|Israel(on the right)is the true name for the land many call "Palestine"
I've been quiet since Israel erupted in fighting spurred by disputes over the Temple Mount.
Until now, I haven't even bothered to say, "See, I told you so. "But I can't resist any longer.I feel compelled to remind you of the column I wrote just a couple of weeks before the latest uprising. Yeah, folks, I predicted it.That's OK. Hold your applause.
If you believe what you read in most news sources, Palestinians want a homeland and Moslems want control over sites they consider holy.Simple, right?
Well, as an Arab-American journalist who has spent some time in the Middle East dodging more than my share of rocks and mortar shells, I've got to tell you that these are just phony excuses for the rioting, trouble-making and land-grabbing.
Isn't it interesting that, prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, there was no serious movement for a Palestinian homeland?
"Well, Farah," you might say, "that was before the Israelis seized the West Bank and Old Jerusalem."
That's true. In the Six-Day War, Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. But it didn't capture these territories from Yasser Arafat. It captured them from Jordan's King Hussein.
I can't help but wonder why all these Palestinians suddenly discovered their national identity after Israel won the war.
THE TRUTH is that Arab Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name "Palestine" was used was in 70 AD, when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed their Temple, and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine.
The name was derived from the name "Philistines" - a people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.
Palestine has never existed - before or since - as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British eventually agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.
There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention),Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1% of the landmass.
BUT THAT'S too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.
What about Islam's holy sites?There are none in Jerusalem.
Shocked?You should be. I don't expect you will ever hear this brutal truth from anyone else in the international media. It's just not politically correct.
I know what you're going to say:"Farah, the Al-Aksa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam's third most holy sites."
Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem.
SO HOW did Jerusalem become the third-holiest site in Islam?
Moslems today cite a vague passage in the Koran, the seventeenth Sura, entitled "The Night Journey. "It relates that in a dream or a vision Mohammed was carried by night "from the sacred temple to the temple that is most remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we might show him our signs…"
In the seventh century, some Moslems identified the two temples mentioned in this verse as being in Mecca and Jerusalem. And that's as close as Islam's connection with Jerusalem gets - myth, fantasy, wishful thinking.
Meanwhile, Jews can definitely trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of Abraham.
The latest round of violence in Israel erupted when Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, the foundation of the Temple built by Solomon. It is the holiest site in the world for Jews. Sharon and his entourage were met with stones and threats.
I know what it's like. I've been there. Can you imagine what it is like for Jews to be threatened, stoned and physically kept out of the holiest site in Judaism?
So what's the solution to the Middle East mayhem?Well, frankly, I don't think there is a man-made solution.
But, if there is one, it needs to begin with truth. Pretending will only lead to more chaos. Behaving as if a 5,000-year-old birthright backed by overwhelming historical and archeological evidence is equal to illegitimate claims, wishes and wants gives diplomacy and peacekeeping a bad name.
More Myths of the Middle East
My recent commentaries on the Middle East have touched off a virtual international firestorm on the Internet.
Since writing "Myths of the Middle East" less than two weeks ago, I have been inundated with email from all over the world - at least 5,000 letters from Israel alone!The article has been translated into a dozen languages. It has been the subject of network television debates. It has been read on Israeli national radio.
And, while most of the reaction has been passionately favorable, there have been threats on my life and the lives of my family members. There have been vicious, obscene, vulgar, and profane denunciations.
The reaction illustrates just how far apart the Arabs and Israelis are in the so-called "peace process. "There has clearly been no progress since 1947.
In fact, there is ample evidence that some Arab leaders are right now attempting to revise history in new ways that strongly suggest there is nothing Israel can ever do to appease the violence in their hearts.
In an interview with Italian newspaper La Republica on March 24 of this year, Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, the Palestine Authority's top Moslem figure in Jerusalem, decreed that the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Jewish Temple, has no religious significance to the Jews.
HE SAID, "Let it be clear:the Wailing Wall is not a holy place of the Jews, it is an integral part of the mosque [grounds]. We call it Al-Buraq, the name of the horse with which Mohammed ascended to heaven from Jerusalem."
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat himself has made similar statements recently, claiming the city of Jerusalem has no real significance to Jews.
He repeated what he had previously asserted on Al-Jezira television on June 28, 1998, when he said, "Let me tell you something. The issue of Jerusalem is not just a Palestinian issue. It is a Palestinian, Arab, Islamic, and Christian issue."
Asked by the interviewer if one could also say it is a Jewish issue, he replied, "No. Allow me to be precise - they consider Hebron to be holier than Jerusalem."
Arafat is among those Arab leaders making the incredible suggestion that there was never a Jewish Temple at the site.
"Until now, all the excavations that have been carried out have failed to prove the location of the Temple," he claims. "It is 30 years since they captured the city, and they have not succeeded in giving even one proof as the location of the Temple."
Do you really think there can be compromise with people this delusional?
Now, perhaps you understand why even today the [Moslem Religious Authority] Wakf attempts to deny Jews and other non-Moslems access to these sites, andwhy, during the time when Jerusalem was occupied by Moslems, Christian churches and Jewish synagogues were destroyed or desecrated.
This alone should demonstrate conclusively to any non-biased observer that the troubles in the Middle East today will not be solved by the creation of a "Palestinian state. "It's time to point out to those who do not yet know that the leader of this movement - Arafat - is not a "Palestinian" at all.
Indeed, he was born in Egypt. But his family does have some history in the area - though he's not likely to acknowledge it on ABC's Nightline or CNN.
You see, it was Arafat's uncle who served as the grand mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s. It was his uncle who concluded, for the first time, that Mohammed had ascended into heaven from the site known as the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. And it was his uncle who, in an unholy alliance with Adolf Hitler, condemned the Jews and their designs on their eternal capital city.
The truth is that Jerusalem has a unique importance to Jews. It has always been a place described and revered in Jewish law. For centuries since the Diaspora, Jews around the world have prayed toward Jerusalem, mourned the destruction of their Temple and hopefully repeated the phrase, "Next year in Jerusalem."
Again, I say, until all the parties to war and peace in the Middle East acknowledge basic history and archaeology, that peripheral land concessions can bring peace.
The Irony of Arab-Americans
Ramallah and Jerusalem aren't the only sites of Arab protests these days.
They're also taking place in the streets near the Chicago Sun-Times, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
Arab-Americans are, if you can believe it, charging that the major US media are biased in favor of Israel and against them. Let's analyze that claim.
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran a photo of a young man bleeding on the streets of Israel and labeled him a "Palestinian" beaten by Israeli police or soldiers. It was complete reflex by the Times. Bleeding? Must be a Palestinian victim.It turns out the young man was a Jewish American student attending school in Israel, and he was beaten by an Arab mob. Would a paper biased in favor of Israel and against Arabs make such a mistake?
And what about the Los Angeles Times? Oh, the syndicate owned by the company had the audacity to distribute a column that criticized "radical, fundamentalist, murderous Islam. "The column quickly pointed out that it was not an indictment of a religion, only an attack on extremism within that religion. But that was too much for the newly organized, monolithic Arab-American community.
IT STRIKES ME that all of this protest is misguided, if, indeed, the objective is fair, balanced and accurate coverage by the press.
Why is it that the protesters are not criticizing the lack of free press in their native lands? In virtually every case, the official and semi-official news organs of the Arab world have one objective - fostering hatred against the Jewish state.
Reporters, editors and producers for Arab media show one side and one side only - not just in their editorials, but in their so-called news stories. In fact, their "new stories" are, by Western standards, editorials. They are designed to enflame passions, not inform citizens.
No wonder Arab-Americans see pro-Israel bias in the US press. If their standards for objectivity and neutrality are based on the closed-minded, government propaganda spewing forth in the Arab world, coverage in the West must, indeed, look slanted toward the Israeli side.
I'm an Arab-American. Why haven't I seen any evidence of this bias and prejudice in 46 years of life? Not once have I been mistreated, misrepresented or vilified because of my Arabic heritage - until very recently. And, interestingly, the hatred - and there is no other word for it - has been directed against me not by Jews, not by the US media, not by Israelis, but by other Arabs.
Apparently what bothers these activists more than anything is one - breaking ranks. It's the unforgivable sin. Death threats and insults that would curl your hair are sure to follow. And that's why I say none of these protests should be taken seriously by anyone.
These folks - and, by this, I mean the protesters, the activists - are not interested in fairness. They are not interested in truth. They are not interested in a better image for Arabs and Arab-Americans. What they are interested in is the ultimate irony - bullying their way into victimhood status, as so many other groups have in recent years.
It's sad. It's group-think. And, unfortunately, all too often, it works in America.
Too bad, though, that some of this energy isn't redirected at the closed, police-state world of the Arab states. Do these folks really remember from whence they came?
Joseph Farah is the editor and chief executive officer of WorldNetDaily.com, a leading independent Internet news site. His viewpoint is highly unusual for that of a person of Arab descent. However, his facts are fundamentally accurate and his writing style easy to understand. We feel that his opinion page is worthy of publication.
ON THE BEACH
By Shira Sorko-Ram
It was one of those moments that I will not forget. We had been to this spot so many times - a beautiful beach behind one of Israel's most prestigious hotels. This was our favorite place for the immersion of new believers in Yeshua. As of yet, none of the Messianic Jewish congregations in Tel Aviv have a mikve - the Hebrew word for a container or body of fresh water - where immersions take place. And so we have our immersions in the Mediterranean Sea.
Asher and Betty Intrater's son, Yeheskel, was being inducted into the Israeli army this week, and he wanted to publicly confirm his life's commitment to Yeshua the Messiah by immersion. There were two other men who were ready to be immersed at the same time, so after our Sabbath service, a group of about 30 from the congregation went to the beach to witness these immersions.
The testimonies of each of the men on the beach were very moving. Yeheskel explained now that he was going into the army, he wanted to proclaim his faith in Yeshua as his own personal decision, and not just because his parents are believers. Another man who had been recently saved from a life deeply involved in the passing things of this world, gave a fiery testimony that he was leaving everything behind to follow Yeshua.
In the back of our little group - which had formed a circle around those testifying - was a couple, Alex and Olga, (not their real names) who immigrated a few years ago from the former Soviet Union. Alex is a guard at our new facility. Almost immediately upon embarking upon his new job with us, he became interested in the Good News. Actually, already in the former Soviet Union, he had felt a real hunger to find God, so he entered a traditional Russian church. But when he saw all the icons and pictures of God, Yeshua and the saints, he felt that as a Jew he could not believe in such a religion.
After arriving at our new facility, he told us how happy he was with his new job and remarked how different the people were that he was meeting. He wanted badly to attend our services on Saturday morning. Because that time was his shift to guard the entrance, one of our members offered to take his place while he attended a Sabbath service.
He loved the praise and the teaching, and made sure the following week he changed his Sabbath shift to another time and brought his wife and children with him to the meeting. For the last few weeks they have attended every service.
So it was that we invited them to come along to the immersion service at the beach. When they heard the testimonies, they interrupted with, "We also want to be immersed, NOW!"
We told them they did not have any change of clothes and it being late fall, both the air and the water would be cold. Butwe promised them another immersion service within a couple of weeks. However, they insisted, "No!We want to be immersed now!"So on the beach we prayed a sinner's prayer with them to make sure they had really received Yeshua into their lives, and they publicly affirmed their faith in Yeshua as their Messiah. Then they went into the water with the others - with their best clothes that they had worn to the Sabbath morning service. They didn't care! These children of Abrahamwere thrilled to finally find the true path to the true God of Israel and His wonderful Son, Yeshua!
What a time of joy we had as we sang and danced on the sand! Soon we will be immersing Israelis by the tens, and one day it will be in the hundreds -and more. Revival must come to Israel, because God has promised it!
"All Israel willl be saved: just as it is written, The Deliver will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins. "Rom. 11:26-27
Dear Maoz Partner,
During the last three months of the year 2000, we experienced national tensions that seemingly no one foresaw. In the U.S., commentators spoke of a presidential crisis unequalled since before the Civil War.
In Israel, commentators spoke of dangers to the existence of Israel such as have not been faced since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Israelis are afraid - to go to the malls, to grocery stores and public places. After the peace talks failed, Yasser Arafat freed his chief terrorist masterminds who had languished in his jails for a couple of years. Freed, they immediately returned to their professions of blowing up Israeli school buses, busy street corners and outdoor markets.
Now we in Israel are facing new elections in the coming weeks. But there is little hope that a new prime minister, whoever that might be, can bring Israel and the Palestinians closer to peace. Peace is nowhere in sight.
What does such an atmosphere do to the Messianic Jews of Israel? It only spurs us on!As the dark clouds gather, the harvest must be brought in quickly!
Many of you are aware that there are three directives that God spoke into our hearts about this coming harvest. In 1995, we started a new congregation with a bold emphasis on evangelism in the Tel Aviv area. Shortly after that, the Lord spoke to us the following: "You have been praying for years for revival in Israel [as have millions of believers across the globe]. Now prepare, for revival is at hand. We were to do three things.
1. Get a "bigger barn", a larger building for the harvest.
2. Raise up Israeli leadership. Leaders are the key to quality and quantity growth.
3. Translate and publish Hebrew books for discipling those who will be coming to the Messiah.
For the last five years, we have put all three of these objectives on the fast track. Our immediate goal for Directive Number Three is to produce 100 books in Hebrew for evangelism and discipleship training. We have 80 more to go. However, we have a WONDERFUL "assembly line capability" now in place. We feel we have the best translator in the country. Her skills are excellent, her faith deep and doctrine balanced. She and her translation/editing team are considered outstanding by any standard.
Moreover, through Joyce Meyer Ministries, we have been able to acquire a complete in-house printing operation that can produce professionally all normal-size books. Our great advantage now is that we can print small quantities as they are needed; both our printing and storage costs become much less.
We now have another twelve books in the works that we are ready to publish as soon as funds are available.
We have mentioned before that the greatest hurdle to publish any book is the translation and typesetting which may take anywhere from four to six months to finish. It is also the most costly part of Hebrew publishing. But when that task is finished, we can print a book within a couple of weeks (once the cover is ready).
As the number of Israelis coming into the Kingdom of God steadily increases, these texts will be instantly available for multiple printings.
Here is a way that you can bring the Gospel to an Israeli person. Help us translate a Gospel book into Hebrew. Translating a normal size book (depending on how many words to a page) now costs from $2000 - $4000 per book. With all of us doing what we can, we will reach the goal to provide every Israeli believer the opportunity to acquire these 100 books for his personal growth in the Lord.
Think of it! Young Israelis believers, who because of language, were cut off from the teachings made available to the Body around the world, will now be able to tap into this rich treasure of revelation and encouragement. These books will release Hebrew-speaking believers to move from infancy and naivety to strong, persevering people of God who can work in His vineyard and produce good fruit.
We invite you to have a part in the harvest of Israel by working together with us today!
Your fellow laborers in Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S.Remember, it is YOUR gift that will help us reach the lost sheep of the nation of Israel!