The battle for the holy land
- Israel in focus
The dispute over Israel and Jerusalem is a long-standing topic of communication, but what is the background of the Palestinians and what is the real history?
The most controversial issue in politics during the past years and decades has been the state of Israel. It has been in the media and in the headlines probably more than any other subject over the last decades and often in a negative way. It is probably due to the fact that this country has continuously been a target of attacks from inside and outside. It has survived three large wars and numerous suicide attacks, all of which sustained the interest of the media. It has divided people strictly into two groups: those for it and those against it (the majority). The leading antagonists are followers of Islam, and atheists. Muslims refuse to recognise the existence of Israel and are determined to destroy it. Muslims and atheists also represent the greatest spiritual enemies of Christianity and the gospel about Christ.
Next we are going to study this interesting and controversial topic. We will study it in particular in the light of the Bible, which has a message for us modern people. We will start with history in order to get a deeper understanding of the subject.
HISTORY. One should note that the names Israel and Jerusalem have a long history. It is not a question of a couple of decades or a century; these names were known and used more than 3,000 years ago. The Bible – the last books of which were written around 2,000 years ago – repeatedly refers to both places. Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible around a thousand times, which means that it was a central place already at that time (The holy book of the Muslims, the Koran, does not mention it even once.) Furthermore, the Bible refers to the states of Israel and Judea, which were ruled by David and other kings for centuries. The name Israel is mentioned in the Bible more than 2,000 times.
This means that the roots of the Jews are deeply planted in Israel and Jerusalem. The following verses include a description of Jerusalem written during the times of the New Testament. They refer to the city, the centre of Jewish spiritual life, the city of the Great King in which Jesus walked and in which the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. The city that was the heart of Israel past is controversial even now.
- (Matt 2:1,2) Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
- (Matt 5:34,35) But I say to you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
- (Matt 21:10,11) And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
- (Mark 1:3-5) The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5 And there went out to him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
- (Luke 17:11-14) And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the middle of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said to them, Go show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
- (Luke 24:18,19) And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said to him, Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem, and have not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said to them, What things? And they said to him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
- (Luke 24:46-48) And said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And you are witnesses of these things.
- (John 2:23-25) Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
- (John 10:22-26) And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said to him, How long do you make us to doubt? If you be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and you believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
26 But you believe not, because you are not of my sheep, as I said to you.
- (John 12:12,13) On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord.
- (Acts 1:4-8) And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, you have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.
8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
- (Acts 2:14-18) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said to them, You men of Judaea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known to you, and listen to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
- (Acts 5:15,16) So that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about to Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
- (Acts 8:26-29) And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.
- (Acts 20:16) For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hurried, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
- (Rom 15:18,19) For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not worked by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about to Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
DEBT OF SIN AND BANISHMENT. We can read in the Bible that God promised the land to Abraham. He who ”has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26) gave Abraham a promise of an area of land between Egypt and the Euphrates. The same promise was later confirmed to Isaac, Jacob and their descendants. This small area of land that God called His land (Joel 3:1,2), the place of the predicted end of the world and a large battlefield, this small piece of land was given to the descendants of Abraham as their eternal heritage.
The promise to Abraham:
- (Gen 13:14,15) And the LORD said to Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
15 For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed for ever.
The promise was confirmed to Isaac:
- (Gen 26:3,4) Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you, and to your seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father;
4 And I will make your seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give to your seed all these countries; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
The promise was confirmed to Jacob:
- (Gen 35:9-13) And God appeared to Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
10 And God said to him, Your name is Jacob: your name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name: and he called his name Israel.
11 And God said to him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of you, and kings shall come out of your loins;
12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to you I will give it, and to your seed after you will I give the land.
13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
- (1 Chron 16:15-18) Be you mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
16 Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath to Isaac;
17 And has confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,
18 Saying, To you will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance;
Even though the land was promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, meaning the Jews, and even though they inhabited the land at the times of Jesus, it is a known fact that they were forced to leave. It is known that Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed in 70 A.D. It came true when Titus, who later became the emperor of Rome, marched to Jerusalem with his troops, laid siege on the city, and forced it to surrender under the threat of starvation. Finally, the city was burned, the beautiful temple built by Herod destroyed, approximately 1.1 million people killed and 100,000 people taken prisoner. The mass destruction of Jerusalem and its inhabitants is still considered one of the worst in history. Jewish historian Josephus describes the demise of the city:
No visitor who had seen the old Judea and the beautiful suburbs of its capital and who saw this destruction could hold his tears and not mourn the terrible change. The war had changed all the beautiful things into a desert. Nobody who knew these places from the earlier times could any longer recognize them. (1)
What was the reason why Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed and the people were forced to leave?
The answer is simple: the debt of sin. The devastation Israel experienced did not take place by accident; the starting point of everything was that the sinful acts and evil attitudes of the people had exceeded God’s fixed limit; that’s what sparked the disaster. The people had heaped sin upon sin for decades and centuries and behaved more wickedly than their fathers (Jer 16:12: And you have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, you walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not listen to me:). Finally, God's patience ran out and he took away his protection from the nation of Israel. The historian Josephus described the sinfulness of that generation and their atheism, and explained why they were met by the devastation. He wrote:
It was destiny that ordered devastation like this. Inevitably it came, both for the living and the lifeless, also places. However, one cannot help but to wonder the accuracy of data, how it has been proportioned: the destruction took place on the same day of the same month (…) as the Babylonians earlier burnt the holy room. (2)
I presume that if the Roman attack against these rascals had been delayed, the earth would have opened and swallowed this city, or a drowning flood would have come, or it would have been destroyed by the fire and burning sulphur of a thunderstorm as the country of Sodom was destroyed. This generation was much more atheistic than those who were destroyed before in the punishment of Sodom; and then, the whole nation was also destroyed for the sake of their absurdity. (3)
The Bible also shows us that these things had been prophesied and people had been warned about them. There was the warning given by Moses, and there was Daniel's prophecy that Jerusalem and its temple would be destroyed, as well as Jesus’ prophecy about the same thing. He told how "your house is left to you desolate”, about the city being sieged and about people being dispersed among others. These have all come true and show that the Bible is true.
- (Lev 26:38,39,43) And you shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lies desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
- (Dan 9:25,26) Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined.
- (Matt 23:37,38) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!
38 Behold, your house is left to you desolate.
- (Luke 19:41-44) And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes.
43 For the days shall come on you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side,
44 And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.
- (Luke 21:5,6,20) And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
6 As for these things which you behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone on another, that shall not be thrown down.
20 And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is near.
THE FATE OF THE LAND AFTER 70 A.D. After 70 A.D. when the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple took place, there were several rulers one after the other. When the hedge of the vineyard of Israel and Jerusalem was taken away (Isa 5:5: And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down) and destroyed and trampled, the land fell into the hands of different rulers for centuries. There were at least eight successive ruling groups:
- ... - 395 A.D. - Romans
- 395 - 636 A.D. - Byzantines
- 636 - 1072 A.D. - Arabs
- 1072 - 1099 A.D. - Seljuks
- 1099 - 1291 A.D. - “Crusaders”
- 1291 - 1516 A.D. - Mamluks
- 1516 - 1917 A.D. - Turkish Ottomans
- 1917 - 1948 A.D. - British mandate administration
The list illustrates that the land was in the hands of different rulers in turn across many centuries, actually almost for two millennia. A change did not take place until 1948 when the country of Israel became independent and came under Jewish rule. Actually, there were Jews living in the region almost all the time. In Jerusalem in 1896, for example, Jews were a clear majority among Christians and Muslims. There were 45,420 residents: 61.9% were Jews, 19.3% Christians, and 18.8% Muslims.
The consequence of the land being under foreign rule was that it started to deteriorate and became deserted little by little. Muslims and other groups in possession of the land neither settled down nor made it flourish. A good example of this is the fact that during Muslim rule, which lasted for centuries after the year 636, only one town was built, the town of Ramle, and the land started to deteriorate. Whenever the land and the city of Jerusalem have not been in the hands of the Jews, they have become desolate and fallen into ruin, but in their hands the land and city have prospered.
The well-known author Mark Twain painted a good picture of the desolation of the land. His description of Galilee in the 1800s:
There is not a single village in the entire vast area. Only two or three groups of Bedouin tents were in sight but not a single permanent settlement. In an area ten miles wide, not ten people are in sight. This area was spoken about in a prophecy: 'I will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.' No one who stands by the ruined Ai Mellah can say that this prophecy has not been fulfilled. (4)
A Finnish soldier, who was in General Allenby's troops conquering the land under Turkish power for the British empire, also described the desolation of the land and doubted whether it could ever become inhabited again. This was only a little over 30 years before the creation of the country. Based on these words we can conclude that the prophecies in the Bible about the desolation of the land have been fulfilled:
Until now, I have been able to believe everything the Bible says. But that at some point in time the Jewish shopkeepers, doctors, and judges will return here – and the Bible indeed says that they will – I find hard to believe. This country we conquered from Turks is completely desolate, burnt by the Sun, full of sand, thorns, bogs, scorpions, and snakes. Nobody could ever live here. (5)
WHO ARE THE PALESTINIANS? As noted, the Jews were forced to leave Israel after the devastation of 70 A.D. and 135 A.D., and the country was slowly ruined and became desolate as foretold in several prophecies. This desolation lasted for centuries. It was at its worst during the 400-year rule of the Muslims (1516–1917) when even trees were taxed, which led to trees being destroyed because people wanted to avoid the payments. As a consequence the land became perfectly deserted because the erosion-preventing vegetation was gone. Some areas became swampy, others got parched, and living conditions became almost impossible – a fact that caused population to decrease. Descriptions from the 1700s and 1800s indicate that the land then was a desert, sparsely inhabited, and that it was burdened by illegality:
1738 "...The people who would have cultivated the fruitful soil of the land were gone." (Th. Shaw, Travels and Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant, London 1767).
1785 "The land was ruined and deserted." (C.F. Volnay, Travels Through Syria and Egypt in the Years 1783, 1784 and 1785, London 1787).
1844 "During Volnay, the land had not yet achieved the last degree of depopulation." (A. Keith, The Land of Israel, Edinburgh 1844).
1865 "...both in the north and the south (Sharon plain), agriculture is coming to an end and whole villages are rapidly disappearing." (H.B. Tristram, The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine, London 1865) (6)
What about the Palestinians? As to their background, we may occasionally hear that they have always been one nation and that Jerusalem has always been their capital. However, history does not support those statements. If we look at the time after 70 A.D. when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed and the Jews were dispersed, we see that there existed no Palestinian state. Such a state would have had its own rulers, its own army, its own currency, its own language, recognizable borders and other features signifying national identity. These important features were completely missing.
Instead, history teaches that present-day Palestinians are Arabs who came from surrounding states. Many are descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, and most of them moved into the area during the past 150 years.
These people did not represent one nationality but several: Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Iraqi, etc. They arrived from neighbouring Arab states or (before the year 1917) from the former Turkish Ottoman region, which until a hundred years ago still had possession of most of the Arab states. They could not have had any kind of Palestinian identity at that time; neither was there any mention of any Palestinian identity made by neighbour Arab states. These mentions were made a lot later.
What led people to move from surrounding areas to the present land of Israel was the fact that conditions were much better there. Consequences of the migration of the Jews included an increase in wages and the standard of living, and this tempted them to move away from the surrounding areas. The people mostly migrated to those areas where the standard of living had increased the most. The nearly abandoned area, a distant and desolate place, started to be inhabited again.
When the land started to react to the hard work of the Jews, they became victims of their own success. The Muslims who had not cared about what happens to the land for centuries heard about the success of the Jews. They started to flow into the land from the neighbouring Muslim states, intending to work for the Jews. When they moved back they did not want to settle down in new areas but to the areas where the Jews were. (7)
A fact to which we should pay attention is that Palestinian identity is a relatively new concept. There was no talk of it when Israel became independent (in 1948). The Arabs did not mention it because it was not a known concept at the time. They were the same Arabs as in the surrounding Muslim states. Instead, it started to appear only after the war in 1967, which was won by Israel. These people who were of several nationalities and whose parents came from neighbouring countries received their new identity around that time. Representatives of the PLO, especially, sought self-identity for tactical reasons because they wanted to use it against Israel. There has not been a long historical foundation:
We emphasize our Palestinian identity only for political reasons. (…) A special Palestinian identity serves only tactical goals. Establishing a state of Palestine is a new tool in the continuous battle against Israel. (…) When we have received all our rights in all of Palestine, we will not waste any more time in uniting Jordan and Palestine. (Stated by Zuheir Muhsini, leader of PLO operational department, in an interview given to Dutch magazine Trouw on 31 March 1977.) (8)
What seems to be less noted is the fact that neither during the years immediately preceding the war leading to Israel’s independence nor the years immediately after it was a state called Palestine ever named as the other party to the war. What was mentioned, instead, was that the objective of neighbour Arab states was to prevent the creation of a Jewish state and that their objective to absolutely destroy such a state regardless of any UN resolutions. The war in 1948 was not fought for the purpose of creating an independent state called Palestine. Instead the objective was to divide the land among the five attacking Arab states... Therefore, the idea of an independent and eternal state called Palestine came into being during the times after the summer war of 1967.Only after that were they actively developed. (9)
The refugee problem. One concern connected to the so-called Palestinians, or Arabs who live in the Israeli area and elsewhere, is the refugee problem and the fact that many of them have had to spend years in camps in the surrounding Arabic areas and often in bad conditions. This and other factors have been the cause of their suffering and the reason they have become bitter:
Taking all this into consideration, the sufferings of the Palestinians also pierce my heart. I have visited my Palestinian friends in Lebanon at camps ravaged by the wars and seen how they have fought against Israeli soldiers. I have interviewed the local Palestinian leaders and read their newspapers. To me, they are not mere statistics but living persons whose grievances I have heard. A man must be totally hardened in the heart not to see that the Palestinians are suffering. (10)
But what has caused the Palestinian refugee problem? What is the reason behind it and where did it come from?
The answer can be found in the actions of the Arabs. This problem arose when the neighbouring Arab states began warfare against the newly-born state in 1948 and advised their kinsmen, the so-called Palestinians, to get out of their way, to leave because then there would be a free opportunity to conquer the land, and because it would be difficult to know who is a Jew and who an Arab amidst the total destruction.
This problem did not arise from the fact that these people were expelled by force, as is often said in the Arabic media. Instead, it was caused by their own negative propaganda. The official stance of Israel was that the Arabs should stay in their homes. This command was obeyed by some of the Arabs, and as a result they got to carry on with their lives in their original places. Those who listened to the speeches of their Arab brothers left the area. As a consequence, the refugee problem arose. If the Arab states had agreed to accept the existence of Israel there would have been no war and no refugee problem.
We the refugees (…) left our homeland because we trusted in the crooked leaders of the Arab states and their deceitful promises. They promised us that our absence would take no longer than two weeks; it would be like a trip, after which we would return. (Jordanian newspaper Falastin, 30 May 1955)
Those Arab states that advised Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily at the time of the attack and occupation have broken their promise to help these refugees. (Jordanian newspaper Falastin 19 February 1949)
Who brought the Palestinian refugees to Lebanon, where they now have to suffer the negative attitudes of the press and Arab leaders? These newspapers and leaders have no conscience or honor. Who was to blame for the fact that they were brought out of their country under terrible adversity, having lost their money and honor? The Arab states, Lebanon among them, are guilty. (Magazine Kul-Shay, Beirut 19 August 1951).
King Hussein, 17 January 1970: "The Arab leaders have used the nation of Palestine for their selfish political purposes. It is ridiculous, and I would even go so far as to say that it is criminal."
It is true that some Jewish extremist organizations were guilty of fraudulent practices. In Deir Jassin, for example, several Arabs died. So their reputation is not spotless, either. However, this was an exception to the official political stance and goals of Israel. The Jewish Bureau and Haganah, the official army of the Zionist movement, sentenced those responsible for the massacre of Deir Yassin to severe punishment. It should also be noted that the case of Deir Yassin has been exaggerated and the Arabs themselves have admitted it. Most of the death people were Arab fighters - the number of deaths has since been confirmed to be 107-110 - and it happened in a situation where there was a state of war in the country. The Arabs ’own exaggerated propaganda caused that the Arabs left the country in terror:
"Those distorted accounts of Deir Yassin's atrocities were our biggest mistake ... the Palestinians fled in terror." (Hazem Nusseibeh, Palestine Broadcasting Service, Arabian News Editor)
Golda Meir, one of the leaders of Israel, has also referred to the events of past decades. She has told how they urged the Arabs to stay, not to leave. She also mentions how the lives of Arabs who remained in Israel were easier than those who emigrated:
Every time I read or hear about the Arabs we are alleged to have treated cruelly, it makes my blood boil. In April 1948, I stood on the shores of Haifa myself for hours and literally prayed the Arabs of the city to give up their departure intentions. It was a situation I will never forget. Hagana had just taken over Haifa, and the Arabs began to flee — because their leaders had eloquently asserted it to be the wisest course of action and because the British had so generously provided dozens of trucks for their use. Any of Hagana’s deeds or words didn't help - not the reassurances of the speakers installed in the cars or the flyers we sowed in the Arab metropolitan area. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ they said in Arabic and Hebrew. 'By leaving the city, you will only acquire for yourself poverty and humiliation. Stay in a city that is both yours and ours'. To quote the then commander of the British forces, General Hugh Stockwell, 'the Arab leaders left first, and no one did anything to stop the rush, which turned into panic' ...
... It is true that we always used the houses that the Arabs left behind when they fled the country in 1948, but at the same time we spent more than £ 10 million on new Arab housing and resettled hundreds of Arabs who had remained in Israel and lost their homes as a result of the fighting. In 1953, we drafted a land redemption law under which at least two-thirds of Arabs who made their claims received compensation or property back.
... However, the lives of Arabs who remained in Israel were easier than those who moved away. Before 1948, hardly any Arab village in Palestine had yet received electricity or water, and 20 years later there were hardly any Arab villages in Israel without electricity or running water. I spent a lot of my time in those villages as Minister of Labor and felt as much satisfaction with what we did for them as I did when the transit camps disappeared. (11)
THE RESISTANCE AGAINST ISRAEL. If we think about the possibility that Israel will be attacked at the end of this age, certainly the first requirement is that nations express a negative attitude towards Israel. They must show hostility towards this nation before prophecies in the Bible can come true.
It is interesting to observe that signs of hostility have appeared since the date of Israel’s independence, and are still evident. These signs include the following:
Wars. Wars already fought against Israel are one example of the opposition Israel faces. Even though there are no large reserves of natural resources such as oil in Israel and the surface area is also insignificant when compared to the surrounding Arab states, Israel has been involved in wars and has been attacked many times. Many nations, especially the surrounding Arab states, have wanted to deny Israel as a state and have attacked it several times, specifically in 1948, 1967, and 1973. In all those wars, the existence of the nation of Israel was greatly threatened. Miraculously, it has been preserved. The next quote discusses the war in 1973:
The outcome of the War of Six Days in 1967 is deemed a wonder, but it was nothing compared to the war of Yom Kippur. And when we see the whole truth in the coming years we will see that Israel's salvation from destruction absolutely went against all reason.
(…) The attacks at both fronts were large-scale and terrifying. At the Syrian front, there were more tanks than in the German attack of the Soviet Union in 1941 when there were 1,000 tanks on a frontline of 300 kilometers. At the Syrian front on the hills of Golan, there were 1,200 tanks along a line of 33 kilometers. And later at Sinai the largest tank battle in history was fought, which was more massive than the fight of El Alamein during the Second World War.
We Englishmen are inclined towards imperialist attitudes because we have regarded Syria as an insignificant, small and petty state of the Middle East, which can be destroyed in one attack. However, Syria had more tanks in its initial attack than England and France had on the front line altogether. (12)
A common way of thinking – particularly in Western states – is that if Israel would simply agree to give up more land, the Middle East could reach peace and stability. People think that a Palestine state would be the answer to this problem. People fail to notice that all these areas, including Jerusalem, used to be part of the state of Israel. People also fail to notice the Balfour Declaration (1917) – approved by the League of Nations – according to which the currently disputed areas of Judea and Samaria (= the West Bank), Jerusalem and Gaza should be included in the Jewish state.
The problem lies deeper, however, and the problem is the existence of the state of Israel. Mere giving up of certain land areas is no solution to this problem because the Arabs refuse to recognise the existence of Israel and want to destroy it. Between 1948 and 1967 the West Bank, Gaza and Eastern Jerusalem were managed by the Arabs (the West bank and Eastern Jerusalem by Jordania and Gaza by Egypt) but this did not bring peace, because the Arabs wanted it all. There was no talk of establishing a Palestine state at that time even though establishing such a state would have been easy at that point. Instead, their plan was to destroy the entire state of Israel. This has been the ultimate reason for the problems in the Middle East
Arabs do fight against Arabs in the Middle East, and Muslims kill other Muslims all around the world because of differences relating to doctrine, but there is a shared enemy equally hated by the Sunni and the Shia. There is one enemy both fundamentalists and secularists hate. This enemy is Israel.
Even though it is true that the “Palestine issue” is a mere smoke screen – a mere excuse to hate the Jews and Israel and try to turn the world against them – it is also true that the radical Islamic world will never approve the existence of a Jewish state; no matter what kind of concessions it makes to achieve peace. In the Arab world, meetings and peace negotiations are only held as secondary battlefields in a war whose ultimate goal is destroying the people of Israel. (13)
Settlement construction is related to the same topic. Many outside states do not accept this issue and think that Israel has no right to build. They do not take into account the fact that, for example, Old Jerusalem, one of the subject of controversy, was the headquarters of the ancient state of Israel, and that the same city had a Jewish majority as early as the 19th century. (In 1896 this city had 45,420 inhabitants; 61.9% Jews, 19.3% Christians and 18.8% Muslims.). Third states and their leaders also do not want to accept that Israel is an independent state with the right to build within its own borders like any other state (This does not mean that some sort of negotiated solution to the current problems between Palestinians and Jews could not be sought). Many thus interfere in the internal affairs of the country. Such interference does not usually occur in other states, although they have similar problems.
Psalm 83 seems to describe the current situation when Israel is harassed and despised by neighbouring countries. Many Arabs today have a similar attitude – an anti-Israel attitude -- which becomes apparent in their speeches and propaganda. This Psalm is also like a description of the Charter of the PLO because it has had a similar statute regarding the state of Israel:
- (Ps 83:1-5) Keep not you silence, O God: hold not your peace, and be not still, O God.
2 For, see, your enemies make a tumult: and they that hate you have lifted up the head.
3 They have taken crafty counsel against your people, and consulted against your hidden ones.
4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against you:
Statements of Arab leaders. The same issue, the desire to annihilate the state of Israel, can be clearly found in the speeches of Arab leaders. The following is an example, a statement by a leader of the Hamas movement. Many representatives of these extreme groups do not accept Israel as a state; they want everything for themselves. This is the reason behind several armed attacks they made in Israeli territory. The same attacks also cause damage to themselves because Israel tries to track down these attackers. These attacks are one reason behind Israel’s recent construction of a protective wall. (“Israel has 46,000 guards protecting the country from extremist attacks, and many of them may now lose their jobs because of the wall.” / Newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, 24 June 2004.) When the situation and attitudes are like this it is difficult to speak of peace. Peace is impossible to achieve in the current climate.
Leader of Hamas Not Agreeing to Cease-fire
Goal Still Destruction of Israel
The Palestinian organization Hamas does not plan a cease-fire with Israel, said the leader of organization Mahmoud al-Zahar on Sunday. According to him, the organization still aims at destroying the state of Israel.
- A cease-fire is not being discussed. Our strategy is to release all Palestinian areas, he said, referring to the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel itself.
The statement given by Al-Zahar to the press in Gaza annulled the conciliatory statement of another leader of the Hamas. The leader of extreme organization of the West Bank, Hassan Jussef, said on Friday that the extreme organisation could accept the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and to Gaza and a cease-fire with Israel.
Hundreds of Israelites have died in the suicide attacks and armed attacks arranged by the Hamas. The Palestinian administration fears that the continuation of violence may disrupt the election of the successor of President Jasser Arafat in January. (Newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat 6 December 2004)
The same point and same attitude in the Arab countries is clearly illustrated in a short quote from the article Uusi antisemitismin aalto arabimaissa ("A new wave of anti-Semitism in Arab countries”, Etelä-SuomenSanomat, 28 September 2003). The article’s writer states the following about the present situation and general developments in Arab countries:
What is hiding behind the definition of new anti-Semitism and how widespread is it? Unlike in the classical anti-Semitism, which was targeted against the Jews as individuals and as a nation, the target of new anti-Semitism is also the Jewish state Israel. In extreme cases, new anti-Semitism questions Israel's right to exist. New anti-Semitism has indeed gained more and more momentum in the Islamic world and Arab countries.
The following newspaper article from a couple of years ago also addresses the same issue. It is about Iran, which, according to the Bible, will be one of the states that attack Jerusalem. It has been one of the states most powerfully opposing Israel.
Demonstrators in Iran demand the destruction for Israel
Tens of thousands of demonstrators proclaimed their support to the Palestinians in the capital of Iran, Teheran, on Friday. The demonstrators shouted slogans like ‘death to Israel’ and ‘death to the United States’.
Iran's president Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who just a few days ago publicly demanded Israel to ‘be wiped off the map’, was supported in the demonstration.
Demonstrations were arranged also elsewhere in Iran. The radical Muslims arranged the marches on the so-called Day of Jerusalem which in Iran is celebrated on the last Friday of the Muslims' month of fasting, Ramadan.
In Iran's opinion, Israel does not have the right to exist. The government of Teheran still denies American accusations that Iran supports armed Muslim groups who oppose the peace between the Arabs and Israel. Iran says that it gives these groups moral support only.
The demonstrators who marched in Teheran trampled flags of both Israel and the United States. Most of the leaders of Iran, including President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, took part in the march.
The statements of the leaders of Iran were immediately condemned by the European Union, the United States, and Russia. Israel demanded dismissing of Iran from the United Nations.
"Ahmadinejad speaks on behalf of all Iranians. We are all ready to die for Palestine,” said 25-year-old Mohammad Mirzayi, who is a member of organization Basiji that enforces social regulations such as the dressing code for women.
The support for the Palestinians is one of the foundations of Iran’s foreign policy. (Helsingin Sanomat, 29 October 2005)
THE DISPUTE OVER JERUSALEM. The dispute over Israel becomes apparent in the statements of Arab leaders. We mentioned above that the central issue of the last dispute would be Jerusalem and it is completely consistent with the present situation in the world, sessions of the UN, and with statements by Arab leaders. If we were to ask an expert's opinion about the most likely target of multinational military groups, he would probably suggest Jerusalem. He would certainly base his opinion, in part, on the current political situation. This city, even though there are thousands of other cities in the world, has become the central point of dispute and ‘a cup of drunkenness’ and a ‘very heavy rock for all nations’, as Zechariah prophesied.
- (Zec 12:1-3) The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, said the LORD, which stretches forth the heavens, and lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him.
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling to all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
The following quote refers to the same matter. It refers to Yasser Arafat's statements over the years that were related to Israel and Jerusalem. The second-to-last of the statements was given to his supporters in the mosque of Johannesburg only eight months after signing a peace treaty with Israel, which resulted in him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. He promised in his speech to carry on fighting despite the peace treaty. It indicates that the information we get in Western countries is often quite different from what leaders say to their own supporters behind closed doors.
However, these statements by Arafat are not exceptional in any way; similar statements have repeatedly been made by other Arab leaders and confirmed during international conferences. These leaders do not accept the fact that the city of Jerusalem is in Jewish possession. (Underlining added.)
- March 1970. The Washington Post. "The final goal of our resistance is the end of Israel and it cannot be compromised."
- February 1980. Caracas Venezuela, newspaper El Mundo. "The word peace, to us, means the destruction of Israel."
- May 1994. Johannesburg, South Africa. "This treaty (Oslo) does not mean to me any more than what Al-Hudaybiyah's agreement with the Qurayshs meant to Muhammad. Jihad – the holy war – will continue. You must understand that the goal of our battle is Jerusalem. It is not their capital but ours."
- September 1995. Jerusalem Post. "I swear by the name of Allah that the Palestinians are ready to sacrifice their last sons and daughters until the Palestinian flag waves above the walls, mosques, and churches of Jerusalem."(14)
The Bible describes these statements and attitudes. If we look at the Books of Zechariah, Revelation and Joel, we can find references to attacks on Jerusalem by the nations, and to Gentiles’ trampling of Jerusalem until the time of Gentiles is fulfilled (Jesus' words describing the day of the Gentiles have not yet been fulfilled wholly. Read Luke 21:24).
An observation that we can make from the last of these Bible passages (Joel 3) is the reference to a ‘holy war’ (in the Finnish version, Joel 3:9), which is completely in accordance with the Muslim way of thinking. This reference may well refer to Muslims because they often use this expression and because the Islamic world is already now very anti-Israel. In the same verses there are also references to Jerusalem, the Diaspora of the nation, and the Sun and Moon being darkened, which might refer to a nuclear war:
- (Rev 11:1,2) And there was given me a reed like to a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
- (Zec 13:8-14:3,16) And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, said the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.
9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
1 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the middle of you.
2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
- (Joel 3:1,2, 9-16) For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
9 Proclaim you this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:
10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all you heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause your mighty ones to come down, O LORD.
12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
13 Put you in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
ISLAM AND ISRAEL. One influence on anti-Israel attitude is Islam. Muslims often feel deep anger towards this country. Muslims do not believe in the Bible but in the victory of Islam and they are almost unanimous in their negative attitude towards Israel. It is impossible for them to bless this country and the citizens of Israel (Num 6:22 27, Gen 12:3). If Israel were a Muslim state there would be no such problem – as things are, there is a problem. Muslims believe that if an area has once been ruled by Islam (Dar ul salaam = a land/area of peace), it is always the property of Islam and must thus be reconquered. This explains why Israel has always been a major insult to Muslim states.
Many Muslims are raised to hate Israel. Maybe the best evidence that children and young people are being led astray is found in the fact that suicide attacks are idealized. They are told as little children that dying in the holy war on behalf of Allah -- exploding themselves along with a few others -- is heroic and admirable. They are provoked to do this with the promise of a better place in heaven where 72 dark-eyed lovely virgins and other pleasures of paradise await every martyr. The prerequisite is that they must also take others to death. As taught by Islam, if they die alone they will lose these virgins.
There is not much hope for peace in such circumstances. As long as Islam controls Arabs and their way of thinking, it is completely impossible because they cannot accept Israel as a state and cannot accept its existence. So they will never give up the idea that this area should be under Islamic control. Tämä on avainsyy, miksi konflikti jatkuu. Jos Israel olisi Jordanian ja Syyrian kaltainen muslimivaltio, ei muslimeille tuottaisi vaikeuksia hyväksyä sitä.
Perhaps it is time now to listen to what the main actors on the Middle Eastern stage have to say and believe their words for real. Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has sometimes been called a ‘moderate’ leader of Iran, compressed the causes of the crisis into a few sentences: "All the problems of our region are caused by only one reason; the infidel Jews and imperialistic Westerners penetrating Dar al Islam. Each political dispute, every border conflict and all internal conflicts arise from UMMA's inability to faithfully begin a successful Jihad. The everlasting battle between Ishmael and Isaac cannot come to an end before one or the other has been perfectly destroyed." (15)
However, it is interesting to note that the Koran, the holy book of Islam, teaches that the Holy Land belongs to Israel, and that they are elected. Thus, many Muslims deny their own holy book:
Moses said unto his nation: "My nation, remember the mercy, which God showed you when he set prophets among you, made kings from you and gave for you such, what he has not given to anybody else. My nation, go to the holy land, which God has regulated for you, don't turn away, that you wouldn't be ruined." (5:20,21)
We led the Israelites over the sea, and pharaoh with his troops followed them because of his wickedness and his hostility, until he was engulfed by the waves. Then he said: "I believe that there is no other god other than the one whom the Israelites believe in, and I too submit to him."... We led the Israelites to live in the blessed land and we fed them with all good, but they began arguing when they found out. God will solve their dispute on the day of the resurrection. (10:90 93)
After that, we said to the Israelites: "Settle down to live in this land, and when the last moment comes, we will bring you all together before us." (17:104)
This took place, for we wanted to let the Israelites inherit the land. (26:59)
Israelites, remember my mercy that I showed you, when I chose you from among the nations. (2:47)
We gave the Israelites the Book, wisdom and prophecy, we fed them with all good, we chose them from among all people (45:16)
ISRAEL SHOULD BE BLESSED. From studying the Bible it is clear that it is right to bless Israel and the Jews. God’s promise to Abraham was ”And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 12:3). Jacob was later given a similar promise: ”cursed be every one that curses you, and blessed be he that blesses you." (Gen 27:29). Later, God renewed the same promise, and included the entire people of Israel by saying through Balaam: ”Blessed is he that blesses you, and cursed is he that curses you" (Num 24:9). These words still hold true: if we turn against Israel and the Jews, we may also turn against God.
Blessing Israel does not mean agreeing with every Israeli political transfer or armed action, nor does it mean focusing too much on humanitarian work, political controversy, or even an earthly temple building (such may be built in Jerusalem but this would practically mean putting aside the work of Jesus Christ and returning to the old Covenant; the Congregation itself is the temple of God, see 1 Cor 6:19). Instead, it means, above all, praying for the people of Israel. It is all about being obedient, not about having an emotional attitude; it is about whether or not we do what God wants us to do. God has not forsaken His people and His plans for them; instead, He plans to realise his plan of rescue in them. If we are anti-Semitic – which has often occurred in the history of the church – we have badly gone astray ourselves.
- (Rom 11:1-5,25-29) I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God has not cast away his people which he foreknew. Know you not what the scripture said of Elias? how he makes intercession to God against Israel saying,
3 Lord, they have killed your prophets, and dig down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what said the answer of God to him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
25 For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
NOT AGAINST THE ARABS. Having a blessing attitude towards Israel and Jews does not mean that we should have a hostile attitude towards Arabs and Palestinians, to which some have drifted. They bless Israel but don’t care about the Arabs. People who hate Jews and people who hate Arabs are thus both wrong.
- (1 John 2:9) He that said he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now.
- (1 John 4:20,21) If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.
The biblically correct attitude to hold regarding Arabs and Palestinians is one of praying and blessing. They need our prayers, spiritual awakening and friendship such as the Jews. Brother Andreas wrote about wrongful attitudes we may have. He had been in contact with Hamas and the Palestine leaders, and stressed the importance of expressing friendship when reaching out to them.
What had I learned? There were some important issues. I voiced one of them: "There are no terrorists – there are only people who need Jesus Christ.”
Johan had heard me speak around these lines often but it was a shock to my American friend. “I’m serious,” I said. “If I consider them enemies, how could I reach them? I have often said that if you see a terrorist with a weapon in his hand, go to him and put your arm around him so that he cannot shoot you. As long as we consider anyone – whether it is a Muslim, a communist or a terrorist – an enemy, God’s love cannot flow through us and reach them. We all must make a choice. I can go to the terrorists and love them so that they will reach the Kingdom. As soon as I start to love them, they cease to be my enemies. You do not hate your friends.”
Al asked, “So who is the enemy then?”
“The devil! Never a human being!”
As Al considered this radical and biblical idea, I gave him another lesson: “Anyone who can be reached can also be atoned to Jesus Christ. I believe that my work has proven this.” I further explained myself, “Hamas can be reached. Anyone could have gone to meet the men at Marj al-Zohor. I did what Jesus did – I met them when they were in need. When they are sick, I am with them. When they are in the hospital, I am with them. How else could they learn to know Jesus? They can meet Jesus only if someone in whom He lives goes to them.”(16)
1. Josephus: Wars of the Jews
2. Josephus: Wars of the Jews, 126.96.36.1991.
3. Josephus: Wars of the Jews, 188.8.131.520.
4.Citation from the book "100 merkkiä Jeesuksen tulemuksesta", Ensio Lehtonen / Gordon Lindsay, p. 111
5.Citation from the book "Israel polttopisteessä", Jukka Riippa, p. 35
6.Citation from the book "Israel polttopisteessä", Jukka Riippa, p. 109
7. Hal Lindsey: 1948 Vuosi, jolloin loppu alkoi, p. 87
8. Citation from the book "Israel polttopisteessä", Jukka Riippa, p. 124
9. Pekka Sartola: Totuutena valhe, p. 279, 282
10. David Dolan, Pyhä sota (HOLY WAR FOR THE PROMISED LAND), p. 186
11. Golda Meir: Elämäni
12. Lance Lambert, Taistelu Israelista (BATTLE FOR ISRAEL), p.9,13
13. Hal Lindsey: Tule Herra Jeesus (The Final Battle by Hal Lindsey), p. 51,52
14. Citation from the book "Harmagedon", PekkaSartola, p. 155
15. Citation from the book Tule Herra Jeesus (The Final Battle by Hal Lindsey), p. 53
16. Brother Andreas: Veljiä vahvistamassa, p. 227
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!