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The dispute over that thin strip of land called Palestine and Israel has been the single issue in the past fifty years that is dragging the world into disaster. Many Christians have foreseen this great conflict by reading the Bible, but very few really understand how God views it. This book traces the history of that conflict from the beginning.
Category - History and Prophecy
Zionism, by definition, is a movement that envisions the entire Middle East under Jewish ownership. Many Zionists teach that it is their duty to "redeem the land," and by this they mean the land must come under Jewish ownership. The land is redeemed when it is taken from non-Jews, who are said to have "satanic souls," and transferred-one way or another-into Jewish hands.
The underlying problem is that, regardless of their religious claims, these people do not believe either Moses or the prophets. Of course, we write from our Christian perspective. We do not expect adherents of Judaism to agree with Jesus or His followers who wrote the New Testament. Jesus said in John 5:45-47,
45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
Jesus said that the Jews did not believe Moses, and that this was the reason they would not believe Jesus and accept Him as the Messiah. They believed only the traditions of men, which Jesus severely condemned (Matt. 15:1-8). Jesus concluded in verses 7-9,
7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.
These precepts, or traditions, were written down from about 50 B.C. to about 500 A.D. in a body of Jewish literature called the "Talmud." There are actually two Talmuds: the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud, each developed in its own area. This is the sacred literature of Judaism. It is NOT the Bible, not even the Old Testament. In Professor Graetz' book, History of the Jews, Vol. 2, page 634, we read that...
"... the Babylonian Talmud rather than the Jerusalem Talmud became the fundamental possession of the Jewish race, its life breath, its very soul."
Dr. Israel Shahak writes on page 5 of his very scholarly book, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel,
"Jewish fundamentalists believe that the Bible itself is not authoritative unless interpreted correctly by talmudic literature."
Dr. Shahak was an Israeli citizen in Jerusalem for over 40 years until his death on July 2, 2001. He was a professor emeritus of Organic Chemistry at Hebrew University as well as a human rights activist. Dr. Shahak further writes on page 25,
"The teachings of the biblical prophets, the books of Job and Ecclesiastes and numerous other parts of the Bible are studied neither in the heders [elementary schools] nor the yeshivot [talmudic schools of higher learning] and are therefore unknown to the Haredim [fundamentalists]."
Dr. Shahak is telling us that the religious rabbis do not normally study the Bible itself. They study the traditions of men, which is what men SAY the Bible teaches. The Talmud is often diametrically opposed to the teaching of the prophets themselves.
The Talmudic teachings seldom reflected the real teachings of the Bible. It is often assumed among Christian circles that Jews only need to add Jesus to their Judaism in order to get the perfect religion. This is not true. The Talmud plus Jesus does not equal Christianity.
Jesus, prior to His birth in Bethlehem, was the Lawgiver, the God of the Old Testament. Jesus came to manifest to the world the true meaning of the Scriptures, including the Law. He did this by example and by teaching. His teaching contradicted the chauvinistic teaching of the religious leaders of the day. For this reason, instead of repenting of their false teaching and rebellion against God, they crucified Him.
After the fall of Judea and the cessation of the temple rituals in the first century, the rabbis could not help but understand that God had done this to them because of their sin. However, they never believed that they sinned in crucifying the Messiah. Yet the famous Talmudic passage in Tractate Ketubot, page 111, laid the foundation of Jewish thought on the Messiah and the Holy Land. Dr. Shahak writes about this on page 18 of his book,
"... God is said to have imposed three oaths on the Jews. Two of these oaths that clearly contradict Zionist tenets are: 1) Jews should not rebel against non-Jews, and 2) as a group should not massively emigrate to Palestine before the coming of the Messiah. (The third oath, not discussed here, enjoins the Jews not to pray too strongly for the coming of the Messiah, so as not to bring him before his appointed time)... During the past 1,500 years, the great majority of traditional Judaism's most important rabbis interpreted the three oaths and the continued existence of the Jews in exile as religious obligations intended to expiate the Jewish sins that caused God to exile them."
Yet there was one dissenting rabbi named Moshe Nachmanides, who died in the year 1270. Speaking of this rabbi, Dr. Shahak says (p. 19) that he...
"... opined that Jews should not only emigrate to but should also conquer the land of Israel. Other important rabbis of that time and for many centuries thereafter ignored or strongly disagreed with the view of Nachmanides."
"In the 1970's, seven centuries after his death, Nachmanides became the patron saint of the NRP [National Religious Party in the Jewish State] and the Gush Emunim settlers."
The Gush Emunim ("Block of Faithful") is the primary settlement movement in the Jewish State that is messianic in its ideology. That is, while they reject Jesus as the Messiah, they are messianic in that they are looking for another messiah that is more to their liking-such as Barabbas, Bar Kokba, or the Eliezar ben Jair, the leader of the Assassins (Sicarii) at Masada.
The Chief Rabbi of Palestine from 1920-1935 was Avracham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook (1865-1935). He was the primary rabbi who developed the most extreme form of Zionism. In 1935 his son, rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook succeeded him at his death as head of the NRP until his own death in 1981 at the age of 91.
In 1977 the NRP formed a "holy alliance" with the newly-formed coalition of extreme Zionist parties founded by Ariel Sharon with the help of Menachem Begin. It is called the Likud Party. This was when the Gush Emunim began to exert a huge influence on Israeli policies, particularly in regard to the settlement movement in the occupied territories.
Rabbi Kook was primarily influenced by the ideas of Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, who was the founder of the most influential school of Cabbala (Jewish mysticism) in the 16 th century. Luria's book, The Gates of Holiness, taught that all non-Jews have satanic souls. According to Rabbi Hayim Vital, who was Luria's chief interpreter,
"Souls of non-Jews come entirely from the female part of the satanic sphere. For this reason souls of non-Jews are called evil, not good, and are created without [divine] knowledge." [quoted from Shahak's Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, p. 58]
This same teaching was echoed by Rabbi Schneerson, who was the head of the Lubovitcher Hassidic movement and lived in New York until his recent death. On page 59, 60 Dr. Shahak quotes from Schneerson's book of recorded messages entitled, Gatherings of Conversations:
"... the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world... An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness."
This teaching is not new in the circles of Judaism. The Talmudic writing called Midrasch Talpioth says,
"Jehovah created the non-Jew in human form so that the Jew would not have to be served by beasts. The non-Jew is consequently an animal in human form, and condemned to serve the Jew day and night."
Since it seems to be insulting to a Jew to equate Zionism with racism, we will not do so. We leave this for the reader to discern. But the basic doctrine of the Gush Emunim is that other people's land belongs to Jews alone. They get this teaching, not from the Bible, but from the Talmud, where we read in Schulchan Aruch,
"All property of other nations belongs to the Jewish nation, which consequently is entitled to seize upon it without any scruples. An Orthodox Jew is not bound to observe principles of morality towards people of other tribes. He may act contrary to morality, if profitable to himself or to Jews in general."
This Talmudic teaching is their "tradition" of what the Old Testament teaches. As a Christian, I disagree with that tradition, even as I disagree with the Christian tradition that the Jews are to be admired for their Zionistic zeal. In my view, the Bible calls this theft. Later, on page 61 of Dr. Shahak's Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, he mentions:
"Ariel Sharon was the Rebbe's favorite Israeli senior politician. Sharon in turn praised the Rebbe publicly and delivered a moving speech about him in the Knesset after the Rebbe's death.
This sheds much light on the personal ideology of Ariel Sharon in his treatment of non-Jews. It explains why the Arabs hate him above all Israelis.
Ariel Sharon's own autobiography, Warrior, tells us much about him, although he omits many things and lies about that which he is forced to admit. He was just 20 years of age in 1948, so he was too young to join the terrorist organizations of Begin and Shamir during the 1940's. But he then joined the military and soon rose to higher ranks.
On October 14, 1953, Ariel Sharon, commander of "101 Unit," was just 25 years of age when he dynamited 56 houses of Kibbiya (or Qibya) one night, killing 67 civilians who were trapped inside and not allowed to leave. Sharon tells the background of this raid in his own words, writing on pages 85 and 86 of Warrior,
"At times the successes were mixed with tragedy and sometimes controversy, as happened at the village of Kibbiya in mid-October. The raid on Kibbiya was mounted in response to a particularly horrendous incident at the town of Yehud, where terrorists murdered a young mother named Susan Kanias and her two infants, one and three years old, while they were asleep. The police investigation indicated that the killers had infiltrated from the direction of Kibbiya, a Palestinian village near the border ..
"The paratroop officer and I were informed that General Headquarters had decided to carry out a retaliatory operation against Kibbiya....
"This would be the first major Israeli reaction to Arab terrorism."
On page 88, Sharon continues the story:
"The orders were clear. Kibbiya was to be a lesson. I was to inflict as many casualties as I could on the Arab home guard and on whatever Jordanian army reinforcements showed up. I was also to blow up every major building in the town. A political decision had been made at the highest level."
In Sharon's book he excuses himself, claiming he did not know there were people in the houses. He says on pages 89, 90,
"According to the radio, sixty-nine people had been killed, mostly civilians and many of them women and children. I couldn't believe my ears. As I went back over each step of the operation, I began to understand what must have happened. For years Israeli reprisal raids had never succeeded in doing more than blowing up a few outlying buildings, if that. Expecting the same, some Arab families must have stayed in their houses rather than running away. In those big stone houses where three generations of a family might live together, some could easily have hidden in the cellars and back rooms, keeping quiet when the paratroopers went in to check and yell out a warning. The result was this tragedy that had happened."
Sharon tries hard to make people think this was just a "tragedy," over which he had no control. And yet he says specifically that his orders were to inflict as many casualties as possible. Where did he expect those casualties to come from, if not from civilians ? It was, after all, a "reprisal raid" for an attack on a civilian Jewish woman and her two children, killed by an Arab "terrorist" who had no right to oppose Zionist immigration and conquest of his own land.
The incident forced David Ben-Gurion, Israel 's first Prime Minister, to make a public apology for Sharon 's actions. However, Sharon makes it clear that he was only acting under orders-Ben Gurion's orders! Ben Gurion had ordered the attack and then had retreated on vacation to allow Prime Minister Moshe Sharrat to take the blame for the murder. This is confirmed by Sharrat's diary, which his son published in 1977 after his father's death. Extensive quotations translated into English are made in Livia Rokach's book, Israel's Sacred Terrorism. Pages 15-17 show that Sharrat objected to the operation, but was powerless to stop it.
Of course, Sharon 's willingness to murder Arabs is why he rose in the ranks of the military. Sharon writes a very revealing paragraph on page 250 of his book, Warrior,
"Years before, not too long after I had taken over the paratroopers, Dayan had once said to me, 'Do you know why you're the one who does all the operations? Because you never ask for written orders. Everyone else wants explicit clarifica-tions. But you never need it in writing. You just do it.' Now it was almost twenty years later and absolutely nothing had changed. Anyone other than Dayan would have carefully formulated an order describing what should be done and defining the parameters of the intended action. But from him there was only a signal, the nod of a head. That meant, as it always had, 'Do what you want. If you succeed, fine. If it backfires, don't start looking to me for support'."
So we see the typical way in which Israeli politics was conducted in the years that the Labor Party was in power. They supported terrorism, but did not want to be held liable for their terrorism. So they hired Sharon as their "hit man" to do the dirty work for them. He was happy to do it without written orders, so this would always maintain the fiction that the political leaders were not responsible. It is called "plausible deniability."
Sharon's account of his own innocence is contradicted by Alexander Cockburn's Feb. 6, 2001 article for Upstream, entitled "Ariel Sharon-the People's Choice?" where we read,
" Sharon 's order was to penetrate Qibya, blow up houses and inflict heavy casualties on its inhabitants. His success in carrying out the order surpassed all expectations... Sharon and his men claimed that they believed that all the inhabitants had run away, and that they had no idea that anyone was hiding inside the houses.
" The UN observer who inspected the scene reached a different conclusion. 'One story was repeated time after time: the bullet splintered door, the body sprawled across the threshold, indicating that the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside until their homes were blown up over them.'
"The U.S. Department of State issued a statement on 18 October 1953, expressing its 'deepest sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives' in the Qibya attack as well as the conviction that those responsible 'should be brought to account and that effective measures should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future'."
Sharon, of course, was never brought to trial, nor was he held accountable in any way. Ultimately, he was elected Prime Minister. Such murders continued unabated, all justified as retaliatory strikes against "Arab terrorism." Sharon himself has never wanted peace and has actively worked against any peace arrangement, believing that the only solution is to drive all Arabs off the land. This has been the consistent policy of the Gush Emunim's settlement movement, backed by Sharon.
Zionism started out as a movement to allow Jews to purchase land in Palestine and live peaceably with their neighbors who may not want to sell their family inheritance. But as time progressed, Zionism became degraded into sheer covetousness. To covet another man's land is sin. In fact, covetousness is the most insidious form of idolatry (Col. 3:5). There is nothing wrong with desiring someone else's land, if one abides by the basic laws of humanity. If you want land, then buy it. If you steal it or obtain it by fraud, then it is covetousness and idolatry. Zionists may object to this, but nothing will change this simple fact.
Their main thrust has been to confiscate land and establish Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank territory, while at the same time making laws extremely confining and oppressive in order to "encourage" Arabs to leave the country. These Zionists would like nothing better than to have peace-so long as the Arabs move out of the Jewish state and give their land to the "rightful owners." They have no plans to rule the Arab population with justice and equity. How can you rule them with justice after you have stolen their lands and harshly repressed all who attempt to regain them? True peace is possible only when there is either justice or abject slavery of the victims of injustice.
The settlement movement itself has become the primary successor of the terrorist movements in the 1940's. The settlement of Elon Moreh was built in 1979 upon land expropriated from the Arab town of Rujeb. The Israeli military stole the land on the grounds of "national security," the catch-all phrase that seems to justify all theft. But it was later proven in court that the settlement was actually detrimental to national security, because in case of war, it would tie up troops there to protect the settlers. The high court on October 22, 1979 decided to dismantle Elon Moreh.
Six months later, however, the extremists, led by Ariel Sharon and others, prevailed upon the Israeli Cabinet to expropriate all land that had been previously owned by Jordan, as well as all land that was not officially registered or under cultivation. No longer did the settlement movement have to justify their land theft on the grounds of "national security." Of course, much of the Arab land had been in their families for generations, extending far back into the days of the Ottoman Empire. Many of them did not have their land officially registered. Thus, April 1980 began the great Arab Land Grab, which is still the single most explosive issue today. It is a policy of legalized theft, and, having no effective legal recourse, those who object violently only give the Israelis more excuses to confiscate land.
Out of the Elon Moreh case in 1979 the Peace Now movement was formed to counter the extremists in the settlement movement. To their credit, a huge groundswell of Israelis joined their ranks until violent Arab reaction of their own turned many Israelis against Peace Now. Many Israelis recognize that the Palestinians are being abused, but when Arab militants fight Jewish terrorism with terrorism of their own, they lose the propaganda war and expend the moral high ground on the morbid satisfaction of seeing Jewish blood spilt. Not being students of the Scriptures, they do not see that their tactics are of the old Jerusalem, rather than the New Jerusalem. Both sides are convinced that violence and terrorism is the way to resolve the issue. Neither side looks to Jesus Christ for the answer. And so, more and more blood will be shed until the people are satiated with their bloody religious principles.
By now, with all the violence on both sides, most Americans have long forgotten the original sin that started the conflict. The entire issue has been simplified to a few basic tenets, such as the Zionist claim of "the right to exist." It is not a question of existence-as if the alternative to Zionism is Jewish "nonexistence" (i.e., genocide). It is not even a question of the existence of a state in which Jews may live. The question is whether or not Jews have the right to dispossess the Palestinian population by force and take all the land for themselves.
Shall Jews be given full citizenship, while all others-if allowed to remain at all-should be second-class citizens with fewer rights? Are Jews justified in treating Palestinians as Canaanites, making them "hewers of wood and drawers of water" (Joshua 9:27)? If so, does this also include the thousands of Palestinian Christians?
Consider the case of the village of Birim, a town that has been dead for over fifty years. Israel Shamir [http://www.hoffman-info.com/palestine41.html] wrote about this Christian village in his article, "Exposing the Big Lie About Muslims and Christians":
"It was not ruined by war. Its Christian inhabitants were expelled from their houses well after the 1948 war. They were told to leave for a week or two for 'security' reasons. They had no option but to believe the Israeli officers and move out. Their village was dynamited, their church surrounded by barbed wire. They went to Israeli court, they went to the government, commissions were appointed and petitions signed. Nothing helped. Ever since, for 50 years, they have lived in the nearby villages and on Sundays they continue to visit their church. Their lands were seized by their Jewish neighbors, but they still bring their dead to be buried in the church graveyard, under the sign of the cross."
It is refreshing to hear from Israelis who are concerned with the basic principles of justice for all people, instead of the narrow nationalistic view that whatever benefits Zionists is always good.
The same situation as in Birim still exists with the now-deserted Christian villages of Kafr Baram and Ikrit. In 1948, when the Israeli army asked them to evacuate for about two weeks, they left eighteen men to guard their property and sought shelter in a nearby village. In 1953 the Land Acquisition Act gave the "uninhabited" land to the government. The army blew up the houses as the villagers watched from a nearby "hill of tears," and the trucks hauled away the ruins. Such has been common practice. Force the inhabitants to move away for a short time, then do not let them return, then finally confiscate "uninhabited" land.
Question: Did the biblical God approve of this? Will Zionist Christians also justify these land thefts in the name of Jesus Christ? Are Christians, too, mere second-class citizens in the eyes of God? Is the Kingdom of God divided into Jewish rulers and Christian hewers of wood and drawers of water? Was "the middle wall of partition" (Eph. 2:14) rebuilt in 1948? If so, who rebuilt it? Certainly not Jesus Christ. But the Church has conspired to help the Zionists rebuild it.
Lilienthal tells of another law that the Israeli government passed in order to "legally" expropriate Arab land. He writes on pages 116-118 of The Zionist Connection II,
"Under the Cultivation of Wastelands ordinance, the government was authorized to take over land not cultivated. Since the declaration of a security zone results in the area not being cultivated, it could then be taken over by the government and given to Jewish settlers, who were permitted to enter and cultivate it. By these and similar means, as early as 1965 some 3,125,000 acres... more than 60 percent of the land of Arab Israelis who had never left Israel, had been confiscated.
"Not only did the Palestinians lose their land, they also lost their right to work on the land... The minister of Agriculture under Regulation 125 has been permitted to expropriate 'fallow' lands. First, the owner is told he cannot work the land, after a certain period of time the area becomes fallow and the Agricultural Minister can then expropriate it. A former Minister of Defense said regarding this regulation: 'The 125 th Paragraph on which the military government bases itself in great measure is a direct continuation of the struggle for Jewish settlement and immigration'."
It was the Zionists who thus took the land from the Palestinians-not the other way around. The Arabs did not drive the Jews out of Palestine. The Arabs did not settle the land until the seventh century A.D. It was the Romans who dispersed the Jews-or rather, it was God who sent His armies to do the job (Matt. 22:7). The Arab population is not at fault and should not be forced to give land to Jews who may covet it for themselves.
Modern Zionism is based upon the assumption that God gave Palestine to the Jews, and that this means the Arabs are living on land that is not theirs. Zionists justify all acts of violence, oppression, and unjust laws against the Arab population by this basic assumption. All Arabs living on land claimed by Israel are treated as if they had stolen land from the Jews. Anyone who disagrees with their immoral sense of justice is "biased."
Well, let me make a point perfectly clear, in case the reader has not already discovered this: I am totally biased against violent Zionism that, in the name of God, perpetrates injustice upon the Arabs and upon peace-loving Zionists. I am biased by the divine law. I am biased by the prophets of the Bible. I am biased by Jesus and the writings of His disciples. Nothing in this old Jerusalem method reflects the Golden Rule in any shape or form. Nor did Jesus at any time advocate that the Judeans in His day uproot or declare war upon the Samaritans, who had occupied a large portion of the land for seven centuries. Not once did Jesus advocate violence against the Romans. I cannot comment extensively upon the moral principles of Judaism and its various branches, but there is no excuse for Christians to support this violence and theft.
If Christians must support this on the grounds that the Jews are God's chosen people and are privileged to sin with immunity, then what will they say when the Jews lay claim to both Syria and Jordan, as well as Egyptian territory all the way to Nile River ? Will they treat the Syrians and Jordanians in the same way they now treat the Palestinians?
Where will it end? When will the bloodshed and injustice cease? Ultimately, these extreme Zionists will demand to rule over the entire world, on the grounds that the God of Israel is to be the God of the whole earth (Is. 54:5). I do not doubt that the Kingdom of God will include the whole earth at some point in time. In fact, I look forward to that day myself. The problem is in the method of achieving that goal. Will it be done by the power of the sword or by the power of the Spirit? Will covetous men rule the world by fear, or will the overcomers rule in love?