"Israel has no better friends throughout the world."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a videotaped address to an Evangelical Christian Summit in Jerusalem – Sep 2015.
– On first reading I must question why these two weren’t arrested by police, as happens in regular communities? it seems odd (to outsiders) with the use of excessive force… But on the other hand; what were the teenagers doing there (apart from attacking people)? What did they hope to achieve? Also, what did they think would happen after attacking soldiers? Then there's the imbalance: guns and bullets versus bats and knives… though in 2011 there was similar story when two Arab teenagers (similarly armed) broke into a house (in Samaria), murdering an entire family. As a rule though, tensions are always high. Since the beginning, Israeli soldiers have taken the stance of no compromise. But we still live with the fact that 2 more teenagers are dead.
The Bible contains some of the oldest historical records known to man, much older than the Qur'an.
Foundations of Israeli culture (founded in the wisdom of the law of Moses) is divinely inspired and linked/integral to the religious beliefs of over half the world’s population (55% in 2010), and that’s only counting the big ones (Christianity – a third of the world’s population, Islam – quarter, and then the much smaller Judaism)… and that 'religious' population is increasing fast.
In other words, Israel is the most devout state in exercising God’s early inspired practices, due to the fact that Israel as a nation has a direct covenant with God (Deut 5:2).
“Although other ancient communities saw a divine presence in history, this was taken up in its most consequent fashion within the ancient Israelite community and has remained, through many developments, the focus of its descendants' religious affirmations” --- [http://history-world.org/history_of_judaism.htm]
Firstly; what kind of God has “chosen people”, i.e. favourites, what about the rest of us unlucky enough to be born in another country… and furthermore, regarding said favourites, why Israel?
No one knows why God chose Israel because no one knows the mind of God. The second part though is quite interesting, looking at the nation itself – if one were to petition the world, Israel would definitely not be the most popular country insofar as topics of human rights and politics are concerned. In fact many would see the nation as (and they've been labelled as such) supremacists. Seeing themselves (in some ways) as higher than the rest of the world, kind of like the way other school kids look at the teacher’s pet. Moreover, what does it mean for the rest of the world knowing that God has chosen one nation?
At a glance, in terms of Biblical practice/law etc… Israel has drifted far from God. It’s a tough sell; how does one reconcile “Love thy neighbour” with protecting oneself from terrorism and being the only tiny Jewish State in a hostile (Anti-Semitic) Arab world (with leaders openly proclaiming their will for Israel's destruction)?
But then again, God has this habit or pattern of redemption… the Bible is full of it, it’s literally the central message of the Bible: Salvation, redemption of humanity through his son Jesus Christ (a Jew). And if we look throughout history, Israel has constantly failed God, failed to obey him. Yet the message is that despite (our) failings, God still loves us.
So in reality, as Jesus said, let he who is without sin cast the first stone… no one is without sin, so no one can really judge. Israel is an allegory for all of us.
"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8
Logically, looking at the state of the region, the media and general sentiment invariably overlooks the reality Israel faces –
“Arab and Iranian dictators oppress their subjects, sponsor terrorism and imperil Israel. Israel is the sole democracy in a neighbourhood comprising 23 dictatorships - including 7 out of 19 of the most repressive regimes in the world, half of the world’s major terror groups and 5 out of the world's 7 state-sponsors of terrorism. There are 360 million oppressed people in Arab states and Iran” [middle-east-info.org]
There is a constant threat of war and violence. Israel is a militarized nation because it has to be. Since the nation was founded it has been at war, and as such, cannot take a backward step. Compromising too much on Palestine, may be perceived as a weakness.
This is inherently an (Arab/Islam)-Jew issue, taking the form of Israel-vs-Palestine… Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.7 million, 1.1 million are Muslims, 130,000 are Christians, and 100,000 are Druze. All have equal voting rights -- Israel is one of a very few places (in the ‘Arab world’) where Arab women have the right to vote, and Arabs currently hold 17 seats in the Knesset (some Arab lawmakers are part of the ruling Likud Party and Zionist Union). Also, the Knesset, as of 2015 elections, broke its record of female parliamentarians (28).
One can say you side with a country or people but it doesn’t mean you agree with all their governmental policies or military actions. (I am a citizen of South Africa, but I do not agree with most of the ruling ANC’s policies, and I did not vote for Pres. Zuma). This is an important distinction to make. The Knesset make a lot of unpopular decisions, but then again, so do many democratic administrations (e.g. the US Gov are guilty of many war crimes committed during the Iraqi war, yet we look the other way because they’re perceived as the good guys – along with the western allies). Let's also emphasize how bloody Western hands are in the Middle East, in particular the role Britain had in forming the nation of Israel. By my reckoning, Britain betrayed both sides, Israelis and Arabs.
There are many scholars and politicians who make the comparison, and there are many similarities, but for a cursory look at that, check out the Wikipedia page dedicated to the issue [Israel and the apartheid analogy] to form your own opinion. If I start n this topic, it'll spiral into another article of its own. Instead, I’ll focus on the current governing authority in Gaza – Hamas (founded in 1987) as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, “Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”
Note: The name “Hamas” is used in the Bible as early as Genesis, and is a Hebrew word literally meaning “violence”.
Further issues arise when seeking the actual origin location of the people of Palestine – what is their true homeland. After 1948, Jerusalem was internationalized, the West Bank (formerly Judea and Samaria) was ruled by Jordan and the Gaza Strip was then ruled by Egypt.
None of this however excuses anyone from ill-treating another.
Japanese writer, Yashiko Sagamori:
“If you are so sure that " Palestine , the country, goes back through most of recorded history," I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine :
- When was it founded and by whom? - 2. What were its borders? - 3. What was its capital? - 4. What were its major cities? - 5. What constituted the basis of its economy? - 6. What was its form of government? - 7. Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat? - 8. Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation? - 9. What was the language of the country of Palestine ? - 10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ? - 11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date. - 12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?
- The name Palaestina, which became Palestine in English, is derived from the term Palaestine Syria, used by Greek historian Herodotus (5th Century BC) referring to the entire southern region of Syria, meaning "Philistine Syria." The name was kept by the next possessors, the Byzantine Empire, and then by the conquering Arabs and their successors, the conquering Turks (Ottoman Empire). Note: the succession of varying nationalities (Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, or Turks), none thinking of themselves as Palestinians. During the 7th century, Muslims invaded and the Crusaders from Europe ruled for a time until they too were driven out. The Crusaders left Palestine for good when the Muslims captured Acre in 1291 AD. Thereafter, crusaders often raided the coast of Palestine. To deny them gains from these raids, the Muslims pulled their people back from the coasts, destroying coastal towns and farms, depopulating and impoverishing the coastal region for hundreds of years.
- In the mid-1200's, Mamelukes, originally soldier-slaves of the Arabs based in Egypt, established an empire that eventually included Palestine, lasting until the Ottoman Empire defeated them in 1517. Then, Palestine (including modern-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Syria) became part of the vast Ottoman Empire. The Turkish Sultan then invited Jews fleeing the Spanish Catholic inquisition to settle in the Turkish empire, including several cities in Palestine. The Ottoman Empire (eventually siding with Nazi Germany) ruled until the British took control of the area in 1917.
- After WWI, at the breaking up of the Turkish Empire by the victorious Allies, both Jews and Arabs requested independent states. The world powers were extremely generous to the Arabs, granting them twenty-two independent Arabs states – encompassing 5,414,000 square miles. The Jews asked for less than 1% of that territory. The Allies agreed to this request (which included both sides of the Jordan) in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1920 San Remo Conference of World Powers. In 1920, the League of Nations proclaimed that Palestine was to be a homeland for the Jews, Lebanon as a place for Arab Christians, with Syria and Iraq to be homelands for Arab Moslems. In 1921 Great Britain reneged on the Balfour Declaration. England [the occupying power in Palestine] gave all of Palestine east of the River Jordan [77%] to Arab Moslems, forbidding Jews to live there.
Further UN estimates put the property loses of Jews kicked out of Arab countries after 1948 at 10 times those lost by/taken from Palestinian Arabs.
- “There is no such country [as Palestine]! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, to the Peel Commission, 1937.
- “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.”- Ahmed Shuqeiri, later the chairman of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), to the UN Security Council.
- Most of the Arabs from the territory of Palestine thought of themselves as members of an all-embracing Arab nation. It was (Yassir) Arafat who made the intellectual leap to a definition of the Palestinians as a distinct people; articulating the cause, organizing it, fighting for it and bringing it to the world’s attention.
- Syrian President Hafez Assad to PLO leader Yassir Arafat:
“You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian People, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people.”
- PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat in his speech before the UN in 1974 declared, “The Jewish invasion began in 1881…Palestine was then a verdant area, inhabited mainly by an Arab people in the course of building its life and dynamically enriching its indigenous culture.”
- “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies…Palestine is desolate and unlovely…It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land.” – Mark Twain’s travel journal ‘The Innocents Abroad’ (1867).
Coming back to the Arab Powers wanting to wipe Israel off the map, if the Jewish nation relaxes its policy regarding Hezbollah and Hamas, it will open the door to its own destruction. Hence PM Benyamin Netanyahu saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy’ speaking of Iran's fight against ISIS, but emphasizing their resolute and unrelenting antagonism, hence Israels continued stance toward its 'traditional' enemies.
How should Israel handle a people that have elected a political party (Hamas) whose military arm is recognized by many countries as a terrorist organization, making Hamas, by definition, a supporter of terrorism? The Knesset is in an unenviable position. It also has to be said that, without the structure of Hamas, Gaza would fall into complete chaos.
The truth is that there was 'a people' in the land around the time of the British Mandate, post WWI. The argument that the land was not Britain's to divide can be countered by saying that its is debatable whose land it was in the first place (this of course ignores the old trope of 'dividing the spoils of war'). It's naive to think that Jews immigrated to a completely empty patch of deserted land... there were definitely people there, villages, but its also erroneous to assume that those people were thriving and united - they weren't. This of course does nothing to solve the problem we now face, but it does inform the issue. The 'Palestinians' occupying the land were a mix, some indigenous, some nomadic, some were bandits, others were Bedouins, and others still were living on land owned by remote landowners - wealthy Arabs who owned tracts of land granting poorer Arabs residence because they could not support themselves. And yes, there were tribal feuds in the region. The picture of a tranquil, thriving people cultivating the land is not accurate... the truth is somewhere between the Israeli and Palestinian coated historical accounts.
What is clear is that the Palestinian people lacked a clear unified leadership possessing foresight and harboring the best interests for their (divided) people. Of course the infamous 'Al Nakba' (Catastrophe) of the late 30's robbed them of valued leaders, but they lacked a central peaceful unifying figure.
Here's a Southern African historical example to inform this issue:
The Khoi and San (Bushmen - tan/light brown skin) people of Southern Africa are the indigenous First nation people of the region, yet they are hardly represented in South African demographics. When the better equipped (for war and violence) Boers (Dutch and French Hugenots), British, Xhosa and Zulu confronted them, encroaching on their land, the tribal leaders of the Bushmen made a painful but crucial decision, to leave the land, but to send representatives of the tribe to each 'corner' of South Africa, a defiant symbolic move representing their legacy. Today the indigenous Bushmen are in the Northern Cape (of SA) as well as Namibia. it was a big move, but if they'd stayed, the entire tribe would've been obliterated.
Why is this relevant?
Because the Bushmen's main concern (in particular the Chief) was survival - on whatever land - because they were/and still are a peaceful nation. Preservation of his people was paramount.
In the case of the leaders of the people calling themselves 'Palestinians', survival was/is not the priority, but land. The Palestinian people are led by those who's primary motivation is not peace. "Palestinian" was simply a label for any person living on the land, (whether Arab, Christian or Jew). The Yassir Arafat (& the PLO) concept of a Palestinian state, after 1967... was accepted and nurtured by the media and surrounding Arab states. In reality, the 'Palestinian people' (without a country), share the same religion, culture and language as most of the other 22 Arab nations. The claims of having a nation of their own with Jerusalem as their capital, is indicative of their motivation of wanting something that was never 'theirs' to begin with.
The number of Jews inhabiting the land was always limited by the governing power of the time. Hence the argument of there being more Arabs than Jews in the area is misleading, because that is the situation that the governing powers instituted. Britain then changed that.
A reminder - Palestine is simply a Roman-ized version of Philistine (see also Felastin, Peleshet). The land was purposefully renamed after the ancient Jewish enemy, specifically to mock the Jews, as further humiliation after being driven from their homeland. *Note, it was the name of the land itself, and not any grouping of people.
If the current Palestinian people had a visionary leader with a strong capacity for peace, he/she could've brokered a deal long ago, taken a vote amongst the resident Arabs, with the resolution of either becoming a part of the re-established Israeli nation (ie. abide by their governance and law), or leave by their own volition. Of course concessions would be made, and it would not have been easy, but it would've facilitated a much greater capacity for peace, giving each man an opportunity to choose the fate of his family. As mentioned, Israel contains Arabs, Muslims and Christians (A guide for this is found in Ezekiel 47:21-23, describing those willing to accept Israeli sovereignty will be treated as equals in their inheritance of the land)... but peace was not the motivation, not by the local leaders of the time, nor by the incoming Israeli forces (trained under British rule, fighting alongside the allies in WWI), anticipating hostility upon their arrival. *Note, this speaks of the greater 'Palestinian Arabs', a small number did accept Israeli governance.
Arab Muslims though, find the concept of Israeli rule near abhorrent, due to the current interpretation of Islam. It is not about land. So much of Islamic ideology leans toward the 'Dar al-Islam' (Domain of Islam) and the 'Dar al harb' (Domain/House of War). the latter refers to all people outside the Islamic faith (hence the constant state of Jihad - Holy War). This is another area of division within Islam, because the terms 'Dar al-Islam' and 'Dar al harb' do not actually occur in the Qur'an, but came into being a century after Muhammad. Though it can be said that the instigators of these terms were taking from the example of Muhammad and his army, and their treatment of the Jewish tribes of the time, in particular, of Banu Qurayza. And hence the 'ideology' of extremist groups like ISI.
"The Palestinian people have no national identity.
I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel."
- Yasser Arafat
There are many scriptures dealing with God’s favour over the nation, and then also the subsequent rebellion of Israel. When we say Israel is God’s chosen people, what does that mean? Whenever you hear the term ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ – it refers to the lineage – Jesus’ lineage, the same one that goes through David, Noah and eventually all the way back to Adam, the first man... man was once “one people, one nation” – under God. But the world is a broken place, and all our divisions have come as a result of that initial break, that separation between man and God. The Fall of Man had massive consequences.
What we’re living with now, is just the view from the other side across the cracks which formed in creation, when man decided to disobey God.
God promised Abram that the land will be given to his descendants, in particular through Isaac and Jacob. (As opposed to Ishmael, and thence the deep roots of difference between Islam and Christianity)
- “2 - and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3- then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes[a] and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. 4- Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. 5- He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.” Deut 30 : 2-5 (emphasis added)
- “He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Isa 11:12
- “Then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land.” Eze 37:21
- “A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. The Lord your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. ...” Joshua 23 : 1-16
- "On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it." Zech 12:3
- "Now also many nations are gathered against you, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion... But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD, And they do not understand His purpose; For He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor." Micah 4:11
Although the Lord also promised Israel her land, stretching from the Nile (in Egypt) to the Euphrates (in Iraq)… it does not say that Israel will, or will have to, invade or conquer the land by force. What is evident, is that if Israel pushes for the biblical boundaries, we’ll only see more bloodshed.
Christians simply accept the authority of God and the fulfillment of prophecy, that does not mean He (or we) condone the killings and humiliation of innocent Palestinian civilians.
I hope this article has, at the very least, given some insight into the Middle-Eastern conflict.
[Sources, other than those stated: 'Al-Nakba' documentary series, azquotes.com, focusonjerusalem.com, al-rassooli.com, targetofoppotunity.com, americanthinker.com, jfjfp.com (Jews for justice for Palestinians)]