"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Roots of Israel's Conflict with the Palestinians

If you are a person bewildered by the animosity between Arabs and Jews, and if you scratch your head trying to understand the centuries-long conflict between Palestinians and Israelis – a bitter fight over a claim both make on a piece of land called Israel (if you are an Israeli) and Palestine (if you are an Arab), then I would encourage you to read this short summary of the Arab/Israeli conflict. 

The next few minutes of reading might save you from a lifetime of confusion.

In 2000 B.C., a young man named Abram was “called by God” out of the land of Ur (Babylon) to a land that God promised to give “to your descendants, from Egypt to the Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18-21). This land, called the Promised Land, was already inhabited by the Canaanite people, but God promised Abraham that He would give him this land. Over 500 years later, under Joshua's leadership, the descendants of Abraham drove the Canaanites from their land and established the new nation called Israel.

What Happened to the Canaanites?

The Canaanites got into ships and left the land of Israel. The evidence is clear that the Canaanites left Israel for North Africa.  

Close to the Pillars of Hercules (e.g., Gibraltar), on the south side or African side of the Mediterranean, the vanquished Canaanite refugees built two cities:

"They [the Canaanites] built THE CITY OF TINGE AND TANGER IN NUMIDIA, where were two pillars of white stone, placed near to a great fountain, in which, in the Phoenician tongue, was engraved: WE ARE CANAANITES, WHOM JOSHUA THE THIEF CHASED AWAY" (Relations of the World and the Religions Observed in All Ages, Samuel Purchas, Book I, Chapter XVIII, p.85)

In The Complete Works of Josephus, translated by William Whiston, there is a footnote on page 110 that corroborates the Canaanites went to North Africa:
Moses Chorenensis sets down the FAMOUS INSCRIPTION AT TANGIER [TANGER] concerning the old CANAANITES driven out of Canaan by Joshua thus:
"We are those exiles that were governors of the Canaanites, but have been driven away by Joshua the robber, AND ARE COME TO INHABIT HERE'." (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids. 1988)
In time these inhabitants of Northern Africa became known as Berbers and Moors.

From the city of Numidia, the Canaanites eventually made it across the Straits of Gibraltar and reached as far north as Scandinavia and the British Isles. In these countries, and in Europe in general, the Canaanites have left evidence of their existence over large land areas. They are known to anthropologists as the "Beaker People."

Meanwhile, Back in Israel

After 400 years, the nation of Israel united under kings. First Saul, then David, then Solomon.

The nation of Israel split in 931 B.C. over a dispute concerning taxes. As a result, 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel composed “the northern Kingdom of Israel” with their capital in Samaria. Only two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) made up “the southern Kingdom called Judah.”

In 722 B.C., the northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians, whose capital was Ninevah. The wicked Assyrians took captive the men of the 10 tribes of the north (after that known as “The 10 Lost Tribes”) and forced pagans to move to northern Israel and intermarry with the remaining Israeli women.
The “half-breed’ descendants of Israeli women and pagan men came to be known as “The Samaritans.”

The southern kingdom of Judah had help from God and successfully resisted the Assyrians. Therefore, it is only AFTER 722 B.C. that the name “Jew” comes into existence, an abbreviation of “Judah” or “Judeans” (e.g., people from Judah). Also, since the northern kingdom of Israel was wiped out after the Assyrian invasion, after 722 B.C., the kingdom of Judah would often go by the ancient name Israel.

The Jews stayed in the land God had given them until 586 B.C., when a new world empire – Babylon – conquered the Jews and took them into Babylonian captivity. Then, when the Persian Empire defeated the Babylonians and conquered the city of Babylon in 539 B.C., the Jews were allowed to return to their land of Israel.

The Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, the Temple and re-instituted the sacrificial system. During their Babylonian captivity, they learned how to build synagogues since they had no access to the Temple. In addition, they had learned Aramaic, the business language of the known world. For the next five centuries, until the coming of Jesus Christ, the Jews remained in their land, building a nation and seeing the rise of various Jewish religious sects, including the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These years are the years “between the Testaments” (e.g., between the Old Testament and the New Testament). During this time, Persia was conquered by the Grecian Empire, and then the Greeks were conquered by the Roman empire.

Rome Rules the World

Around the time Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago, Rome ruled the world. The Romans began having trouble with that portion of the empire called Israel. The natives of Israel, called “Jews” (e.g., short for “Judeans” or people who descended from the family or tribe of Judah), were expecting a coming Messiah who would lead their little country to global prominence. The Jews were often resisted Roman rule, and they were in the habit of assembling unlawfully, protesting regularly, and arguing forcefully against Roman rule.
  
The Roman emperor raised a wary eye against the Jews and their seditious ways. However, knowing that Rome was threatened by any claim of a Jewish Messiah, Jewish religious leaders used Rome’s fears for their own advantage to thwart the influence of a young Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. Jewish religious leaders brought Jesus before the Roman governor Pilate and claimed that “This man says he is the Messiah, the King of the Jews!” Pilate acquiesced to the Jewish demand that Rome crucify him who dared to claim himself “King of the Jews.”

Around four decades after Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross, a new Roman emperor could no longer ignore the ever-increasing Jewish rebellion against Rome. More Roman soldiers were tied up in Israel fighting sedition than anywhere else in the world, and the Roman emperor’s patience ran out. He needed his troops elsewhere, so he decided to handle the Jews once and for all. Nobody knows why the Roman emperor didn’t just kill the Jews, possibly because he was too superstitious to utterly obliterate them, fearing an offense against the gods.

Instead of killing the Jews, the Roman emperor decided to forcibly remove the Jews from their land using Roman legionnaires and relocating them to the far-flung corners of the Roman empire. In America during the 1820s, the American empire did the same thing to the native Americans, in a forced relocation to “Indian Land” (Oklahoma) that we call “The Trail of Tears.” The Romans forcibly relocated the Jews in a long, sad journey that Jewish history calls the diaspora. The word diaspora comes from Greek and means “scattering.” We get our English word dispersion from this Greek word. The diaspora begins in A.D. 70.

Judea Becomes Philistia (Palestine)

Judea (Iudaea) was the Roman name for the Land of Israel during the heyday of the Roman Empire. This meant not only the area called Judea in Israel today (the West Bank), it also included the whole area ruled and/or chiefly inhabited by Jews. We can see this in Latin and Greek writes of that period like Pliny, Suetonius, Tacitus in Latin, Plutarch, and the geographers Strabo and Ptolemy in Greek. Judea stretched along both sides of the Jordan and included, besides Judea proper, most of the coastal plain, Samaria, most of the Galilee, the Golan Heights of today, and considerable land to the east of there. The Romans called this land Iudaea, a translation of the Hebrew Judah.  

However, to spite the Jews, after the Diaspora, the Romans changed the land of the Jews Palestinia (Palestine) in honor of the Philistia people (Canaanites) that were the mortal enemies of the Jews before Abraham. Thus, Palestine was a word Romans used to spite the Jews.

In the Jews’ absence from their former homeland beginning in A.D. 70, a now-empty patch of beachfront real estate on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea begins to fill up with people from Arabia. The Arabs migrate slowly to the former land called Israel. It was never their land in the beginning.  And there is no such thing as Palestinian people. It’s Arab people in the land of Israel, a land that the Romans began calling Palestine.

After the diaspora in A.D. 70, the Jews lived in little communities worldwide, but especially in Europe. This is because the Romans had scattered these Jewish people all over the Roman empire, and Europe is where most of the Roman Empire was located at the beginning of the diaspora.

Rather than Jewish culture and religion coming to an end through the diaspora, this forced exile from their homeland became a defining event in Jewish history

The diaspora became a crucial part of the Jewish heritage and tradition, a permanent fixture of their rituals. It soon became prominent within their holy commentary on Scriptures, a book called the Talmud. For the past two thousand years, in thousands of little communities worldwide, Jewish fathers have passed to their sons,  and rabbis have passed to their synagogue congregations, the importance of remembering the diaspora.

There is no better example of the permanence of Israel culture than the contemporary existence of the Hebrew language, the same language Moses, David, Solomon, and all the Jewish people have spoken for over 5,000 years. Latin, the language of the Romans, is the basis for French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. But nobody speaks Latin anymore. Only the Roman Catholic Church uses it in church services. People don’t speak it. Groups of medical students worldwide study it for their medical classes, but Latin is not a language of conversation.

Language Represents a Culture.

After being scattered by the Romans, the Jews learned the local languages and became a part of the local population. However, the rabbis kept the Hebrew language alive, and the Jews used the language in their worship. Just as Christian monks kept knowledge and literacy alive through the Dark Ages, the rabbis used Hebrew in synagogue services. They required all Jews to learn at least enough to actively participate in worship.

From the mid-1500s until well into the current century, the dominant pattern in the world was European colonialism. First, the Spanish, then Dutch, and finally the British were the preeminent powers in the world -- challenged with varying degrees of success by the French, Germans, and Italians. The Jews stayed in the background, minding their own business.

No matter where the Jews settled, they were seen as just a little bit on the outside by their different religion, their "secret" language of Hebrew, and even their ethnicity.

Since the Jews were mostly prevented from holding public office, becoming military leaders, or even entering institutions of higher learning. As a result, they'd entered the only field left open to them: business.

As it turned out, they'd seemed to have a knack for it, too: by the late nineteenth century, Jews in Europe were widely perceived as rich, mostly because many of them had entered jewelry and banking, being forced out of politics and government.

About this time, a pro-Jewish political movement called Zionism arose in Europe. Its purpose was "to return the Jews to their rightful historical homeland.”

Here’s Where It Gets Complicated

For the past two thousand years, over 75 generations of Arabs have lived and died on that Eastern Mediterranean soil that the Arabs now called Palestine. So naturally, these Arabs figured that they had a bit more right to determine who was going to live on what was now their homeland than a bunch of European nations, which had still been a bunch of wild barbarian tribes when the Romans had booted the Jews out in the first place (the following is an excellent summary from an anonymous writer at http://www.wwco.com/religion/israel.php).

Why the Arabs Hate the Jews

One of those wild barbarian tribes, now calling itself the British, was perhaps a bit influenced in its thinking by Zionist arguments and the idea that European Jewry was a rich and influential group one would do well to have one's side. Besides, the British Empire was at the height of its power and glory: India was the jewel in its crown about which books by Rudyard Kipling were being written, Sherlock Holmes was stalking the streets of London, Stanley and Livingston were making their way around Africa, and Queen Victoria was on the throne.

The sun never set upon the British Empire, she had the largest and most influential navy in the world, and by George, she'd do whatever the heck she bloody wanted to -- and without any guff from any bleeding Arab beggars! Besides, the whole point was academic: Palestine had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire (Turkish Muslims) for centuries, so the Arabs living along the Eastern Mediterranean had no say about anything anyway.

What harm would it do, then, to issue a meaningless policy statement to win the favor, support, and financial attention of the European Jews? So it was that British Foreign Minister Lord Balfour issued the appropriately-named Balfour Declaration in support of an independent Jewish homeland located in Palestine.

The Jews loved it, of course, but it remained just that -- a meaningless policy statement. It was certainly forgotten a couple of decades later, in 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by an anarchist in Sarajevo. The French, Germans, and Russians mobilized their troops and, before anyone knew what had happened, a million mothers' sons were charging out of their trenches only to cough their lungs up from the mustard gas or be mown down by machine-gun fire. The Great War, the War to End All Wars, had begun.

Trench warfare held the war at a stalemate in Europe for the better part of four years. In charge of the "Southern Front," British General George Allenby was under pressure from his superiors at the War Office in London for some progress against the Ottoman Empire, a British enemy in the war and the power that controlled the Middle East as it had for centuries. By manipulating Arab tribesmen into fighting the Turks in exchange for tentative implications of Arab independence, Allenby ensured that the Middle East was British-held territory by the end of the war.

The League of Nations

Immediately after the war, the newly-created League of Nations, really just an old boys club of the same old European colonialist powers, legitimized continued occupation of territory captured by the victors in the war by ceding areas to their victorious occupying forces as "mandates." The idea was that the "big brother" nation would prepare the mandated area for eventual independence. However, in practice, it was colonialism by any other name... which still smelled just as bad.

Britain got the League of Nations mandate for the Middle East, which included Palestine. Zionist groups and Jews worldwide immediately began pressuring the British to live up to the promises they'd made decades earlier in the Balfour Declaration. If they did nothing, the Jews would accuse them of going back on their word, but if they started airlifting massive numbers of Jews into Palestine, the local Arabs would riot. So they tried to go to the middle ground and brought in a slow trickle by sea.

This went on for nearly thirty years while the British controlled the area, and the Arabs certainly did riot more than a few times. But, nevertheless, the population of Jewish immigrants slowly swelled, living in an uneasy peace with the Arabs. Then one day, a man with a severe little mustache started raving about how the Jews had ruined his country, the rest of Europe, and the world besides. The joke was on him, of course; Adolf didn't realize that he himself had Jewish blood, but his countrymen bought it hook, line and sinker, and the Second World War was on.

During the war, Palestine remained under British control, never seriously threatened by the massive tank battles in the North African desert between British General Bernard Montgomery and German Field Marshal Erwin 'The Desert Fox' Rommel. At war's end, though, the world was a very different place. All the great powers of Europe were totally tapped out, shattered, and economically devastated. Even England, which had resisted the invasion, had taken a beating from German bombs.

Suddenly only one country had a healthy economy. Suddenly only one country had no domestic damage at all from the war. Suddenly only one country had the largest and most powerful navy globally, and it wasn't England anymore. Suddenly only one country had the atomic bomb. Suddenly only one country had the undivided attention of every other country in the world, was calling the shots, could do whatever it wanted to, and had the force to back up its foreign policy initiatives.

The United States started pressuring all former colonial powers to grant independence to their colonies. Her moral high ground for doing this was that she herself had been a colony and had had to fight for her independence, so she sympathized with other colonies that wanted independence. 

A more likely reason for doing this is that since colonies trade exclusively with their host countries, excluding other nations, the U.S. wanted to get those host countries out of those colonies as quickly as possible so that she could get access and start selling Coca-Cola and other fine American products.

They grumbled, but Britain and the other former colonial powers of Europe started vacating their colonies rapidly, not only because the United States was pressuring them to but also because they could no longer spare the troops, funds, or resources to maintain those colonies when so much reconstruction needed to take place back in their home countries. Amongst others, Britain was making plans to vacate its League of Nations mandates in the Middle East -- including Palestine.

Modern Zionism

The world had been shocked, sickened, and horrified beyond description when it had seen photographs and newsreels of the ghastly 'final solution' of the NazisConcentration camps liberated by the Americans had yielded mass gravespoison-gas showersnon-stop crematoria, and living skeletons with haunted eyes. The carnage was so far beyond anything ever seen before that even conventional language did not have a word for it. So then, finally, a new word was created to describe it: genocide.

No one could conceive of anything that anyone could ever have done to deserve such a fate. The hearts of everyone on Earth went out to the Jews. Everyone felt guilty for not having stopped Hitler sooner before six million Jews had gone to their deaths. Filled with shock, compassion, guilt, shame, remorse, and regret, the world of 1945 could deny the Jews nothing.

The British were rapidly vacating the land of Palestine, the Jewish homeland of two thousand years ago. Many Jews had emigrated there during the last thirty years. Many European Jews were wandering around the continent as "Displaced Persons," sole survivors of their families or villages with nowhere to go. The world felt shamed and wanted to "do something for the Jews" to "make up" for what had happened. Some Jews themselves and other Zionists were clamoring about the Balfour Declaration, made by the British in a very different world over fifty years and two world wars ago.

Almost before the British were out of Palestine, the United States stepped in and declared that the area would again be the Jewish homeland. The Americans were trying not only to make up for the Second World War but also to correct an ancient historical wrong. As a result, huge waves of Jewish immigrants flocked to their ancient ancestral homeland.

As these European "displaced persons" found a home once again, they created a whole new flood of "displaced persons" -- Arabs whose umpteenth great-grandfather had farmed the same land 75 generations ago, forced to leave because a newly-arrived European Jew had become the new owner. These Arabs, today called the Palestinians, left in droves.

It took two years from the war's end for the British to finish vacating and for the brief period of American assistance with Jewish immigration to conclude. Jews worldwide had been delighted with the idea; those who didn't emigrate to live there were quite generous financially. The United States gave much financial and military assistance so that in 1947 the area known as Palestine for two thousand years declared itself the state of Israel.

The brand-new state was promptly attacked at the same time by several of its outraged Arab neighbors. They themselves had been under the boot of the Ottomans for centuries, then had had to endure the British, but now that the entire Middle East had looked as though it were finally going to be free and self-determining, here had come the meddling Americans to eject the Palestinians —brother Arabs— and move Jews in their place!

Aside from this strange and offensive new outpost, there were no Jews for thousands of miles around — only Arabs. For the Arabs, it was like surgically transplanting a tuft of blond hair onto a head full of black. They saw these Jews sitting proudly on land that had been Arab land for two thousand years, while the 'rightful' Palestinian-Arab owners sat shivering in refugee camps just outside the borders of the new state. Outraged and offended, they attacked with their combined military force.

Unfortunately for the Arab states that attacked in 1947, U.S. weapons and training provided to the Israeli military allowed Israel to trounce them. In other Arab-Israeli conflicts (1956, 1967, and 1973), almost always started by the Arabs, the same has been the result: one was called the Six-Day War because that's all the time it took the Israelis to win, while another was called the Yom Kippur War because the Arabs tried to win by surprise-attacking on the holiest Jewish day.

The previous Palestinian inhabitants haven't been sitting idly in their refugee camps on Israel's borders for fifty years, while fellow Arabs from other Arab countries have been fighting and dying in attempts to win back their land for them. So the Palestinians formed the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), a terrorist group that has been bombing Israel and conducting other terrorist raids on her for decades.

For many years now, Yasser Arafat has been the leader of the PLO, and thus Public Enemy Number One of the Israeli state. He was controversial in the 1980s for once wearing his customary pistol on a visit to the Pope and because the United States didn't want to grant him a visa to enter the U.S. so he could speak at the United Nations.

The first real progress in the Arab-Israeli situation was President Carter, who got Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to sign a peace treaty. We later found out what ordinary Arabs thought of when some of Sadat's own people assassinated him as he stood on the reviewing stand during a parade.

The fact that Israel recently allowed the Gaza Strip to become an 'autonomous Arab zone' with its own police force and Yasser Arafat (Israel's Public Enemy Number One), of all people, as its leader, is probably the most encouraging move towards peace since the Americans started the whole mess in the 1940s. But, of course, we found out what ordinary Israelis thought of that when a former member of his own security forces assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the guy who made the Gaza Strip thing possible, as he moved through a crowded public square a few months ago.

The Oslo Agreement

Since historic agreements signed in Oslo, Norway, in September of 1993 between the Israelis and the PLO set the Gaza Strip aside for the Palestinians, the PLO and its leader have been kept busy with the headaches of self-rule. Those Palestinians and other Arabs who felt that this arrangement was not good enough and still more for which Israel must answer felt that the PLO had gone soft and sold out; they became dissatisfied with the PLO as the representative of their interests.

Extreme anti-Israelis formed a group called Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Islamic force composed of Palestinians and other sympathetic Arabs. Backed by the sympathetic Islamic countries of Iran and Syria, since the 1993 Oslo accords, Hezbollah has set up shop in Israel's chaotic bordering neighbor to the North, Lebanon, which has been paralyzed for decades by civil war.

The situation in Lebanon is so fractious and its government so weak that Hezbollah has actually taken over the running of schools and hospitals in some areas, gaining its popular support amongst some Lebanese. Its primary purpose for existence being to inflict harm upon Israel; however, in April 1996, Hezbollah began raining fire down upon its hated enemy in the form of Katoushka rockets.

Surrounded as it is by hostile neighbors who would prefer to see the blood of all its citizens running through the sands, Israel has perhaps understandably developed a 'massive retaliation policy over the years. In addition, to guerrilla attacks by the Egyptian-backed Palestinian terrorist group fedayeen ("self-sacrificers," the predecessor of the PLO and Hezbollah) in the 1950s, Israel invaded Egyptian army posts in the dead of night, shooting hundreds of Egyptian troops as they slept and on 29 October 1956 actually invaded Egypt herself, taking the entire Sinai Peninsula from her.

In Israel's belief that she must show a tough face to deter aggression, she has not hesitated even to operate far outside her home region. On 3 July 1976, she reacted to the hijacking of an airplane containing her Olympic team by storming the plane with a massive assault force as it sat on an airport runway in Entebbe, Uganda, a country well into Africa and decidedly not in Israel's home region, the Middle East. Israel had refused to negotiate or even talk to the hijackers, it attacked without regard to casualties, and it took no prisoners. The message was clear: don't mess with us.

When terrorists attacked Israel from bases in Southern Lebanon in March of 1978, Israel responded by invading Lebanon. Likewise, when Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service, learned in 1981 that its neighboring country of Iraq (with its new leader Saddam Hussein) had an atomic reactor near its capital city of Baghdad that would enable it to manufacture nuclear weapons, Israeli jets invaded Iraqi airspace, flew on over to Baghdad one fine day and blew the atomic reactor to Kingdom Come.

When Israel's ambassador to Great Britain was wounded in a PLO terrorist attack on the streets of London —just one man, mind you— Israel responded by launching a massive, all-out, coordinated land, sea, and air attack against PLO bases in Lebanon on 6 June 1982. By 14 June, they had the PLO trapped and surrounded in Lebanon's capital city of Beirut and were pummeling them into oblivion with the round-the-clock bombing.

If Ronnie Ray-gun hadn't yanked on the leash of his Israeli pit bull and forced him to wait while the United States Navy evacuated what was left of the PLO from Beirut, the Israelis almost certainly would've done there and then to the Palestinians what the Romans hadn't done to the Jews almost two thousand years earlier. In any case, the message "don't mess with us" was once again clear.

Israel's Right to Exist

With the election of Yitzhak Rabin as Israeli prime minister in 1992 on a campaign of peace and reconciliation with Israel's Arab neighbors, it looked as though perhaps such stiff reprisals might no longer be necessary. In the historic Oslo accords of 1993, the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist, and Israel acknowledged the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians. The Gaza Strip and the West bank of the Jordan River were designated as Palestinian homelands, and Israel and Jordan (the country) signed a treaty ending their 46-year state of war in 1994. Things were really looking up.

A few months ago, however, we found out what at least some ordinary Israelis thought of all this 'peace with the Arabs' stuff when a former member of his own security forces assassinated Rabin as he moved through a crowded public square. Shimon Peres became Israel's new prime minister and tried to continue as best he could his predecessor's policies of peace and reconciliation with Arabs.

When the extreme Palestinian-Arab Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group Hezbollah started firing salvos of deadly Katoushka rockets at Israel from its guerrilla bases in Lebanon in April of 1996, frightened, disappointed Israelis began to cry loudly to their government that perhaps those ingrate Arabs would only take advantage of peace and reconciliation, would only understand the language of force. Perhaps, some said, the only sure policy for security was the old 'massive retaliation.'

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, facing an upcoming election and terrorist rockets raining fire down on those who would be deciding whether or not to vote him into office again, didn't take long to decide. On Thursday, 11 April 1996, Israeli ground-based planes and helicopter gunships operating from navy vessels in the Mediterranean launched a massive, non-stop bombing assault on Lebanon.

On Wednesday, 24 April 1996, the Israeli bombing is still going full-force, but Hezbollah's rocket attacks from Israel against Lebanon remain unabated. The Israelis, who have code-named their bombing campaign "Operation Grapes of Wrath," pledge to continue it until Hezbollah's rocket attacks cease. In years to come, it may be Israel who will taste the sour grapes, since its military offensive in the first six short days already produced 800,000 homeless refugees in Lebanon -- many of whom will probably become embittered towards Israel and provide excellent new recruits for Hezbollah.

On Monday, 15 April 1996, the United Nations Security Council in New York spent the entire day debating the situation but, in the end, could reach no decisions. Finally, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Madeline Albright made it clear that the U.S. position was that Israel's actions were appropriate and justifiable and implied rather obviously that the U.S. would use its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block any punitive measures the council might attempt.

The reactions of Syria and Iran, the two Islamic Arab countries which helped establish Hezbollah in the first place and continue to fund and supply her, have been no surprise: they have loudly decried that Israel is committing a monstrous crime against humanity and must be stopped. Israel, for its part, has pointed out that both Hitler and Hezbollah launched attacks trying to kill Jews and reminds the international community what the countries of the world felt was necessary to do about Hitler. Yet, with all this rhetoric, the average confused bystander surely must be wondering what to believe.

Summary

Two thousand years ago, the Romans committed a great wrong against the Jewish people. One hundred years ago, the British made a promise that that wrong would be made right. Fifty years ago, after the Germans committed another great wrong against the Jewish people, the Americans tried to make up for it by honoring England's promise. But, unfortunately, in the process, they committed a great wrong against the Palestinians, who even today still sit shivering in their refugee camps.

The Palestinian Arabs hate the Jews for taking away their homes. The rest of the Arabs hate the Jews for taking away the homes of their brethren. Finally, all the Arabs hate the Americans for what they did to the Palestinians. So now today, in a region consisting of dozens of Muslim countries twice as wide as the United States, stretching from Morocco on the West coast of North Africa to Pakistan on the Indian Subcontinent, everyone speaks a form of Arabic, obeys Islamic law, and worships a single god most recently revealed to him by Muhammad the last Prophet...

...everyone, that is, except for those living on one tiny little strip of land, forty-seven miles long. For two thousand years, the people there also spoke Arabic, obeyed Islamic law, and worshipped the god most recently revealed by Muhammad. However, those people are shivering in camps on the borders of what used to be their land. Today the people on that strip of the land speak Hebrew, follow the Talmudic law, and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, and Sarah.

It has been suggested that there are historical parallels between the Arab-Israeli situation and the plight of the native inhabitants of North America (Native Americans / American Indians). However, very few people suggest that everyone whose ancestors came to North America after A.D. 1500 should go back where they came from so that the Native Americans can have their lands back. 

Why, then, was Palestine "returned" to the Jews? 

We were all taught as children that two wrongs don't make a right, so why did the U.S. try to right a two-thousand-year-old historical wrong by wronging the Palestinians?

Such speculation, however, is merely crying over historically spilled milk: wouldn't removing the Israelis yet again, or blasting them out of existence as the Arabs tried so many times to do, simply be more of the same? 

Viewing the Middle East as it is today, should we not seek to learn from past mistakes? 

Shouldn't we seek to learn not only from the mistakes of the Romans and the Nazis but also from the mistakes we as Americans made a mere half-century ago when we sought to offer a quick fix to someone else's problems? 

Good intentions are not enough; surely only listening to and understanding the problems of those who must LIVE there and then giving help if requested will finally bring peace. 

35 comments:

Ruth said...

The verb tenses and timeline descriptions in the sections “Modern Zionism” and “Israel's Right to Exist” make it obvious that they were copied from contemporaneous sources from those times, but I don’t see any attribution to another author. What were your sources for this post?

Wade Burleson said...

Ruth, you must have missed the sentence under the heading THIS IS WHERE IT GETS COMPLICATED.

"The following is an excellent summary from an anonymous writer at http://www.wwco.com/religion/israel.php)."

Christiane said...

The story of Abram (God changed his name to 'Abraham') is seminal to a very complex relationship between the descendants of Abraham's two sons, born of different mothers: Isaac, and Ishmael, the son a Abraham from whom the desert peoples have descended.

I am drawn to this story because of how beautifully and compassionately it is told in the sacred Scriptures from the time of the weeping of Hagar to the time of the funeral of their father, Abraham, the two brothers were reconciled in peace.

Here are some of the Scriptures that I find so moving:

"11 Now this matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son Ishmael. 12But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to everything that Sarah tells you, for through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned. 13But I will also make a nation of the slave woman’s son, because he is your offspring.”

14 Early in the morning, Abraham got up, took bread and a skin of water, put them on Hagar’s shoulders, and sent her away with the boy. She left and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. 15When the water in the skin was gone, she left the boy under one of the bushes. 16Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she said, “I cannot bear to watch the boy die!” And as she sat nearby, she lifted up her voice and wept.

17Then God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “What is wrong, Hagar? Do not be afraid, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he lies. 18Get up, lift up the boy, and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

20And God was with the boy . . . " (from GENESIS, chapter 21)


AND, this:


"8And Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. 9Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, 10the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth; there Abraham was buried with Sarah his wife. 11And it came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi.
Descendants of Ishmael: 12Now these are the records of the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid, bore to Abraham; 13and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the first-born of Ishmael, and Kedar and Adbeel and Mibsam 14and Mishma and Dumah and Massa, 15Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps; twelve princes according to their tribes. 17And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. 18And they settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria . . . (from GENESIS, chapter 25)

My point is that the two brothers were re-united at the grave of their father Abraham and that we are told of this FOR SOME REASON in sacred Scripture. I do not know WHY I take comfort in this story, except that there is in it some sense of 'family' in spite of all the difficulties that separated the brothers, and there is some sense of 'healing' as Isaac and Ishmael meet as brothers once more over the grave of their father whom they honor at his passing.

I am a member of one of three 'Abrahamic' religions.
So the story of that reconciliation of brothers over their father's grave holds for me some meaning of possible eventual reconciliation in the face of the terrible sufferings of the present descendants of Isaac and Ishmael now in the Holy Land. If God wills. :)




Scott Shaver said...

The history of the world is one of repeated wars, conquests and forced/coerced relocations.

Thanks for the historical sketch of a very "complicated"...mess.

Scott Shaver said...

Christianne:

Another view in regard to the "reconciliation" of sons over the grave of Abraham is that the "chosen seed" of Abraham would be the line through which God would incarnate in Christ, thereby providing the only REAL hope of reconciliation in the AFTERLIFE.

Personally, I do not hold out any temporal hope for a genuine reconciliation of the two son's descendant "nations" this side of eternity while the god of this earth has temporary sway.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Your mentioning Beersheba brings back memories. In Tel Aviv, my son Joe, was manager where Baptist provided lodging and food for churches that brought their youth there for their program. He changed ‘jobs’ to a missionary in Beersheba.

I’d finished remodeling a house in Tel Aviv and was going to visit him. Joe said it’d save him a trip if I’d bring some stuff. It required a big suitcase. I thought I’d gotten a bus to Jerusalem in plenty of time to catch the one bus a day from Jerusalem to Beersheba, but I was on a local bus that stopped at many places. I told a friendly guy on the bus my problem. (I’d never been in the bus terminal in Jerusalem.) He said for me to follow him and he’d lead me to the bus going to Beersheba.

He ran across the huge terminal and up flights of stairs. My suitcase felt like an anchor and had me exhausted. If the bus hadn’t been ten minutes late, I’d missed it.

All luggage was stored under the bus. The driver would open it for people to get their luggage on an honor system. Feeling back to normal, when I picked up my suitcase, I thought wrong that someone had taken half of it.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

“WE ARE CANAANITES, WHOM JOSHUA THE THIEF CHASED AWAY” reminds me our parents on their second missionary trip to Brazil when she was 74 and he was 83.

The town they were in flew the Confederate flag. They could have had under that flag:
WE ARE THE CONFEDERATES, WHOM THE DAM YANKEES CHASED AWAY” 😊

Ruth said...

Wade: Thank you. I did not realize that the summary was intended to include the entire balance of your post as I did not follow the link when I originally read this. My fault entirely; I apologize for completely misunderstanding due to my lack of follow up.

Gerry Milligan said...

Wade, in Genesis 15:18-21 God covenanted with Abram that Abram's descendants would be given the land which is now Palestine. You make no mention of Ishmel, a descendent of Abram, but God's covenant was also to him and his descendants.

Scott Shaver said...

Rex:

😂😂😂😂

Did you happen to check if the flag was a close variation of St Andrews cross or if it had a local or regional history?

Rex Ray said...

Scott Shaver,

Thanks for the reply.

I don’t know; I wasn’t there, but I’d bet they didn’t know dam Yankee was two words. :)

Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight) said...

"Extreme anti-Israelis formed a group called Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Islamic force composed of Palestinians and other sympathetic Arabs."

This is a highly bizarre statement and indicates that the writer (not Wade I assume) doesn't really understand the nature of Islam.

Hezbollah IS a terrorist organisation, it IS supported mainly by Iran, but it is based on Shia Islam and promotes that form of Islam. Shia Islam is not predominately Arab, but Persian in its ethnicity. In terms of its political aspirations, it seeks to represent and protect Shia Muslims in Lebanon, who represent some 30% of the population.

We need to understand the sharp difference between Shia and Sunni Islam. While both Sunnis and Shias are no friends of Israel, they are not linked in any formal way, and nations dominated by Shia Islam, like Iran, are enemies to nations dominated by Sunni Islam, like Saudi Arabia. You might remember a while back when one of Saudi Arabia's oil facilities was severely damaged by an Iranian drone attack.

Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight) said...

"So now today, in a region consisting of dozens of Muslim countries twice as wide as the United States, stretching from Morocco on the West coast of North Africa to Pakistan on the Indian Subcontinent, everyone speaks a form of Arabic,"

Yeah but not Iran. Iranians are not Arabs, they are Persians. They are not Sunni Muslims, they are Shia Muslims. They don't speak "a form of Arabic", they speak Farsi. Add to this also the presence of non-Arabic speaking Shia Muslims in Afghanistan..

Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight) said...


"After the diaspora in A.D. 70, the Jews lived in little communities worldwide, but especially in Europe. This is because the Romans had scattered these Jewish people all over the Roman empire, and Europe is where most of the Roman Empire was located at the beginning of the diaspora."

A Jewish diaspora existed already throughout Europe prior to AD 70. The invasion of the Assyrians and Babylonians and the taking of Jews into exile also resulted in many Jews migrating to Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Some of these Jews are mentioned in the book of Acts - Paul would preach the gospel to Jews first in the Greek cities he went to. Where did these Jews come from? They were descendents of the diaspora that had been created centuries beforehand.

Of course after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, many of the Palestinian Jews went to live in Greece, Rome and Egypt, where they mingled with the Jews of the original diaspora.

Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight) said...

"Since the Jews were mostly prevented from holding public office, becoming military leaders, or even entering institutions of higher learning. As a result, they'd entered the only field left open to them: business."

In some cases, yes. But the "business" option open to Jews was something that was developed long before the Middle Ages.

Because of the commonality of their language, many Jews engaged in trade after their original (Assyrian and Babylonian) diaspora. They had ready-made trade routes with other Jewish traders. Sabbath laws also forced Jews to live close together, since they could not travel too far to go to the synagogue. So Jews lived close in together, and engaged in trading with Jews in other parts of the mediterranean. This all existed before Christ.

Anti-Jewish pogroms also existed even back then. There is an argument that the riot Paul suffered in Ephesus was an anti-Jewish riot, since the people saw Paul as a Jew.

Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight) said...

"...books by Rudyard Kipling were being written, Sherlock Holmes was stalking the streets of London, Stanley and Livingston were making their way around Africa, and Queen Victoria was on the throne."

One of those people is fictional. Does the author know this?

Scott Shaver said...

Does Salient Audience have any discernment of literary style?

Gerry Milligan said...

Wade, you said, " In other Arab-Israeli conflicts (1956, 1967, and 1973), almost always started by the Arabs, the same has been the result: one was called the Six-Day War because that's all the time it took the Israelis to win, while another was called the Yom Kippur War because the Arabs tried to win by surprise-attacking on the holiest Jewish day." Sources invariably talk about Israel's "PREEMPTIVE STRIKES" which with the USA'a modern air force. The Yom Kippur strike so caught Israel sleeping and led Israel to seek a peaceful outcome.

Rex Ray said...

Gerry Milligan,

What helped Israel to win the Six-Day War; they learned enemy airplanes were hidden under a certain kind of tree. Enemy planes were destroyed by Israel bombing the trees.

Israel Air Force In the Six-Day War (jewishvirtuallibrary.org)

“Israeli fighters struck a crippling blow to the Egyptian Air Force by destroying most of its aircraft on the ground.”

Rex Ray said...

Gerry Milligan,

We learned about the trees hiding the airplanes from a tour guide when we went with Wade’s group on a tour of Israel.

Gerry Milligan said...

Rex Ray, on a tour of Isreal you learned this. Where were the planes hidden exactly, and to what country did they belong before the Israeli air force preemptively attacked them?

Gerry Milligan said...

Wade, where does II Chronicles 7:14 fit into your narrative?

Tom said...

Hello

I would love to comment on this topic, but because many who respond believe their fallible translations are beyond reproach, I will have a hard time convincing those people that their understanding may be coloured by the misunderstanding handed down from of old, of the "Jewish/Israelite" scholars in their belief that God had promised Abraham the "Land of Canaan," whereas God in Gen 12:1 had promised Abraham the Earth that He had created and that He would show Abraham the steps or the way to gain the earth as their inheritance.

This covenantal promise is what is also found within the New Testament prophecies concerning the inheritance that will be received by the people of the way, i.e. now called Christians, that their inheritance is also the whole refurbished earth as was promised to Abraham.

The "Promised Land" is first described in Gen 13:14-17 and reads this way from the Hebrew text: -

And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are — northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the earth which you see, {that (entity)}, I will give to your descendants for a long period of time whose ending is at the vanishing point, {of this particular time period}, in the future}. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk about my earth through its length and its width, for Me to give it to you. "

Notice that in this paraphrasing of the hebrew text that Abraham is not promised any land as the English translations suggest.

With regards to Genesis 15:16 God told Abraham that some of his descendants would return to the land where he was living, i.e. the land of Canaan, at that time, in their own strength, some 4,000 year after the birth of Isaac, and that, all the iniquities of the Amorite peoples would not be completed, when they re-enter Canaan, which occurred in 1948.

Our understanding of God's redemptive plan for all the nations of the earth is somewhat faulty because of our reliance on the scholar's interpretation of what God's intentions for all of mankind is, as presented in our fallible English translations. We are still hung up, like the present day Jews, on the power of having dominion over some land rather than being planted in God's fertile field where we can learn about the things of the Lord and through faith to gain our salvation and inheritance.

Shalom

Scott Shaver said...

I appreciated that explanation. Tom.

The cycle of "iniquity" repeats itself over and over globally. A theme of history.

Same as the title deed to the "land of Canaan" between Arab and Jew.

Consequently, history being what it is, and Judaism being what it represents....

I'm going to pull for and support the team currently occupying the "home bench" by supporting their right to self defense.

As a Christian "skeptic" (for lack of a label) I don't see such things changing as/when the world winds down.

Rex Ray said...

Tom,

You remind me of my father telling me: “Rex, you’re always right, but when you’re wrong, you’re dead wrong!”

You said, “many who respond believe their fallible translations are beyond reproach, I will have a hard time convincing those people…”

You wrote in Genesis 13:14-17 from the Hebrew text: “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth…”

“And I am going to give you so many descendants that, like dust, they cannot be counted!” (Genesis 13:16 NLT)

You wrote: “whereas God in Genesis 12:1 promised Abraham the Earth that He had created and that he would show Abraham the steps or the way to gain the earth as their inheritance.” (Really?)

(Genesis 12:1-2 NLT) “Then the Lord told Abram…I will cause you to become the father of a great nation…”

You wrote: “This covenantal promise is what is also found within the New Testament prophecies concerning the inheritance that will be received by…Christians.” DUH

Rex Ray said...

Old, old story.

WHEN IS OUR DADDY COMING HOME? By Rex Ray
Our Dad was in World War I, but felt God called him to be a Chaplin in World War II. He was over age so he drove to Washington to appeal to the ‘head guy’. When turned down he talked to his neighbor, Sam Rayburn (Speaker of the House). Sam told him to try again and if he was turned down, “We’ll give him the axe.”
He was in Patton’s 4th Armored Division that starting fighting three days after D-Day. He stayed on the ‘front’ until the war was over in Germany.
Once, at daybreak, the Artillery was about to destroy a town, but stopped when an American jeep drove from the town. Dad had been getting his weekly ‘Chapel Chimes’ printed. He told the artillery the German soldiers had left during the night.
One time the Medics told him they could not prevent a soldier from dying. Dad held him until he left this earth. The soldier had told him, “Yesterday I thought I’d be killed. I asked Jesus to save me, and he step into my heart. I was so happy I thought I’d live forever. Don’t know why I was hit today, but tell my mother I’ll meet her in heaven.”
She knew her son was not a Christian, and was heartbroken when the Government notified, he was killed in action. A letter from Dad arrived later. The soldier’s mother replied, “You’ll never know how much your letter meant to us.”
Dad left the front to attend a mandatory meeting of all chaplains. A Catholic General, “X”, said all chaplains would stay 50 miles from the front. Dad started to leave in his jeep, and “X” said, “Where you going?”
“Back to the front; I take my orders from God; not you!”
Catholic soldiers began to ask why their chaplains were not on the front, which made “X” angry.
“X” promoted Dad from Captain to Major, but Dad turned it down because ‘Chaplain Majors’ were not allow on the front. Later Dad received orders from Patton ordering him to the rear, but when he went to Patton’s office, his secretary said Patton’s name was a forgery.
When the War ended in Germany, “X” had Dad transferred to France and tried to court-martial him. When that failed, “X” told him he would stay there until he agreed to take a colored-discharge without honor. We kept asking Mother for 13 months, “When is Daddy coming home?”
On March 27,1946, Philip Damon, who had served with our father pleaded in a letter to Chief of Staff, General Eisenhower, for him to investigate why Chaplain Ray was being detained in France.
Eisenhower replied June 21, 1946: “Mr. Damon. I have just received a report from the overseas commander concerning Chaplain David Ray. You will be pleased to know Chaplain Ray has returned to the U.S…I appreciate your interest in this case…”
We met his troop train that stopped in Fort Worth. As the train was about to leave, he told my brother and me to come with him. We were15, and had a ball.
His discharge papers of July 24,1946 stated: “David Ray was one of nine Chaplains in the U.S. Army who was awarded a Cluster to the Bronze Star Medal for Heroic Action.”

Tom said...

Hi Scott Shaver,
Please allow me to present what I believe is said, in the Hebrew Text, about God gathering Israel once more to Himself: -

>Ezekiel 34:11-16: - 'For thus says the Lord God: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. s a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver/rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and will bring them into their own fertile field; I will feed them on the mountain of Israel, {a metaphor for Israel’s religious basis}, in the {river} valleys and in all the inhabited places of the earth. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the highest mountain of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountain of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down," says the Lord God. "I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment."

In this prophecy, God is saying that He will be actively involved in the Gathering of the Israelite to Himself where they will be living at that time while scattered all over the face of the earth. No where in this passage does God speak of the Israelites having to return to the Land of Canaan first for them to be redeemed. What God is saying is that He will seek out each individual Israelite, i.e. His Sheep, and gather them to Himself with both being in relationship with each other for God’s purposes.

For the nation of Israel to be a blessing to all the other nations, they must agree to the refurbished terms of the Kingdom of Priest, a Holy Nation and God possession among all the nations of the earth Covenant, which was initially entered into at Mt Sinai, but was rejected by the people while Moses was up on the mountian with God for 40 days. This making like new again of this Mt Sinai covenant is written about in Jer 31 and is not a “brand new covenant” that has no connection with what God had entered into in the past.

Discovering this understanding requires us to meditate on the actual word of God and not on what some commentator has written about his own understanding of the scriptures.

Because of Israel’s continual idolatrous behaviour over the first two ages of their existence, their iniquities have been visited on them during the third and and this present age, and the visitation of their iniquities will not end until the present age is complete in our near future, as Paul stated in Rom 11:25-26
Rom 11:25-26: - “ . . . that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness {with respect to time} of the Gentiles has been completed. After which all of Israel that is Israel will be saved, . . . .”

When people begin to gain understanding of God’s prophetic word, we will be able to become God’s watchmen and be better prepared to pray for the salvation of the nations and participate in being God’s witnesses for them to follow.

Shalom

Scott Shaver said...

Would you not fall into the category of "commentator"?

Tom said...

Hi Scott

Everyone who makes comments on the scriptures falls into the category of being a commentator whether they meant to or not. Even posting a story off topic in the blog comments can be an unintentional commentary on what has been posted by the various other writers/posters on this blog by the one posting the off topic story, even when it may be an interesting story to relate.

Anyone providing their understanding of the scriptures are commenting on the scriptures. As such I am guilty as you have pointed out. However, my commentary is useless unless it engenders so form of considered response to what I have posted by the other readers of this blog. Sadly many responses provide a false argument against what has been posted rather that presenting a clear argument as to why they may disagree.

What I have suggested in my posts above is that Israel has lost their possession of the Land of Canaan/the Promised Land and God has turfed them out of that land nearly 2,000 years ago because of their idolatrous worship which is outside of God's terms for a relationship with Him.

The Good news is that God fully intends to redeem Israel upon their declared repentance when it comes in our near future upon their realisation of their sins against God.

With God all who repent will gain life and no longer be a candidate for the second death which is the consequences for their sins which they have not repented of.

Shalom

Scott Shaver said...

Hey Tom:

Doesn't look to me in my liftetime that Israel has "lost possession. They have been kicking the butts of their Arab and Iranian detractors since 1950. I don't buy into your eschatological time table.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

I’ll add some more to the old old story.

Friends of Dad wanted him to write a book, and put donations of $1,500 in an army bank. In his book, he put pictures the army had made. One shows Dad preaching in a field. Under the picture: “Somewhere in France, within the sound of enemy guns.” Under another picture: “Somewhere in Germany”.

“X” had the bank to send the $1,500 to our Mother. Dad didn’t know about it until she wrote him. She had finished paying the bank loan that Dad had borrowed to buy a farm.

On the back of Dad’s picture on our wall: “Don’t know how the old goat got me transferred to France. “X” told him he’d stay there until he paid the army $1,500 and take a colored-discharge. Dad said, “Sir, I shall do neither!”

When the overseas Commander got Dad sent home, goat, fearing a court-martial, put himself in a hospital.

Christiane said...

REX RAY, your father sounds like a man of great integrity under pressure, you should be very proud of him and his service to so many who needed his pastoral care

Johnny D. said...

Wow! That was a great read, Wade. Thank you.

Ginny Brant said...

As someone who's been in the Gaza Strip, it is truly a difficult place to live. You could sense the hatred of Israel and Israel's hatred for them. My husband and I were there with Southern Baptist missionaries to help train teachers at their school for the deaf. An experience I will never forget!

TheAlpinist said...

Good article Wade. But just want to point out one misconception in the western world.

You stated in your article “Aside from this strange and offensive new outpost, there were no Jews for thousands of miles around — only Arabs.”

Prior to the creation of Israel hundreds of thousands of Jews were living in close proximity to Israel in Islamic lands. Mostly North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Persia, Yemen, Iraq, and as far away as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and India.

Intense persecution broke out during the 1940s and most Jews in Muslim nations were forced to immigrate to Israel.

Today the vast majority of Jews living in Israel are not Ashkenazi European Jews, but mostly Sephardic and Mizhrani in origin.