that emotionally-charged citizens - illogical people - are their best weapon, because the West will throw up its hands in the face of emotional arguments and instead try to get the logical Israelis to give up more land and rights.

Meanwhile, the "enlightened" Israeli intelligentsia (and now leadership) will demonize the very Jews who have the emotional, non-logical connection to the land, the ones that don't listen to their cool academic arguments. Whether the connection is religious or cultural or just vaguely emotional, it has no place in Israeli decision-making. Such emotions are not harnessed; they are quashed.

There is no logical argument for Jews to stay in Hebron. None at all. Yes, you can argue that Jews lived there for centuries, but so what - Jews lived in Baghdad and Alexandria for centuries as well.

This anti-emotional attitude is what could lose Eretz Yisroel.

Chevron (Hebron) is the second-holiest city in Judaism. Logic doesn't enter into it - it is a fact. The heroes who moved there after 1967 were not motivated by logic, but out of pure love for the land and all it represents. It was important enough for them to risk their very lives for an idea - nothing logical about that. To have the state act against these people, to see Jews tell other Jews they cannot live in a city that their forefathers are buried in, is not just wrong. It is criminal. It is tragic that any Jew, even the most secular one, can conceive that Hebron is not a place for Jews to live wherever they want.

The same reasons against Jews living in Chevron can be used to cede all of Israel and take the Iranian advice to move to Alaska.

The very people who can best defend Israel because of their pure love of the Holy Land are being marginalized by their own government. It is beyond tragedy that Israel cannot elect a leadership that can say, clearly, to the world: This is our land. There are red lines that we will never cross, no matter what the reason, and they include Hebron. Kever Rochel. Jerusalem.

The emotional arguments are not only stronger than their logical counterparts, but they resonate more with people. Everyone can understand how someone can love their land beyond all rational thought. Abandoning that argument publically means that the "irrational" love that supporters have for Israel gets eroded as well.

As long as Israel concedes the emotional argument to the Arabs, as long as Israel tries to stay "logical" about her claims, she is at a severe long-term disadvantage in this war.