Israeli soldiers are severely beating Arabs while Arab women and children hurl stones and fire bombs at Israeli women and children. Israeli soldiers fire on mobs of rioters while Arabs kill hitchhikers and burn Jewish families alive by throwing Molotov cocktails through the windshields of their passing vehicles.
We can say with great confidence that most of the world watching these events on their T.V. screens, do not have a clue to the historical background which has brought to the Holy Land such excruciating agony and misery.
Yet believers, who by right of their new birth have strong consciences and a sense of justice, must be acquainted with this background in order to justly analyze and comprehend what is happening.
From 70 A.D. when the Jews were driven out of the Land of Israel (in Hebrew, Eretz Israel) no part of it has ever been an independent state. It was always a backwater section of some larger expanse held by foreign conquerors -- Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Arab, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman Turk. No people ever made Jerusalem their capital save the Jews. Not the Romans, not the Crusaders, not the Arabs.
ERETZ ISRAEL OR PALESTINE
The Greeks and Romans had called the area Palestine (their form of the word Philistine), but then the name fell into disuse. The area did not even have its own official name for centuries (except as a portion of somebody else's empire)! However, the area did remain a part of the religious and historical consciousness of mankind, who called it the Holy Land, Judea, Israel, or Palestine and associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Only when the British took over the land, did they officially rename it Palestine.
When the Arabs became the majority, the Holy Land was regarded simply as the southern part of Syria, with no separate political, ethnic or cultural identity of its own.
Even though the Jews were sent into exile by Rome, a remnant constituted a majority for several centuries in the Holy Land, praying, longing, and hoping for the day God would restore the rulership of the land of Israel back to His people. Through the centuries the Jews continued to be a substantial part of the local population.
From the 16th century on, there was a slow but steady influx of Jews, restoring and bringing cities like Hebron, Safed, Tiberias and Jerusalem itself back to life. Indeed Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority since the 1860's.
In 1516, the Turkish Ottoman Empire conquered most of the Middle East and ruled it for 401 years considering the Holy Land simply as part of Greater Syria. Incidentally, until today the Syrian leadership sees the Holy Land as rightfully belonging to her. In fact "Greater Syria," they believe, includes Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. That is the chief reason Syria, Israel's most intrepid enemy, will not consider peace talks with the Jewish nation.
As recently as a hundred years ago, Palestine or Eretz Israel was very sparsely populated. Jerusalem's total population numbered about 18,000. In the area between Lebanon and Egypt there were probably not more than 300,000 Arabs and Jews living under the most miserable of conditions.
MARK TWAIN VISITS PALESTINE
Mark Twain who visited Palestine in the 1860's, described the country as "a silent mournful expanse...a desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with pomp of life and actions. . . We never saw a human being on the whole route...There was hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive and cactus...had almost deserted the country...a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land" ("The Innocents Abroad", 1869).
In the 1880's new waves of persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe caused over 3,000,000 Jews to flee, and seek a new home. This led to what is considered the first modern wave of Jewish immigrants arriving in the land.
The Turks disliked this possible nationalist movement and quickly ordered a halt to Jewish immigration. Out of the 3,000,000 Jews, only 20,000 - 30,000 made it to Eretz Israel, almost all by illegal means. Even if they made it into the country, no immigrant could buy property. Building permits had to be obtained through Constantinople!
In the end, many found they could not survive and left. Yet at the turn of the century, with all of the Turkish restrictions, 30,000 Jews managed to live in Jerusalem, two-thirds of the city's population.
ZIONIST AWAKENING IN THE 19TH CENTURY
The Vienese journalist, Dr. Theodor Herzl, considered the father of modern Israel, became convinced that the unending, worldwide cycles of persecution of the Jewish people would not stop until they had their own independent country. He organized the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897. Its goal was "to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law." In his own diary Herzl confided an amazing prophecy: "In Basle I founded the Jewish State...maybe in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will realize it."
Oddly enough the Sixth Zionist Congress was torn over whether or not the homeland for the Jews should be founded in British controlled Uganda!
Over the next few years, Jewish organizations surveyed possibilities in Surinam, Cyrenaica, Iraq, Angola, Canada, Honduras, Australia, Mexico and Siberia -- but nothing ever came of them.
Worldwide oppression of the Jewish people continued springing up: now here, now there. Jews, especially in Russia and Eastern Europe, began to organize "Zionist" (Zion, a Biblical word meaning Jerusalem and by extension Eretz Israel) organizations with the goal of immigrating to the Holy Land. These young pioneers came with the full knowledge that the Turkish rulers were no enlightened taskmasters.
They began to establish villages, clear malaria swamps, plant crops, and even establish small industries. Many Arabs, attracted by the economic progress, began to move into the area from Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan and the desert (Saudia). By 1920 there were close to 700,000 Arabs in Palestine.
Then World War I came, and the Jewish settlers suffered severely. The Turks deported 700 "enemy" Jews, which started a mass exodus of 11,300. The history books say that several thousand Jews died in Jerusalem of starvation, disease and cold, as did some hundreds in Jaffa-Tel Aviv. Other hundreds were jailed by the Turks as spies. When General Allenby entered the Holy City, the Jewish population in the entire country had dwindled to 57,000.
THE TURKS LOSE THEIR EMPIRE
As World War I drew to a close, it became apparent that the Allies were winning over Germany and her ally Turkey. Obviously, the Turkish empire would be carved up among the victors.
Dr. Chaim Weizman, a valuable scientist for English munitions with many friends in high places, began to work aggressively for political support among British leaders, of the idea that the Holy Land should be established as a homeland for the Jewish people.
It so happened that Arthur Balfour, England's Foreign Secretary had a strong conviction for Zionist. Other English leaders like Lloyd George and General Smuts from South Africa were steeped in Bible and they believed that it was God's plan for the Jews to return to Palestine. During this short period of strong British support for returning Eretz Israel to her people, British Christians in leadership carried the day and paved the road to Israel's reestablishment.
The result was the famous Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917: "His Majesty's Government view will favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of the object…"
The original draft submitted to the Cabinet by Lloyd George and Balfour stated that "Palestine should be constituted as the National Home of the Jewish people." The wording was watered down, curiously enough, to appease leading British Jews, notably Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India. These Jews feared that such Jewish aspirations might make Anglo-Jewish loyalty suspect.
ALL OF PALESTINE OPEN TO JEWISH IMMIGRANTS
What must be clearly understood is that by Palestine, Balfour meant what is now Israel, Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jordan, the whole area covered by the Mandate.
The whole area was to be open for Jewish settlement. The authors of the Declaration contemplated that, with immigration and settlement, the national home would in due course become an independent state with a Jewish majority. Lloyd George, Sir Winston Churchill and Smuts, all later confirmed this was their intention.
Later Arab nationalists claimed that the Balfour declaration was invalid because the land had already been promised to the Arabs by Sir Henry MaMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt. However MacMahon, in his correspondence with Arab leaders, never once mentioned Palestine!
Indeed Winston Churchill as Colonial Secretary speaking in the House of Commons in 1922 stated: His Majesty's Government has always regarded and continues to regard Palestine as excluded by these provisions from the scope of (MacMahon's) undertaking." MacMahon himself wrote in the London Times in 1937 that "I feel it my duty to state and I do so definitely and emphatically, that it was not intended by me in giving this pledge to King Hussein (of Mecca) to include Palestine in the area in which Arab independence was promised."
THE HOMELAND OF THE JEWS MADE SMALLER
In 1918, there were negotiations between England and France as what to do with the southern part of what is now Lebanon from Sidon to the South, since it had been considered part of the Balfour Homeland for the Jews according to the Balfour Declaration. In the end Britain gave it to France, thus making substantially smaller the Galilee area promised for Jewish settlement. Britain took over the Administration of the areas of Palestine and Iraq.
It was in 1920, at the Paris Peace Conference, that after 1600 years of disuse, the name "Palestine" was first applied to a clearly defined piece of territory with borders -- the area which today comprises Israel, Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jordan. Under the terms of the Mandate, its primary purpose was to put into effect the Balfour Declaration. It recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and...the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." Britain, as the Mandatory Power, was made responsible for placing the country "under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home."
No territorial restriction whatsoever -- neither east nor west of the Jordan River -- were placed in the Jewish National Home. In fact, the Mandate stipulated that Britain was to facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage close settlement by Jews on the Land (The Arab-Israeli Conflict in Maps, Steimatzky, Ltd. p. 5).
In 1922, the newly established League of Nations officially ratified the Mandate to Britain to prepare all of Palestine for a Jewish State.
However, Colonel T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) advisor to Winston Churchill, convinced the British to exclude Transjordan -- what is now the nation of Jordan, and what in Bible times was the land belonging to Reuven, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh -- from the Jewish National Home provision.
Transjordan, or the land on the east of the Jordan, 78% of the homeland for the Jews, was given to one Emir Abdullah, son of Hussein from Mecca, who was made its ruler. By a stroke of the British pen, the Jewish homeland was reduced to 22% of its original area (not including area below Sidon, lopped off earlier). What remained of the homeland was now what is today Israel, Samaria, Judea, Gaza, and part of the Golan Heights.
Lawrence of Arabia, considered a savior by the Arabs, later wrote that now that Transjordan was given to the Arabs "the Winston Churchill settlement of 1921-22 (in which I shared) honorably fulfills the whole of the promise we made to the Arabs." Yet, today Arab leaders claim that they were promised the whole of Palestine for themselves.
ARABS REJECT BALFOUR DECLARATION, MANDATE
In 1920, anti-Jewish riots became the first round in the armed struggle for the rest of Eretz Israel. Again in 1929, whole communities of Jews in the Holy Land were slaughtered by the Arabs. They wanted all Jews out of Palestine. Palestine was to be dedicated only to the Moslem god and his prophet Mohammed.
Arabs totally rejected the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate to Britain, and the U.S. commitment to a Jewish Home in Eretz Israel. Their efforts were unceasing in their attempts to prevent Jews from living in Eretz Israel.
Yet the League of Nations had the Mandate. The Jewish national borne in Palestine (remembering that it had been reduced to what is now Israel, Judea, Samaria, Gaza and part of the Golan Heights) was no longer just a war-time promise; it had gained a recognized status under international law. Moreover the U.S., not a part of the League of Nations, made a separate agreement with Britain, ratifying the promise of a homeland for the Jews.
Meanwhile, as we recall, the Mandates were given as a means to bring these regions, formerly under Turkish rule, into independence. Thus England granted Iraq independence as an Arab state in 1932. France did the same to Syria in 1936 and Lebanon in 1941. In 1946 Britain unilaterally gave Transjordan independence and created an independent Palestinian Arab state. Today the majority of Arabs in Jordan are Palestinians.
Also other states came unto being from territories formally under the Turks: Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Aman, Qator and the United Arab Emirates. There are now approximately twenty Arab member-states of the United Nations.
JEWS ENTER THE LAND ILLEGALLY
From 1920 on, British history in Palestine is one long chapter of a ruling nation attempting to rid itself of the "Jewish problem" in Eretz Israel, and to rive the rest of Palestine to the Arabs. Britain's chief strategy was to limit Jewish immigration into its Homeland, so that the percentage of Jews would not increase, in order that the Arabs could always maintain a majority.
In 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany and during the next few years almost 80,000 German-Jewish refugees swarmed into Israel, to the discomfort of the British.
In 1936, the Arabs instituted three years of terror, slaughtering whole communities of Jews in Palestine. Yet because Hitler was on the rampage in Europe, the Jews now, with nowhere to turn, made desperate attempts to sneak into Palestine. In all 217,000 managed to make it to the shores, most of them illegally.
GALILEE, JUDEA, SAMARIA, ETC. TO BECOME AN ARAB STATE
This immigration only incensed the Arabs even more. The British, anxious to woo the Arabs away from the Germans, proclaimed in the famous 1939 MacDonald White Paper that all Jewish immigration must come to a complete stop.
Furthermore, in 10 years, Western Palestine (what is now Israel) would become an independent Arab State. Jews would be allowed to live in it, as long as they did not constitute more than 1/3 of the population. Thus, Britain had completely violated the Mandate entrusted to her by the League of Nations.
The League protested but had little power. Eretz Israel was closed to the Jews. The British will one day have to give an account for slamming shut the doors to thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Jews, who could have escaped from Europe, if they had had a place to go, but instead perished in the ovens of Hitler.
At the end of World War II, a quarter of a million emaciated Jewish refugees were still in camps in Europe and still with no place to go. President Truman suggested that Britain let 100,000 into Palestine.
JEWISH ZIONISTS DEMAND THE BRITISH GET OUT
When the British adamantly refused, the Zionist 1eadership, having nothing to lose any longer, demanded the end of British rule and the establishment of a Jewish State. Having reached a dead end, Britain turned to the newly formed United Nations.
Since God overrules men and ultimately brings His promises to fulfillment, He used the U.N. to accomplish his purposes and not those of the British.
The Arabs demanded that all Palestine should become a single state with an Arab majority. It was heavily defeated, even though all the Arab nations voted for it.
Both the U.S. and Russia (!) plus a majority of nations, voted for a Jewish State to be established. Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko stated that Jewish aspirations regarding this were "comprehensible and completely justified."
THREE POCKETS OF LAND FOR THE JEWS
However, the U.N. partition of Palestine had serious problems. Within the 22% of Eretz Israel left over from the establishment of the Palestinian Arab state Jordan, the Land was now to be further partitioned into two states, another Palestinian State and a Jewish State. The latter was actually three disconnected pieces of land, 75% of which was desert.
The Jews lost Judea, Samaria, Gaza and much of Galilee. Jerusalem was to be an international city within the newly formed Arab State.
The Zionist leaders agonized as to whether or not they should accept the truncated state. The exclusion of Jerusalem was almost unthinkable. But in the end there was no choice. The Jewish population accepted the plan which accorded them their little state. On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion declared it an independent state, and called it Israel.
The Arabs, however, rejected the U.N. partition out of hand. They did not want Jordan, Judea, Samaria, Gaza and part of the Galilee only. They wanted it all. On May 15, the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq invaded the tiny new country with the declared intent of destroying it. The Mufti of Jerusalem stated, "I declare a holy war, my Moslem brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!"
The Arabs, armed to the teeth by the British, clashed head on with the Jewish population. Many Jewish soldiers, just fresh from the death camps, did not even know Hebrew well enough to take orders from their commanders. The British had consistently made sure that the Jews were without arms. Only what was handmade or smuggled in by the Jewish
Underground was available at the beginning of the war. Even though Israel suffered tremendous losses in human life and destruction, the Jewish State survived.
After almost a year of fighting, the 600,000 Jews of Israel had actually won back part of Galilee and a small section of Judea and Samaria, plus half of Jerusalem. The Arabs to their shock, were pushed back, and agreed to an armistice.
One of the major consequences of the war was that Jordan laid claim to and annexed the rest of Judea, Samaria and the other half of Jerusalem as its own. The U.N. did not recognize these annexations except for Britain and Pakistan. These territories then became a launching ground for terrorist attacks against Israel's civilian population.
FURTHER BORDER CHANGES
The Six-Day War in 1967 was initiated by Nasser's blockade of Israel's southern port. He expelled the U.N. troops from the Sinai and moved his own in to prepare for his invasion of Israel. Nasser declared, "Our basic goal is the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."
When that 1967 battle was over, Israel had brought within her borders Jerusalem and the Temple site, Judea, Samaria, Golan, Gaza and the Sinai. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia were not able to push Israel into the Sea.
GOD IS PRO-ARAB
God is no respecter of persons. He loves the Arab people as much as He loves the Jewish people. In fact God has been very generous in His dispensing of land to the Arabs. Their land space is 672 times the size of Israel! It is twice the size of the U.S. All of Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula belong to the 120,000,000 Arabs. We will not go into the treasures of black gold that God has planted in her territories.
The Israeli Arab conflict is not over how much land Israel should have. The conflict exists because the Arabs want the 673rd portion as well. Israel, they believe, must not have the right to exist. The spirit driving the Moslem peoples against Israel says destroy, destroy, destroy.
No matter how much land Israel would give up, it would not bring peace, for Satan wants to destroy Israel.
Next Month: Refugees: Jewish and Palestinian.
The Beresford's vs. Israel Interior Office Court Case began on February 4. It is not yet finished. The prosecution gave their reasons why the Beresford's faith in Yeshua as the Messiah should keep them from having the right to immigrate to Israel.
Though we cannot say very much until the case is over, there is an awareness of great victory ahead. The newspapers have treated the case very favorably.
Sample headlines in the Jerusalem Post: "High Court asked: Is a Jew who believes in Jesus still a Jew? Seventy-eight percent (of the Israeli population) say "Messianic Jews" can become olim (immigrants)."
The second case, Ari Sorko-Ram vs. the Israeli army has not yet come up. Both cases are on the dockets for May 19. And what is May 19th? The day before the Shavuot '88 Messianic Jewish Conference!!! We are expecting 500 Messianic Jews to come from abroad and another 500 Israeli believers to meet in a powerful statement of what God is doing among the Jewish people today. It is incredible that the dates of the court trial and the Conference should be back to back. We are planning a large prayer meeting for the morning of May 19, in Jerusalem.
It is as Paul described it, a wrestling match. Through prayer and faith we will see the victory. The stakes are high. How we need your help and prayers.
Oh yes, if you know a Messianic Jew who would like to come to this 14-day tour which includes a three-day conference perhaps you or your congregation could help send him/her. Israel is going to be touched by God in this historic 40 year anniversary meeting commemorating the outpouring of the Spirit of God on Israel.
For brochures write to: The Messianic Vision, Sid Roth
P.O. Box 34444, Washington, D.C. 20034, USA
The stakes are high! Pray for us. Support what God is doing in Israel. And praise Him together with us!
In the Messiah,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
Comay, Michael, Zionism, Israel, and the Palestinian Arabs. Keter Publishing, Jerusalem, 1983.
History of the Land of Israel from 1880, Keter Publishing, Jerusalem, 1973.
Jerusalem, Keter Publishing, Jerusalem, 1973.