By Robert Anthony
November 10, 2023
Fact: Israel is our Number One Ally in the world. We do more collaboration with Israel than any other nation by far. In Israel they often, jokingly, consider themselves to be the “51st State of America”. I would guess the number of dual American-Israeli citizens to be as high as 10% of the country! (That’s about a Million People!) But there is a very complicated history to Israel and especially it’s reemergence among the nations.
Understanding the history of the rebirth of Israel really helps to understand this conflict, a conflict that has been practically forced upon two people groups for more than 80 years. In short, Zionism began in the mid-19th Century. (Interestingly enough Zionism began about the same time the Jews started returning to Jesus! This is a very amazing history to study.) It’s very very important to understand that as the European Jews started returning to the Holy Land, there was no war, there was no strife and in many ways they were even welcomed by the indigenous people living in their ancient land. The Ottoman Empire was still ruling that part of the world and continued to do so up until their fall after WWI.
My opinion, from what I have gathered from my reading, the local people were happy to have the European Jews returning because of the vast resources that came with them! Very very important to understand, that land south of Lebanon, that very ancient and once lavish, jewel of the Mediterranean had plummeted from its former glory. Mark Twain visited Israel in 1867 and commented, “Many are Israel’s forsaken places, and great is the desecration. The more sacred the place, the greater the devastation it has suffered. Jerusalem is the most desolate place of all.”. (Here’s a great article that documents much of what Mark Twain had to say about Israel on his trip.) The fact is that when the Jews started returning to their land, what they returned to was basically a desolate wasteland.
Books and articles have been written on the subject but it is important to understand this in light of the conflict, in particular, with the people of Gaza. The European Jews were welcomed because they brought new life and wealth to that forgotten and barren wasteland! The conflict between the local people and the European Jews (and it’s important we say European because that land was full of Muslims, Christians and Jews when the Europeans started arriving mid-1800’s) did not start until much much later. There was not an actual war between the people living in the Holy Land and the European Jews until nearly a hundred years after their arrival!
The mid-1800’s there was nothing to fight over. The land was worthless and forgotten. War had ravaged Israel all throughout the crusades and then the Ottoman-Turks came to rule most of the Middle East. One of the Sultans decided to create a tax, based on how many trees one owned in the Holy Land! Well, of course, the trees were cut down. Anyone who understands the way God’s creation works, understands that the trees draw in the moisture, especially the forests! First Rome and then the crusades, and then the Turks declared war on Israel’s forests. With the trees gone, Israel was destined to fall into that wasteland. (Here is an interesting article on the subject.). Anyone who has been to Israel is amazed by what it has become! In short-order the European Jews made a paradise out of what was only a pile of dust, from the mountains of Lebanon to the Red Sea.
But then this brewing-conflict starts to erupt after WW1 when the British took over nearly all the lands of the Ottoman Empire, including Israel.
The Jews and the Arabs really had not had conflict in centuries at the time Israel was becoming a nation - it’s very important to understand that. The British and French especially were changing the power-structures around the Middle East dramatically after World War 1 and then came Hitler! Was there antisemitism in the Middle East before Hitler? Perhaps a little, but large-scale antisemitism was forgotten in the Middle East for hundreds of years! All throughout the Middle East Jews lived among the Muslims peacefully, Christians too. But the Middle East would change dramatically as cheap and easy to access oil was discovered throughout those mainly Arab-lands. And then came Hitler.
A mostly undiscussed history is Hitler’s involvement in the Middle East. First and foremost, it should be noted that at one point in time, Hitler encouraged the Jews to immigrate to “Mandatory Palestine”! By the end of 1933, upwards of 100,000 German Jews had already left Germany for Israel. On the one hand, the Nazi’s were natural allies of the Arab world both wanting to make war with Europe in general, but on the other hand, Hitler’s teaching of the hierarchy of the human races caused problems with them, teaching that the Arab’s were far inferior to the Supreme German-Arian race. But with the European-Jewish immigration into the western part of the Middle East, the Nazi’s and Arab’s had a common interest. There is no event that can be studied that brought about the reemergence of antisemitism into the Middle East comparable to the Nazi’s influence in the region. (Remember, the European Jews had been doing business in Israel for nearly 100 years without any war, murder or strife! Here is a decent article on the subject.)
Another horrible part of history is what happened to the Jews after World War II. FDR stopped allowing the grieving Jews from Europe to immigrate to the US! Even though the immigration quotas were incredibly low, FDR refused the majority of the Jews wanting to come to America. Many of the European nations did not want them and then the British decided to shut the Holy Land off from all Jewish immigration entirely! Where would the Jews go? Remembering that some 8-million of their people were just slaughtered by the Nazi’s, the Jews needed a home. This conflict created what became the Jewish Revolt against British Rule in Palestine from 1944-1948. (Here is an article on the topic.). Why did the US and Brits shut off immigration to the European Jews? This question requires some serious study and debate. But it would seem not one single nation had a heart in helping this hurting and decimated people, the Jews. Why FDR refused them still boggles the mind, especially considered how far below immigration quota’s he was for all of those years.
And after all of this tumultuous history we finally come to the Jewish-Arab war in 1947.
The Jews had succeeded in driving out the British but then the Arabs rose up against the Jews in a fight for that Holy Land. After the Jewish victory against the “Palestinians”, primarily England and America, through the newly created United Nations, forced a peace-agreement on the Jews that included refugee camps throughout the newly created nation of Israel. They forced warring factions to live next door to each other, or worse, commingling Arab communities in with the Jewish communities! Of course there would be war for years to come! A child could determine such a thing.
The next very complicated part of this story is the Arab world’s response to the conflict. The whole of the Arab world, and Iran, shut their doors to any and all “Palestinian” immigration. While a rather large portion of the “Palestinians” came to live peaceably within Israel, much of what came to be known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued to revolt on and off over the next almost 80 years (1947 to date). Bitterness and hatred between people-groups is a difficult enough problem to solve but then when they live next door to each other, it becomes practically impossible to resolve.
The Palestinians are by in large of the Muslim religion. Why the Muslim world refuses to care for its own? Is also complicated. One could surmise that the Muslim world is content to allow the “Palestinians” to war against the Jews, perhaps they think the conflict is in their best-interest? Over the past eighty years, any number of Arab, Middle East and North African nations could have opened their doors to these “refugees” but they have not. The simple fact of the matter is, no one has cared more for these hurting and revolting people than the nation of Israel. How complicated is that! The very people who warred against Israel are now under their care!?
This narrative, “The Jews took our land” is so far from reality. From the 1800’s through to the end of World War 2, the European Jews bought every piece of land they had in Palestine! The Arab’s were uninterested in warring with the Jews, not until the Jews had redeveloped the Holy Land into something valuable and greatly to be desired! The complex history of the rebirth of the nation of Israel involves, among many other factors, Europe’s desire to colonize and control the Middle East. But the war between the Palestinians and the nation of Israel could be easily resolved with the aid of a very few Muslim nations.
Years ago, I wrote a paper to Avigdor Lieberman, who was then Israel’s Defense Minister, detailing a plan that would lead to peace, perhaps not for all but for what could become a majority of the people living in Gaza and the West Bank. It would seem he agreed with the paper I wrote him, because within a short-few-days all my ideas were published on The Jerusalem Post in an Op-Ed written by Defense Minister Lieberman. Clearly, he understood the merit of the concept and agreed with it publicly. But what has happened in all these years? Why hasn’t a true peace been created with access to such resources? Perhaps there is just too much money involved to create peace!?
This is probably the most complicated part of the story. Billions in aide every year is given to Israel, the PLO and Hamas as a band-aide to this crisis. While the billions given to Israel is controlled through a democratic process, the billions given to the PLO and Hamas has made a few elite-Palestinians rich beyond their wildest dreams! The three men leading the Hamas political party for example have all become billionaires! not merely multi-millionaires but Billionaires, several times over! It seems many of the nations of the world have determined that war and strife in Israel benefits them more than peace. So rather than creating a path to peace and a blessing for both Israel and the people in the West Bank and Gaza, they enable the conflict, year after year, generation after generation.
How much is England still involved with enabling this conflict? Or us!? How much in the US still involved with enabling this strife between two hurting people!? The Path to peace in Israel begins with the Western Powers, the US and England at the helm, and the other Muslim nations actually working towards peace instead of funding the forever war and enabling the conflict for generations to come. The same complexities that brought strife to Israel since its inception, especially these other “interested parties”, continue still to this day.
If I were living in Gaza or the West Bank (actually I did live in the West Bank for a short time) I would encourage a movement of diaspora, a dispersion of the Palestinian people out of Israel and into the nations of the world, wherever we would be received. If I was a father or grandfather living in the West Bank of Gaza, if I was born a Muslim, I would like to think I would believe my own Quran which teaches the Holy Land was given to the Jews,
I would teach my children and grandchildren that there is no blessing in war but only pain and misery. And I would seek for my family a new and blessed place to immigrate without such strife and contention. No family can thrive under such conditions. I loved the Palestinian people I met and lived with throughout my time in Israel. I could see the pain in their eyes and I grieved with them.
But I did not stop in grief, I also gave them a very valuable message of hope, saying, “You can not live with this bitterness for generation after generation. This hatred is a cancer that will destroy your families.” But a wealthy-elite rules the West Bank and Gaza with a fist of Iron. The Muslim world has something called, “Honor-Killings” in which a father is justified to murder his own children if they dishonor their family!! The West Bank and Gaza need Prophets. They need holy men and men of wisdom and peace to rise up and speak the truth to their people! In the west we call this revival. I don’t know if Revival can come without Jesus Christ? Or if any goodness can come without the love of God? But this is what the Palestinians need.
In closing, the other Muslim nations could do wonders to bless the hurting people of Gaza and the West Bank, obviously I’m not referring to the terrorists who terrorize even their own people! The Muslim world has unbelievable amounts of land and resources they could put to use, easily, to help the Palestinians. In fact, they could make for themselves tremendous wealth by allowing such immigration within their borders, a nation with a little foresight might see the enormous benefits of having such rapid population increase, with such a talented people! The people of Gaza and the West Bank are incredibly industrious, gifted and intelligent, they are world renown for their work ethic and drive!
With a little creativity and faith just imagine how quickly this horrendous conflict could go away! But perhaps the powerful-ruling nations of the world would strive against a true plan for peace? I believe Israel would enable such a plan but many other stake-holder nations would have to agree – but suddenly, the miracle could happen and peace would come to Israel and Jerusalem! The Palestinian people might find for themselves a home and the Middle East might find themselves Blessed!?
But if the nations of the world are content to start World War 3, what can this author say or do about it..?
Plenty to be praying about… More to come…