QUESTION: Why has the Gaza Strip been quiet lately?
ANSWER: Because medical personnel there have been receiving test kits and medical equipment from Israel requested by the Gazans. The Gazans don’t want the Israeli assistance to cease. Therefore, they are behaving themselves.
GOOD NEWS: In Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the receipt of test kits and medical equipment from Israel requested by medical personnel there. “Handling the coronavirus outbreak takes precedence over any political consideration, and without help from Israel, Gaza would be in a very difficult situation in the case of an outbreak,” said an Israeli ministry official (Daniel Siryoti, “Why is the Gaza Strip calm these days? Hamas knows the answer,” Israel Hayom, (March 10, 2020).
In the last week of February alone, Israel permitted more than 100,000 Palestinians to enter Israel for medical treatment. Nearly 70,000 more were admitted the first week of March. On March 10, COGAT “coordinated the transfer of 20 tons of disinfectant material from Israeli plants to Palestinian plants. The materials included chlorine and hydrogen peroxide, used for disinfection, preservation of hygiene and sanitation” (@cogatonline, March 1 and 10, 2020).
In addition, in Mid-April, Israel provided a loan to the Palestinian Authority to help avert an economic and humanitarian crisis (Tovah Lazaroff, “Israel loans PA money, FM warns against Palestinian COVID-19 crisis,” Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2020). (The above information has been taken from “Jewish Virtual Library”)
GRATIFYING: In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey was taken on April 22-23. It indicated that a higher-than-usual percentage of Israelis--both Arab and Jewish--feel an integral part of the State of Israel. 92.5% of the Jews living there and 77% of Arab Israelis identify with Israel and feel that they share a common destiny “very much” or “quite a lot.” That’s high—the highest in a decade. Last year, only 42% of the Israeli Arabs indicated that they felt part of the state. We can guess the reason for this change in the attitude of the Arab Israelis.
SLANDER: BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions against Israel) Professor Asad Abukhalil of Cal State University: tweeted, “Israel will—I am sure—have different medical procedures for Jews and non-Jews. Non-Jews will be put in mass prisons.”
The “Students for Justice in Palestine” chapter at the University of Maryland planned a conference on March 10, 2020, suggesting Israel is at least to blame for exacerbating the virus problem in the territories [among the Palestinians].
PREDICTION: The fact that Israel is providing life-saving medical care to Palestinians, a practice that preceded the virus pandemic, will probably also make little difference to propagandists who make the specious claim that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing.
IRONY: The BDS Movement (Remember: Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) which originated in Palestine but is very strong on many American university campuses cannot be pleased. Why? Such cooperation is counter to the anti-normalization campaign of the BDS movement. Yes, that’s right—the BDS Movement wants there to be NO cooperation with the Israelis, including the health of the Palestinians, it seems.
SO BAD: From Israel’s Institute For Contemporary Affairs – Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: “Since the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, we are witness to anti-Semitic expressions that denote the Jews, in general, and Israel, specifically, as those who have developed the virus and are responsible for its propagation. The anti-Israel BDS community and the Palestinian establishment have been leveraging the coronavirus to defame Israel."
REFUTATION: “The facts are unimportant to them. In practice, Israel cooperates with the Palestinians in treating the coronavirus, transfers large amounts of medical equipment for their use, and advises medical teams in Gaza and the West Bank on how to treat the disease.” (Jewish Virtual Library)
STATEMENTS OF ISLAMIC SCHOLARS
From Egypt: Mohammed Al-Hefnawi Al-Ansari – “Thank you corona! This pandemic that has spread everywhere is good despite being a plague. When the people stopped enjoying good and forbidding evil, the coronavirus came to enjoy good and to forbid evil.” Hm-m.
From Jordan: Islamic Scholar Dr. Ahmad Al-Shahrouri – “Coronavirus and Zionism are both pandemics we need to fight.” Zionism should be fought like coronavirus is being fought because it is also a pandemic. He also said that Westerners’ use of toilet paper is an indication that they have poor hygiene. (MEMRI TV Clip No. 7920)
FROM THE SCRIPTURES (PSALMS 64 ESV)
Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked…
Who whet their tongues like swords,
Who aim bitter words like arrows,
Shooting from ambush at the blameless…
ISRAELI RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN CORONAVIRUS
Ben-Gurion University Researchers Developing Coronavirus Test that is 8 Times Faster. They are using AI to develop an algorithm-based test that can speed Covid-19 testing eightfold and help locate asymptomatic carriers. This new test is just one of 50 initiatives as part of the Ben-Gurion University Covid-19 response. (Daily Alert & from B-G University) Ben-Gurion University is a relatively new university located in the Negev Desert in Beer-Sheba. (or Beer-Sheva)
One of Israel’s new start-up companies is “CLEW Medical.” This company’s mission is to provide health care workers with high accuracy analysis and predictions of a patient’s outcome. Using artificial intelligence, it detects respiratory deterioration in advance, enabling early interventions and allows healthcare workers to identify disease severity from a remote command center and then act accordingly. This is now undergoing extensive testing at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass and WakeMed in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Jerusalem Post, April 17-23, 2020)
REPORT ON ISRAEL’S CORONAVIRUS DEATH TOLL. Israel’s death toll is 202. 129 are in serious condition. There are 383 coronavirus patients receiving treatment in hospitals (coming down) and 1,775 in specially designated hotels (down from 2,501) a few days ago, 796 have recovered. (Ynet News and Daily Report)
FROM THE SCRIPTURES: (PSALMS 124 ESV)
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side--
let Israel now say--
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive….
then the flood would have swept us away….
Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth!...
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
As with the ancient Hebrews on approaching the land reported that there were giants there, so, with every Jewish return to the land since then, there is fierce opposition. But in every case, the “giants” weakened and in good time were overcome.
In the very first modern “alijahs” (the Hebrew word meaning “to go up” to the land) in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there were two mighty giants there—first the Ottoman Empire. It took the First World War to fell that giant.
After that war, Palestine was placed in the hand of the British Empire-- the second giant. That giant was supposed to be benevolent—called “a protectorate”, assisting the Jews in their efforts to establish a nation. The Second World War felled Britain as a viable empire.
The Jewish leaders thought Britain would be the ideal protectorate for Palestine. But the relations very quickly got nasty.
THE COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION
In 1919 The Military Administration of Britain moved out of Palestine, and the Colonial Office moved in. The generals exited, and the bureaucrats took over.
The British Colonial Code existed to develop and acquire cheap raw material from the dominated country and then manufacture goods with that material. Finally, they would take the finished product back to the subservient country to sell it for hefty profits. Its officials were men of cold reserve and had no feelings for Jewish sufferings.
But the Zionists/Jews in Palestine didn’t really need Britain to develop Palestine. They began developing it themselves as soon as they entered. Even though they were professionals and intellectuals back in their European countries of origin, they had already trained themselves in land development, building and infrastructure.
The Jewish development of Palestine was phenomenal. The British Mandates Commission in 1935 described the Jewish performance as an amazing record of progress—“the most notable colonization undertaking of modern times.” And the Brits had seen a lot of those undertakings. If they were unsuccessful one way, with unshakable willpower they tried another.
Regardless of that affirmation of Jewish endeavors, The Colonial Administration after the First World War began looking at the Jews with disdain. The literature of anti-Semitism at the time was flooding the book market. “The world Jewish plot” was the bait by which the Zionists were accused. In London, officials of the Colonial Office took Palestinian-Jewish tax revenue and with it actually organized a campaign to de-legitimize the Zionist effort!
Let’s get down to some specifics on how this anti-Zionist fever was institutionalized.
September, 1923: The Palestine Mandate was issued by the League of Nations. Point #1 of it makes it obligatory upon the administration of Palestine “to facilitate Jewish immigration.” Well, the British Colonial Office did everything it could to lessen Jewish immigration to the Holy Land! They sided with the Arabs who claimed that the land was already overpopulated and couldn’t assimilate any more Jews. At the time, there were less than a million residents. Today, in the reduced land, there are over nine million, and no one now says that Israel is overpopulated.
The Colonial Office Immigration Department acted more like an FBI than a facilitator. Anxious Jews were being turned away at the docks of Jaffa and Haifa while industries were frustrated with labor shortages.
A spirit of despondency set in to the Jewish community. Yet, Jewish ingenuity and hard work was truly making the saying fit: “The desert shall bloom like a rose.” While most other countries were suffering from the Great Depression in the 1930’s was rapidly increasing production.
Jewish farmers were the first to create markets, advertise, grade and select and introduce new varieties. EXAMPLE: In 1936, their average milk production per cow was 3695 quarts annually compared with the Arab average of just 845 quarts. EXAMPLE: Likewise with Jewish industry: In 1930 the Brits “proved” that there was no more land for development and thus the industrial outlook was hopeless. But in the time from 1930 to 1936, the Jewish community increased factories from 2274 to 4615. The Brits had warned that it would be very bad and possibly fatal to attract large capital for “doubtful industries” in Palestine. But in that 6-year period, industrial output went from 2,100,000 lbs. to 9,109,330.
On and on we could go.
In the 1930’s the major Jewish settlements were in the coastal plain and valleys around Haifa and Tel Aviv. Scores of settlements were located there. But the roads were few and inadequate. The British plans for roads were only to Arab villages. And that is the way it was and remained despite constant coaxing by the Jewish residents. And…get this: the Colonial Administration denied the colonists permission to build the roads themselves in their free time. The two main roads through Palestine went to Jordan. Ziff says that “for two decades Jewish colonists pled to deaf ears, issuing volumes of protest that would fill a library.”
* * * * * * * * * *
SO, OUR OBSERVATION: One element in the English peoples was pro-Zionist/pro-Jewish represented by David Lloyd-George and Arthur Balfour. The other element, represented by the Colonial Administration of Great Britain, was crassly materialistic, imperialist-driven and clearly anti-Semitic.
CONCLUSION: The Jewish people are a work of God; they are called by Him and given gifts. (Though they are sinful witnesses.) Therefore, they are a conundrum.
The talents that are given to His Chosen People are striking, and the Gentiles cannot understand such things unless they take into account that God the Lord has called this people—called them to stand out in order to make Him known. Unless we acknowledge this, we, in my opinion, will not understand “Israel the Chosen.” (My book title)
We will pursue this theme in coming blogs. Next week I intend to report on what the Israelis are doing to shorten the time the world will have to contend with the corona virus.
In the early 20th century the British reactions were representative of the world’s reactions. Some see and believe in the God of history—the sovereign God—through His strange and mighty acts. Others are skeptical and preoccupied with reaching a selfish goal. They do not believe. They are crassly materialistic and filled with enmity, in this case, towards the Chosen People. And they make more than their share of trouble.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
-- The picture above is of Lord Arthur Balfour, author of "The Balfour Declaration," a public statement promoting Palestine as a homeland for the Jewish People.
Towards the end of World War I, the fate of empires was at stake. The Ottoman Empire (The Turks), without doubt, would be defeated. Who would take the spoils?
It would be largely Britain and France that would decide.
Britain wanted Palestine. Under the Ottomans, Palestine had been a mere province in Syria. Get that? Pretty amazing considering the narrative that Palestinians promote today as to the importance of Palestine. Yes, it was only a backwater province under the Muslim Ottoman Empire.
The British General Allenby took it late in that war.
William B. Ziff in The Rape of Palestine writes: “The surrender of Jerusalem coincided exactly with the Feast of Hanukkah, which commemorates the recapture of the Temple from the heathen Seleucids by Judas Maccabeus in the year 165 B. C.” Wow! “Lending color to this coincidence, the Englishman, General Allenby said, on entering the city: ‘We have come not as conquerors but as deliverers.” (From the book The Rape of Palestine by William B. Ziff) A nice statement.
The British wanted to be the Protector of Palestine—to work to develop a nation in what previously had been just a province in a Muslim empire. Why did they want this? Many reasons, but here are three main ones:
First, they wanted a land route to India which Palestine would provide.
Second, they wanted to keep Russia out of the Middle East.
Third, some British leaders wanted Palestine for religious purposes. They believed it was time for the Chosen people to get that land.
Stay with me on this brief history.
Some of Britain’s principal leaders carried a lot of sympathy for the Jewish people. They had been steeped in Old Testament history and believed that God wanted His people back in the land. Prime Minister Lloyd-George was one of these. Lord Balfour was another.
Lloyd-George was not educated in an exclusive English public school that stressed the Greek and Latin classics; he was brought up on the Bible. He frequently commented that the place names of the Bible were more familiar to him than the places that figured in the European war. He was brought up in a Disciples of Christ Church in Wales. Hm-m.
There were a considerable number of Jews in Palestine, and a lot in Jerusalem. Quite a few were Zionists--new Jewish immigrants—the beginning of the Zionist state. They really wanted the British to be in control while the foundations of the Jewish National Home were being laid.
And so the Brits took it. The official document making this official is The Balfour Declaration. But not much time elapsed before it became apparent that the entire British military administration was uncompromisingly opposed to the letter and spirit of the Balfour Declaration. The British generals virtually refused to carry out London’s
orders. They didn’t care one whit for the Jews/Zionists.
UNDER THE MILITARY ADMINISTRATION
In April, 1918, General Allenby set up the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration to make the transition easy from the Ottoman administration to the British. But the officials in the British military administration immediately dissociated themselves from what they called the British ”Zionizing” policy! The chairman of the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration in a display of anti-Semitism said that the “Jews of Jerusalem were bringing up the rising generation in their schools to be dirty, idle wasters….Their men turn out more idle wasters and their women more prostitutes than the rest of the population put together.” And, he regarded the Jews as an inferior class morally and intellectually. (p. 89, Righteous Victims: Morris: ) Mercy!
Despite the Jews having a majority of the population of Jerusalem, the British Army made the city administration two-thirds Arabic. Horace Samuel wrote: The British officers there regarded the Balfour Declaration as damn nonsense, the Jews as a damn nuisance, and ……..and the Arabs as damn good fellows.”
Before the League of Nations put the Palestine Mandate into effect wherein Palestine would be declared the homeland of the Jewish people by this international organization, the British Military, with conscious purpose, proceeded to foster conflict between the Jews and Arabs, which encouraged the Arabs to make trouble instead of peace!
The generals themselves, according to Ziff, conceived of a pogrom (organized harassment and massacre) in Jerusalem against the Jews, hoping it would provide impetus to the death of the Jewish organization! They supplied the Arab opposition with funds and wrote the anti-Jewish documents for the Arabs. Their intent: the end of Zionism wherein the League of Nations would be forced to favor the Arab native population and crush the Zionist program!
These planned riots were well-timed to hurt the Jewish population. Muslim crowds had gathered for a festival in Jerusalem. The Jewish policemen had been relieved from duty in the ‘Old City’ where most of the Jews lived.
The author, William Ziff, wrote: “Jerusalem had undergone an orgy of slaughter, rape, torture and sack. Everywhere homes and stores were wrecked. Sixty innocents lay dead, and innumerable victims were injured.” And, get this, it
was Zionist Jews that were sentenced to prison--15 years at hard labor!
My beloved Englishmen (my family origins), how could you do this?
But as the news was broadcast to the world, it brought about a huge wave of protests. As it was, England had her hands full with difficulties in Ireland and India, and she couldn’t afford to have her national reputation smeared with this.
So the British officials retreated under a torrent of condemnation.
As for the Jewish leaders at that time, Ziff says they reacted like scared puppy dogs.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Just as Israel’s ancient approach to the Promised Land was challenging and their battles were many to secure the land, so with the modern day return to the Land. It has been fraught with many difficulties and extreme hardships due to fierce opposition.
This is only the beginnings of British opposition. I have presented a sampling of difficulties the Jewish immigrant-Zionists faced under the Military Administration. Next week, I will elucidate some of the excessively-severe anti-Jewish ordinances and policies put into effect by the Colonial Administration.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
Your name endures through all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion;
For it is time to favor it.
(Psalms 102:12-13 NRSV)
14th Day of Nissan
On that first original Passover night, the blood from the sacrificed animal was to be smeared on the door posts and lintel and possibly threshold of the house. Then the meat, being roasted was to be hastily eaten with belt fastened--ready to leave the home and enslaved condition.
But, before the Israelites got out of Egypt, the Land of Bondage, they were commanded to kill the lamb, take the blood and eat the sacrifice.
Why? Because they were a motley group of people about to be born a nation—chosen by the Most Holy God! And the Holy God required that propitiation be made for that sinful congregation.
NOTE: This is the first time that the Children of Israel were called “a congregation.” Not since their first complaints about their bondage in slavery was it recorded that they would do something together—with one accord—the 10th day of the month and year just beginning. At that point, they would select the unblemished kid or lamb to sacrifice to the Lord; and at dusk of the 14th day, the whole congregation would kill the lambs together.
This corporate action would take place at full moon so that all Egypt would be able to see. They could see the smearing of blood on the lintel and sides of the doorways of the Israelites and would be able to inquire of the meaning of this action.
Then, the Lord, or His angel, would go through the land and strike death to the firstborn of every household with the exception of those whose house displayed the blood of the lamb. For, says the Lord God,
On all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood [of the sacrifices] will be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you,
and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12, ESV)
Later, Passover became an annual feast and was observed at the tabernacle and later the temple. “There you shall offer the Passover sacrifice.”
(In addition, other offerings/sacrifices were included in the cultic system such as the burnt offering, sin offering and peace offering.)
The primary purpose of animal sacrifice was to make atonement for sin. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls." (Leviticus 18:11)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Later, the temple was the place to offer the Passover sacrifices. But when that was destroyed by the Romans, what then? At that point, the whole cult of the sacrificial system had no city. No center. No place for the congregation of Israel. It was finished—all of the sacrifices including the burnt offering--finished.
And the priesthood was declared null and void.
But the prayers and the prayer books expanded as if there were still a temple, a priesthood and altars—on and on as if to take up all the time required to offer a sacrifice.
Let me quote some Jewish authors:
David S. Ariel: What Do Jews Believe? “Torah learning, prayer and moral goodness became the central rituals of Judaism.” Moral goodness a ritual? And this: “Formal prayer was made an alternative to the sacrifices.” Hm-m.
This one from Hillel Halkin, a well-known essayist, author, translator—a man of the world and a Reform (liberal) Jew, comments on the newer Siddur (prayerbook). As you will see, words cannot convey what the blood can:
“The flow of blood always shocks. It mesmerizes. Even cutting a finger causes a shiver of horror and excitement through us that no pain or ache can duplicate. The few drops that are quickly staunched by a
band-aid are the life beginning to leave us. The blood gushing from an animal’s throat at an altar needs no words. It is wordless prayer, just as prayer is bloodless sacrifice…But the traditional "musaf" (meaning "additional prayer") expressed a passionate wish… the wish to be able to offer to God what is most precious— and what is most precious is not words that we say day in and day out. Words are what the siddur (prayer book)has accumulated, more and more of them, as though in the fear that there can never be enough….None grabs us and shakes us until we feel faint. We yearn for the prayer that cuts to the quick like a knife.”
(Jewish Review of Books, Spring, 2010)
NOTE: that word “Musaf” which means an additional part of the service
What is additional? ANSWER: More praying. More and more praying making the congregants tired. But that extra praying is intended to be sufficient to make up for no sacrifice on an altar. REPEAT: Ariel and Halkin are exposing the vacuum in Judaism: more praying has become just a substitute for the real thing—SACRIFICE.
Says Halkin, we the Jews yearn, not for more and more prayers, but for the sacrifice in the worship…for that which will cut us to the quick.
We know that the Orthodox Jews yearn for the sacrifice. But the worldly, liberal, Reform Jews like Halkin and his liberal friends--they, too, in their hearts—even some of them long for that shocking flow of blood that grabs and shakes the worshipper. In their hearts, they miss the real thing--the blood of the lamb spilt. That, more than all the words in prayer, more than even those mosefs--the additional prayers--would cut to the quick and dramatize the atonement made for sinful lives.
* * * * * * * * *
But we cannot conclude this essay until we do recognize the true Passover that does indeed transfix the world. Yes, the place was Jerusalem on Mount Golgotha where Abraham travelled to sacrifice Isaac (and was stopped by the angel)….and the spot where the Holy Lamb of God—Yeshua (Jesus) was taken to be poured out as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Truly shocking! “Behold the Lamb of God.”
In Genesis chapter 26, we have a story of contentiousness.
Isaac, son of Abraham, moved to Gerar where his father Abraham had previously lived. There he became rich with huge flocks of cattle, sheep and many servants. He also found that all the wells his father’s servants had dug had been stopped up and filled by the Philistines.
The scripture says,
“Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham.”
When Isaac’s men re-dug the first one, the residents of Gerar “quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, ‘The water is OURS.’” So Isaac named the well “Esek” meaning “contention.” Then Isaac went some distance and re-dug another well; and…the residents again contended with Isaac. So Isaac named the well “Sitnah,” meaning “enmity.”
Those residents of ancient Gerar would have nothing to do with those wells that Abraham dug. So they stopped them up. Then when son Isaac re-dug them, they showed their enmity again by claiming that the wells were theirs.
Fast Forward to the mid-1800’s: Look at what was going on in Palestine a few decades before the Jews began to return to that land.
- constant feuding between rival local chieftains.
--unceasing attacks by neighboring Bedouin tribes driving many peasants (called fellah) into the hills or out of the country.
- the conquest by the Egyptians in 1831 and the re-conquest of the Turks in 1840
- constant blood-feuds between families, clans and entire villages as to land ownership.
(This is taken from two old history books: Land Ownership in Palestine by Moshe Aumann and Whose Land? by James Parkes. The first book is authored by a Jew and the second by an Anglican clergyman/historian.)
This strife resulted in a sense of insecurity and a decrease in population as people fled elsewhere.
Adding to that, the burden of taxation was responsible for many farmers leaving the land, leaving it without cultivation to become barren.
This situation puts the lie to the claim that the Palestinian rural economy was interrupted by Jewish immigration and settlement. The British writer, H. B. Tristram. (The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1865). In 1865, he wrote as follows:
A few years ago, the whole Ghor (Jordan Valley) was in the hands of the fellahim (peasants) and much of it cultivated for corn. Now the whole of it is in the hands of the Bedouin….and with the Bedouin come lawlessness and the uprooting of all Turkish authority…..Both in the north and south (of the Sharon plain), land is going out of cultivation, and whole villages are rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth.
A writer more familiar is Mark Twain who, after visiting Palestine, wrote this dirge-like description:
Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren…the valleys are unsightly deserts…It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land. Over it brooks the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. (Mark Twain: The Innocents Abroad, Hartford: The American Publishing Company, Dover Edition, 2003)
A British Christian historian, James Parkes:
In the wars between villages it was far too common a practice to cut down fruit trees and olives and to destroy crops….Bedouins freely destroyed the cisterns….malaria became endemic and the unlucky peasants fled elsewhere or starved in the towns…. (Parkes: Whose Land? 1949, 1970)
On and on goes Parkes’ sad tale and description of Palestine.
Is it any surprise then that when large numbers of Jewish immigrants were entering Palestine in the early 20th century, when they set up business there and when the total population was growing, that the Arab/Palestinians produced turmoil and provoked rioting from time to time? Accusations flew from the mouths of the Arabs: for example, “the Jews are going to take control of our temple mount.” The British Peel Commission, after much investigation, found that Arab complaints about land acquisition were without basis and that the Jewish presence actually resulted in higher wages and an improved standard of living.
I received a report just last week that Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture, run by Hamas, has been reporting that Israeli authorities have opened water dams to channel wastewater into Palestinian farmlands. This action, they said, was damaging crops, destroying apiaries, causing the death of cows and sheep and causing soil erosion.
But it’s just a part of their war of words. In southern Israel, there are no dams of the type that can be opened. (originally from the Palestinian Information Center, Jan. 5, 2020)
The enmity which brings contention is still there….and is still directed outwards toward many others, but especially towards God’s Chosen People.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Those looking on at the strife today ask: “When will it end?”
Well, let me submit these points:
First of all, as those of you know who read these blogs, I believe that God uses the harassment and persecution of the Jews to unify Israel. They need help to become unified, and lots of it. Why? Because they have a problem with fractiousness/dissension. Religiously, they have everything from the ultra-Orthodox to ultra-liberal. Philosophically, they have everything from socialism to Talmudism. Population wise, they are made up of a number of ethnic groups and colors. And yes, they do have a problem with racism within their ranks.
QUESTION: So, how can they unify? ANSWER: Through their defense. Every young person serves. Thus, the army becomes the force that aids greatly in consolidating the Israeli people into one nation.
Could I be judicious and still make this statement? The Lord has provided, or permitted them to have, sufficient enemies to help unify the nation of Israel?
Furthermore, there is more peace in the land of Israel now that it is controlled by the Jews than there was previous to their return to the land....and since the nations around Israel have given up trying to obliterate it.
Thirdly, those who become the chosen of God can always expect the world’s enmity. That’s just the way it is. They are different because of being the Lord’s.
So, this people--chosen of the Lord, will meet with….well…anti-Semitism. For they are the descendants of Isaac.
This week I want to add a bit to what I wrote last week about how the Church through the ages has looked on the Jews.
I’m sad when I see disrespect for the people God has chosen even though I know there are, to be sure, Jews who are corrupt and even though I know that this people has, as a whole, not accepted their Messiah.
Yet, they still are God’s Chosen Ones. See how the Apostle Paul loved his people, the Jews, even though they persecuted him in every city he entered. He insisted that the covenant and the gifts from that covenant are still intact and still theirs!
Replacement theology argues that the Church—believers in Christ—have replaced Israel in the scheme of things pertaining to the Covenant—that is, in God’s plan. The church is “the new Israel” as St. Paul put it. And the people who are believers in Christ are also children of Abraham. And, as a result, the promises of land in the Old Testament and the promises of the return to the land by the Israelites is no longer in force, say the “replacement theology” people.
But other quotes from St. Paul very firmly state the continuing status of Israel and the validity of the Abrahamic Covenant. Listen…here is Paul saying this:
“They are the Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 9:4-5)
What we are saying is this: “God has enlarged the covenant in Jesus Christ at the same time as He is still working with Israel. And He will work with them in NEW ways in the future.
So…. would that the churches of today, in spite of the stubborn rejection that the Jews show towards Yeshua—would that the Church of Jesus Christ affirm this people….and rejoice as so many of them return to the Promised Land where there they are absorbing their traditions and recalling the mighty acts of their God.
Should not the Church everywhere awake to the miracle that is the modern State of Israel? How likely was it that the Jews would come from the ends of the earth—picking up all their possessions, saying good-bye to all their countrymen and neighbors and established institutions…. and immigrate to Israel? From nearly 100 countries? And should we not--the Church world-wide—every branch of it—perceive and understand the source of this miracle? It is of God. For He says:
“See, I am going to bring them…”
“See, I am doing a new thing.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Just a little bit from history here.
Think 16th century now. There was a big difference between the churches of the East—the Orthodox and others and….the Roman Catholics represented by the Franciscan monks—the difference between East and West. Get this now:
1. The churches of the East: Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, the Jacobite Syrians and others. These churches had influence in the Middle East, and most if not all of them had an altar in the esteemed Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. They also exercised authority over other so-called “Holy Sites” in Palestine where it was supposed that Jesus ministered. These Eastern churches gave to these places radical devotion with weird physical gyrations and contortions.
These Eastern Orthodox Churches were extremely jealous of their positions in Palestine and paid rich sums to the Muslim leaders to retain these positions.
2. The churches of the West: The Roman Catholics and their Franciscan monks had no part of this fanatic behavior. After the Reformation, the Franciscans retained what power they had in the Holy Land and took responsibility for the Lutherans, Calvinists and other Protestants who visited the Holy Land.
Think 20th century.
The World Council of Churches was formed in 1948 out of churches united to further the missionary movement. But in the 1960’s it turned its attention to “full Christian unity” and took in all the Orthodox churches of the East (Middle East really). These included the churches of Palestine (Jerusalem).
In 1974 the Middle East Council of Churches was formed and joined the World Council.
By the 1980’s the WCC became influenced by radical liberal theology and anti-Zionist thought.
Merkley says: “In the 1980’s as the World Council of Churches became more attached to the Palestinian cause and increasingly anti-Zionist, its official statements on the history of the conflict and its proposals for resolving it increasingly reflected the effects of the introduction into the World Council of Churches of the East. The outcome is that the churches of the West and the churches of the East are now virtually at one in their attitude toward the State of Israel—an attitude of resentment shading over into active hostility.” All these churches “now agree that Israel is an oppressor of Christianity—and that this is so because it is a Jewish state.” (Paul Charles Merkley: Christian Attitudes towards the State of Israel, pp. 73-74)
And so, the mainline churches of our own nation, while they have been losing their moorings in the scriptures have also been infected with anti-Zionism. To them, the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled and/or they are simply allegorical-- written and passed down merely to inspire.
Contemporary Example: Mitri Raheb, Palestinian Lutheran pastor and lecturer at St. Olaf College: “The ancient Israelites are not linked in any substantive or material way to the contemporary, modern state of Israel.” Modern Israel “manipulates sacred texts to justify a political project.” (First Things Magazine, March, 2018) When he said this, his American audience cheered.
There you have it—the contention that present-day Israel is not even connected with ancient Israel and that modern Jews have no historic reason to claim the land to which they have moved!
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NOTE: Credit the evangelicals and fundamentalists of America for hearing of and considering the horrors of the Holocaust. At the time, Britain was turning away from her commitment to protect the Jews in Palestine. But these American conservative Christians recognized that European Jews were being wiped out—this, at a time when most liberal Christians were denouncing “Jewish atrocity propaganda.” [David Rausch]
The skeptical world cannot see the new thing with any amount of appreciation at all. They see only threats and conflict. The world fixates on the “unfairness” of the glorious things.
But God the Lord bids us rejoice in His gracious kindness to the "Children of Abraham: “See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth…with weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back.” (Jeremiah 31:9)
“Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will bring them back in safety.” – Jeremiah 32:37
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Question #1 for the clergy of the world: Does the return to Zion produce joy in your soul…or not?
Question #2: And…do you, the clergy of the world, feel delighted that the ancient language of Hebrew is now used in the ancient land among the Jewish people?
First, let’s take the Christians who live in Israel, Judea and Samaria. Most of these are members of the Eastern Orthodox churches. Here is a revealing statement about them:
“Most Christians who live in the State of Israel prefer to pretend that they live somewhere else. In their imaginations they live in “Palestine,” or (as is preferred in some circles) “The Holy Land”. In conversation as well as in their writings they sedulously avoid reference to the name of the state in which…they live; and they remain vigilant, day in and day out, not to take into their eyes the life and not to hear with their ears the language of the Jews. (Christian Attitudes towards the State of Israel, by Paul Charles Merkley, McGill-Queens: Montreal and Kingston, p. 52)
This is a similar practice to that of the Muslims who will not say “Israel.” That is a word used for cursing. It is anathema-- forbidden for both Muslim and the Eastern Orthodox Christians.
The church of Eastern Orthodoxy in Israel do their best to ignore the Israeli state in which they are living.
Secondly, let’s note the churches in the world that are called “liberal” and whose leadership is oriented towards the higher criticism of the scriptures, thereby denying the authenticity of biblical history: these churches do not take the prophetic word objectively. Therefore, the prophecies about the Jews returning to the and is not meaningful. Therefore, no joy is expressed in these churches at the restoration of Israel. Only briefly did they affirm Israel in the 1940’s.
Typically, the people in these churches have not studied the scriptures. Typically, they give Israel poor grades for its treatment of the Palestinians; and again typically, they do not judge the Palestinians even though the Palestinian leadership has from the very beginning of their existence vowed to kill the Jews and destroy the Jewish state for the sake of Allah.
They hold Israel to a standard to which others are not held. They have veiled a sort of anti-Semitism in the name of social justice. They are quick to judge Israel severely and the Palestinians very little or not at all.
They also fail to acknowledge the fact that much of the West Bank is now under civilian control of the Palestinian Authority….that a large segment of the Palestinian population now is making good money in companies owned by both Arabs and Israelis.
At even other times, they have, during the Peace Process, not given the Israelis enough credit for taking the initiative in the peacemaking process which involved giving back 97 per cent of “The West Bank.”
Thirdly, let’s look at some of the leaders of the Evangelical World.
One evangelical leader said with a critical tone: Israel should “…administer justice over the land God promised to it, rather than simply taking those as literal borders in which it can do anything it wants.” (Richard Mouw in Center Conversations)
What was that again? “….in which Israel can do anything it wants?” That’s not all. He also says: “We [ahem] need to hold Israel responsible for the conditions of the covenant, for the proper use of the land.”
Who is “we”? The National Association of Evangelicals? And how often will these reports be issued that evaluate Israel’s “proper use of the land?”
NOTE: That statement was made in a 17-year-old journal. Perhaps now such writers as this have shaved off some of their self-righteousness.
The Jews have for some time now proclaimed that their mission is to make the world a better place. The Hebrew term for this is “Tikkun Olam”—“repairing and improving the world” is what that now means. It’s an important part of the Israeli raison d'etre—reason for being—purpose in living. It’s expressed in Israelis being first on hand to help the Haitians following the earthquake and other commendable acts of charity. Their advances in medicine are amazing. And note that the Syrians needing medical help who can make it to Israel are treated with kindness regardless of their nation being the arch-enemy of Israel.
Some evangelicals are poor at giving grades out.
The Palestinians are their “victim group"--victims of the Jews, of course.
Now, in the last few years, Middle East Christians are escaping the persecution they have suffered in Muslim countries to make it into Israel. Think of that! They appreciate Israel and the freedoms there. The minds of some Middle East Christians are being changed.
Fourth and lastly, the Christians who do express great joy at the re-birth of the nation of Israel see it as a GIFT from the Lord of nations-- from the one who established His covenant with Abraham and the Children of Israel.
In the rebirth of the Israelite nation, most Christians of conservative theology see a sign of the last days and a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Yes, there was disappointment, over the irreligious life of Israel’s leaders.
But it is a God of grace who is in charge, and He is and will continue to work in the hearts and minds of the Israelis. It’s happening.
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In past centuries, some segments of the Church saw the restoration of Israel coming. Some were ridiculed for this belief. The scoffers ignored the prophecies, having a low view of the scripture’s veracity. What did they ignore? Here is an example--one that shows the Lord’s compassionate ingathering:
“For thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel….I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed…” (Ezekiel 34:11-16a – ESV)
The Jewish holiday, Purim, was Monday and Tuesday of this week (March 9th & 10th)
The Jews were exiled in Persian lands. Persian politics is totalitarian. The whims of the King become law.
The Persians were going to destroy the Jews—all of them in the empire, because they were a people who refused to bow down to their god-king, Ahasuerus. His right-hand man was Haman, and he saw a way to self-advancement: have these people annihilated.
It was written that all the Jews in the empire were to be slain—“young and old, women and children, the 13th day of the 12th month…and to plunder their goods.” (Esther 3:13, NRSV)
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History is now. The enmity against the Jews endures. And it is encouraged by Arab despots, kings and ayatollahs—again, totalitarian rulers, as in ancient times.
IRAN: A tweet from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: "Israel has no cure but to be annihilated.” He speaks for other Middle East despots.
PALESTINIANS: Palestinian television shows 3-year-olds how to stab an Israeli in the neck. Palestinian school curricula are not subject to Israeli editing; so, their textbooks describe Jews as descendants of monkeys and pigs and teach students to be martyrs. In math textbooks, the teaching of arithmetic is illustrated by numbers of Jews: if you kill so many, how many would be left. And so on.
One of the best jobs a Palestinian can get is to be imprisoned for a terrorist act on a Jew. Monthly stipends are paid both to him and his family by the Palestine Authority
ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORS: The Jordanian King, Abdullah II, will deal with Israeli leaders to make deals on water supply, but Jews are hated throughout Jordan. Just saying the word “Jew” is forbidden. Maps made in Jordan have no Israel. (Confirmed by a missionary friend). In Egypt, the same. President Mubarak wanted peace with Israel only to lift Egypt's heavy military burden of keeping up with Israel.
The Fatah party (of Mahmoud Abbas), Hamas and Islamic Jihad all praise the attacks made on Israelis. On Hamas and Palestinian Authority TV, children are taught to conduct a “heroic operation”—“be a man and kill a Jew today.”
The Palestinians, if given a land with their own governance, would not allow one single Jew to live in it. Actually, it happened: when Gaza was put into the hands of the Palestinians, it became Judenrein—Jew free and one big arsenal for military hardware.
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In Europe, there is a resurgence of anti-Semitism and a failure to deal adequately with its terrorism. And it has spread to America. On university campuses with Middle Eastern studies, all of them (almost without exception) are unsympathetic to the State of Israel. And what about the United Nations? All of their resolutions regarding Israel are negative.
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In the story of Esther, if Haman had succeeded, the Jewish people as a nation would have been decimated.
NOTE: God is not even mentioned in this story. But still, the twists and turns of the narrative show that even when God is not in the forefront, He is still working behind the scenes. How?
WELL, NOTE: Strange things happen to move Esther and her uncle Mordecai into positions of power. Esther won a beauty contest and thus became queen. Mordecai, her uncle, discovered a plot to overthrow King Ahasuerus. Mordecai told Esther, and Esther told King Ahasuerus in the name of Mordecai, and he, Mordecai was rewarded by a high promotion.
So....two Jews move into positions of power. Only then does the trouble begin. And these two become the saviors of the Jews. They were doing the work of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--He who chosen this people.
Aha! Isn’t that what we see in the modern history of the State of Israel? We could point to many incidents where God has been at work behind the scenes.
For instance, who in Britain thought that Lloyd-George would become prime minister during World War I? But he did. Prime Minister Asquith was forced to resign in 1916 in the middle of the war, and Lloyd-George was ready to take the helm. Lloyd-George happened to be very familiar with the Holy Land and knew that it was of great interest among the conservative and evangelical branches of the Christian Church. If Asquith would have remained in power, he would have thwarted it. Then, Sir Arthur John Balfour became foreign minister, and he too was inclined to respond to the Jewish desire for the restoration of the land. The proposal for giving the land back to the Jewish people was “The Balfour Declaration.” Two men, sympathetic to the Jews, moved into power BEFORE the decision had to be made. Glory be!
And today, in the current crisis of Israel and the Palestinians, there is no doubt in this writer’s mind, that God is secretly engineering the events to bring about the deliverance of His Chosen People and the restoration of all their land.
So even, when God is not evident, we can, if we consider the whole story, see that He is doing His good work, sometimes in the shadows and in unexpected ways. Glory be!
“Help me, O Lord, my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love.
Let them know that this is your hand;
You, O Lord, have done it….
With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord.;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
To save them from those who would condemn them to death.”
-- Psalms 109:26-27, 30-31 (NRSV)
Israel is preparing for war. Out of necessity, the IDF (Israel Defense Force) is gearing up for a high-tech confrontation. How are they doing this?
ITEM #1: Let’s take their naval department. Iran is equipping itself with advanced anti-ship cruise missiles which are being moved into position throughout the Middle East. The Israel Navy’s Weapons Systems Department is responsible for developing counter measures that can be installed on Israeli ships.
The possible future war, if it comes, will look like no other as technology is changing the face of the “battlefield.”
The faces of the IDF’s soldiers and technological personnel have also changed. They are younger—youth in their early 20’s who have completed their degrees in electrical engineering, mathematics and physics as part of their requirements. Their counterparts from Western nations—in their 50’s and 60’s-- are taken aback when they intermingle with these Israeli youth.
The task of these Israeli youth: to develop sensors and command systems that hermetically seal Israel’s sea borders, both on the surface and underwater! Hermetically sealed sea border. Hm-m.
QUESTION: How have they done this? ANSWER: They have had to develop complex algorithms so that operators can quickly differentiate between say an enemy scuba diver and a sea turtle. (from “Israel News Digest” and “JNS-Israel Hayom”)
ITEM 2: Israel’s Yaman elite counter-terrorism warfare unit has thwarted multiple terrorist attacks, hijackings, kidnappings, bomb threats and has rescued hostages. Their unit has won the International SWAT competition multiple times, competing against 27 top-rated police and federal SWAT teams from around the world. (Neil Farber and Itay Gil in “Daily Alert”, 2/28/20)
ITEM 3: Back on July 28, 2019, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that the test of Israel’s Arrow 3 anti-missile defense system, conducted in Alaska, was successful. “The Arrow 3 is an advanced design for intercepting long-range missiles in space at an altitude that would safely destroy any nuclear warheads,” reports the Jerusalem Post. The Arrow 3 intercepted ballistic missiles at unprecedented heights and speed.” Netanyahu stated that now “Israel has the ability to defend itself against ballistic missiles launched against it from anywhere in the world.” Whew! (Jerusalem Post, August 2-8, 2019).
That brings to mind the portrayal of “the arrow” in the Psalms where the arrow is indicative of warfare. Check this out: “There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.” (Psalms 76:3 (NRSV)
In the same article, Benny Gantz is quoted as saying: “This is “a clear signal to the Iranians and to the entire world that Israel is ready for any scenario against any aggression.
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So…Israeli officials are talking about their sea borders being “hermetically sealed” and their air being defended by ballistic missiles in the air—missiles flying at unprecedented heights and speed! Hard to believe.
ITEM 4: Another report from “Daily Alert” quotes U. S. Undersecretary of Homeland Security, David Glawe as making this statement at the most recent 9/11 memorial in Jerusalem: “Israel keeps America safe. That’s very true. It’s hard to really go into detail or to advertise it, but it’s true….We are without question better off when Israel is strong, secure, stable, and prosperous, so it is very much an American interest to support Israel.” (2/10/20)
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Much more could be said about Israel’s preparedness.
How has this happened, given three considerations: (1) Israel’s extremely small size; (2) Israel’s brief modern history as a nation; and (3) The huge expense in developing such a system and in maintaining an army? As we often say here: God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Lord of the nations. Be watchful. Be prayerful.
Some of the original modern Zionists didn’t envision a nation that had to use armaments and shed blood to preserve itself. Some of these early-20th century rabbis and philosophers were pacifists. Judah Leon Magnes (1877-1948), first president of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, personified the desire for pacifism and the love of neighbor:
"The world—not in Palestine alone—may be bent upon violence and bloodshed. But will not my opponent [the Jew who accepts violence and war as a necessity] agree that there is a better chance of averting this tendency to bloodshed if we make every possible effort politically as well as in other ways to work hand in hand—as teachers, helpers, friends—with this awakening Arab world? The only way it can succeed, it seems to me, and that success is worth having, is if we overcome all obstacles through all the weapons of civilization except bayonets….Whereas it may have been in accord with Israelitic needs in the time of Joshua to conquer the land and maintain their position in it with the sword, that is not in accord with the desire of plain Jews or with the long ethical tradition of Judaism that has not ceased developing to this day." (Arthur Hertzberg: The Zionist Idea, pp. 448-449)
The reader must judge for himself: Have the Israelis done all in their power to live alongside their neighbors, the Arabs? For the most part, YES. Have they offered land? YES. Have their business people hired Arab/Palestinians? YES. Have they entered into peace talks with them and offered reasonable, or even ultra-reasonable terms? YES. So, is there any possibility that Israel could have existed in peace with the Iranians and their cohorts, Hezbollah, Hamas and others? OF COURSE NOT.
If you believe, like me, that actually too much has been offered and if you see, as I do, that the opposition to Israel has never brought any proposals to the peace talks, neither Abbas nor Arafat, then you see that prospects for peace by means of such negotiating work has been disappointing if not futile. Too much has been offered by Israel for her own security. Too much of Judea and Samaria has been offered. And too much suffering and death has resulted. And the PLO and the Palestinian Authority is deeply corrupt.
Who is Israel fighting? And what are the beliefs of Israel's opposition? They are fighting against totalitarianism—against a people who believe that the world must be conquered for Allah, the god they conceive of as the true god. Allah’s so-called prophet, Muhammed, desires of them their complete commitment to fight for land and people. Mohammed fought for Allah, and they now must fight for Allah. Their hopes are buoyed with the immigration of hordes of Islamic people to Europe and the growing influence of those immigrants. Now they want Palestine/Israel to be Allah’s.
The Arab Muslims are angered that in their very midst—in the Middle East where Islam ruled so long-- that Israel, their religious nemesis, the despised Jewish People, are now ruling smack in the middle of what they consider their own their Islamic turf.
But now, Israel has developed never-to-be imagined defensive capabilities.
God be thanked and praised. We see the Chosen People advancing to protect their nation—hastening toward the future. Israel—new and tiny and just amazing.
Your name, O Lord, endures forever,
Your renown, throughout all ages.
For the Lord will vindicate his people,
And have compassion on his servants.
-- Psalms 135:13-14 (NRSV)
Oh, the suffering, the homelessness amid the cold, winter winds--the hopelessness amid the crumbling of structures and the loss of all possessions which the Syrian War is generating.
Recall the aria in Handel’s “Messiah” where the Lord says He will shake all nations…shake: “And I will shake….And I will shake….”
Syria is shaking with destruction and grief. It is being shredded into little pieces.
About 4 million Syrians cower together in desperate, homeless, winter conditions in rebel-held territory. Bashar Assad’s fully-armed forces are backed up by Russian air power ready to destroy them. This in freezing temperatures, crowded against the Turkish border.
This is the climax of the 9-year civil war with more than 400,000 dead, 5.6 million international refugees and 6.2 million people displaced within its borders. (Reported by The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead, 2/24/2020. The Jerusalem Post says that this war has seen 10 million people driven from their homes. (J. Post, 2/14-20, 2020, p. 15)
Assistance from international agencies and the United Nations is nowhere nearly enough to prevent further devastation. The U. N. agency describes the refugee camp in Idlib Province as the world’s largest.
And this crisis in Northwest Syria is intensifying by the day. The U. N. and other aid agencies are doing their best to deliver necessary aid, but they can’t keep up with the growing mass of refugees. In Idlib Province, the last rebel stronghold, some people are using bags of clothing as fuel to warm their shelters.
In Southern Syria, other nations are operating to gain power and position in order to blast Israel with drones and rockets.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that President Erdogan of Turkey whose country is sheltering nearly 4 million Syrian refugees is threatening to march over the border and attack the loyal Syrian army. If Assad continues to march north to the border, the war would become international and the devastation would be even more widespread.
But Assad is not giving up. He is determined to retake every inch of Syrian soil and is directing his militias to move into Idlib Province (Northwest Syria) assisted by Russian airstrikes where millions are amassed in the cold.
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QUESTION: What has gone wrong with this nation of Syria? We know how stubborn the Assad’s have been. But is there something that has happened under the surface—something not recognized by the news agencies and foreign policy wonks?
CONSIDER: Those familiar with the prophets in the Tenakh (the Old Testament) understand that God Himself punished foreign nations that laid their hands on Israel unless God Himself had provoked them to do it as Israel’s punishment for their wickedness. For example, Edom repeatedly harassed Israel during its history. Many of the Edomites actually came into Israel as the Babylonians were destroying everything in their reach in Israel….and laughed, danced in the streets and yelled obscenities.
Syria is not Edom, but the story is similar. Syria has been a perennial enemy of modern Israel, aligning itself with whoever it could to harass her and seriously attempt to destroy her.
Syria is severely anti-Semitic.
Let’s go back to the first partition of Palestine in 1936 when the British were attempting to quiet the local, rioting Arabs in Palestine. The British Commission thought they’d appease the Arabs by allotting Israel only a tiny portion of Palestine. When the Arabs (Palestinians) turned it down, that wasn’t the only sign of rejection. In Aden, Syria, for example, 76 Jews were killed. In Aleppo, Syria, 300 Jewish homes and 11 synagogues were burned to the ground, and half the Jewish population of 4,000 fled the city.
This was the most violent reaction of any Near Eastern (Middle Eastern) city in reacting to a little slice of land going to the Jews.
Syria gained its full independence from France in 1945. Without French authorities to stop them, they immediately began to harass its Jewish residents. The civil service and banks evicted their Jewish employees. Mobs were formed and rioting began against Jewish homes and businesses. Professional licenses up for renewal were refused to doctors and lawyers. Jewish neighborhoods were subject to curfews. Jewish accounts were frozen.
When Israel gained her independence a couple years later, this is what happened in Syria: the Jews living there were beaten, some murdered, their homes looted, their institutions were closed and their holy books destroyed.
When Syrian Jews planned to emigrate, they couldn’t sell their land and liquidate their property. Rioting in city neighborhoods resembled the Russian pogroms of the early 20 century. Those who robbed, beat or otherwise harassed the Jews were not subject to arrest or fines. An economic boycott was slapped on Jewish businesses. Thus, many Jews became destitute.
The Jews who tried to escape the country were usually caught, imprisoned and would often be tortured. The secret police, the Muhabarat, had a special section dealing only with the Jews. Most Jewish worship services had one Muhabarat in attendance.
NOTE: There in Syria many of the Jews could trace their roots to their ancestors who settled there after the Babylonian captivity of the 6th century B. C.
During the brief history of the Israeli nation, Syria was strongly in favor of any war against Israel and has been one of the sharpest goads of any of her neighbors to instigate war. During the lead-up to the Six-Day War, Bashar al-Assad took it upon himself to prod President Nasser of Egypt to “get on with it”—with declaring war on Israel and driving them into the sea. (Mediterranean)
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CONSIDER: The prophets on this issue of anti-Israel activity.
In Ezekiel chapter 25: "Because Edom acted revengefully against the house of Judah and has grievously offended in taking vengeance on them….I will stretch my hand against Edom and cut it off from man and beast, and I will make it desolate…”
CONSIDER FURTHER BACK: The Call of Abraham.
In Genesis chapter 12: "Now the Lord said to Abram: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and those who dishonor you, I will curse.”
And therefore, when we look at the shaking and crushing of Syria today, we must look at this sordid and hateful history in relation to Chosen Israel. It seems that the Lord of the nations and the God of Chosen Israel is acting to honor His covenant with Israel and bring judgment on those who despise Him.
What do you think?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.