The recent column in which I reported journalist David (not Dan, as I stated) Dolan’s views (that Hurricane Katrina was a warning to America to stop putting pressure on Israel to cede land to their enemies) has provoked a lot of response—both pro and con.
Let me state at the outset that I should have taken the time and space to sympathize with the victims of the storm. Indeed, as the storm reached Category 5 over the waters of the Gulf, before making landfall, people in my church (Janet and I among them) were praying for God’s mercy for the people of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. And the storm’s diminution to Category 3 could have been an answer to prayer.
And we should surely be doing all we can to help the people of the Gulf Coast.
Let me add that I don’t believe God is indiscriminate in His wrath; rather, in a sin-stained world that is hostile to human beings, only His protection keeps us safe—and if He lifts that protection a little, to discipline us, it is Satan, not God, who brings death and destruction.
That lifting of Divine protection could be provoked by national governments acting contrary to His revealed will (as David Dolan suggested); or it could be provoked by egregious sin, such as the “Southern Decadence” carnival of homosexual depravity that was being planned for New Orleans this Labour Day weekend; or by the revival and exploitation of Voodoo, for which the city has also become infamous.
Indeed, the President of the New Orleans city council said of Katrina, “Perhaps God is going to cleanse us.” None of us can claim to know the mind of God.
David Dolan is not alone in observing that American efforts to force Israel to give away its land has had eerie parallels to natural and political disasters: William Koenig wrote a 384-page book, Eye to Eye, documenting many of those parallels. (For more about Koenig’s book, visit http://www.watch.org/resources/display.php?cartid=200509020000796&zid=1&lid=1&psku=eye1&mode=sp).
Others who objected to my column about Dolan’s observations protested that God’s promises to Israel are invalid if they don’t believe; but that condition is not attached to the promises in Scripture—God said that unless the order of the sun and moon change, Israel will never cease to be a nation before God; and there is no condition attached to His specific promise of the six regions that comprise present-day Israel (including Samaria and Gaza) as a nation for the Jews forever.
Both secular and Biblical history confirm the right of the Jewish nation to live in peace within its present borders, and that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem.
The “land for peace” strategy was always a non-starter, and the “Roadmap” being promoted by the USA and the EU is no better.
As Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 98% of what he said he was asking for—but Arafat just walked away. The PLO never even began to observe the terms of the Oslo “peace accords”.
Arafat, in a speech made in Arabic, told his followers that the Oslo Accords were “like al-Hudibayah.” That went right over the heads of most western observers. Al-Hudibayah was an Oasis midway between Mecca and Medina. When Mohammed (a native of Mecca and a member of the Quraish tribe) failed to win many converts there outside his immediate family, he went to Medina (the Hijira), where he was more successful. After building a fairly large following, he raised an army and attacked Mecca; but his troops were beaten off. At al-Hudibayah he signed a 10-year peace treaty with Mecca. He then went back to Medina, raised a larger army, and two years into the 10-year treaty, he attacked Mecca and slaughtered most of the Quraish. That was the event Arafat was referring to: to the PLO, he was saying, the Oslo Accords were as easy to violate as the 10-year peace treaty of al-Hudibayah.
Historically, there have always been Jews living in the Holy Land, despite the two diasporas. Even during the Ottoman Era, Jerusalem’s population was mainly Jewish.
On the other hand, there was never a “Palestinian” nation; there is no “Palestinian” language or culture. Indeed, most of today’s so-called “Palestinians” are, like Arafat himself, immigrants (he was an Egyptian; and many of his followers were Egyptians, Syrians and Moroccans smuggled in as part of the PLO’s war against the Jews).
In 1967, the American writer Mark Twain visited the Holy Land (then called the province of South Syria in the Ottoman Empire). He described it as desolate, pestilential and arid. Most of it was empty. However, even then the first Jewish aliyah of the modern era had already begun, and land was being purchased (often at inflated prices) from Ottoman and Damascene absentee landowners by European Jews fleeing persecution and pogroms.
Ironically, in the mid-19th century, the term “Palestinian” was used by Mark Twain and many European and American writers as a synonym for “Jew”: they certainly recognized 3,500 years of Jewish heritage in the Holy Land.
The supreme irony of today’s European/American plan to create a “Palestinian State” is that there already is such a nation, created for the Muslim Arabs of the British mandate of Palestine: its name is “Jordan”.
After the Balfour Declaration—which said there should be separate nations in Palestine for Muslims and Jews—Britain gave 77% of Palestine to the Muslim residents, established a Hashemite king (Abdullah Hussein) on its throne, and called it “Trans-Jordan”: it comprised all of Palestine east of the Jordan River to Mesopotamia (now Iraq).
But Britain never fulfilled the rest of its promise—to create a Jewish state in the remaining 23%.
In 1947, the United Nations proposed dividing that tiny sliver of land even further—and Israel agreed, but the Muslims refused. So Israel declared independence in 1948.
Israel’s neighbours immediately declared war, and vowed to eradicate the infant Jewish state. Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Trans-Jordan and Egypt all ganged up on tiny Israel, and told the Muslim residents not to accept Israel’s offer of citizenship: “In two weeks,” they were told, “we will drive the Jews into the sea, and you can have their homes.”
But Israel was able to repel the invaders. The Muslim refugees were settled in camps in Jordan, but were never allowed to settle there; the nations around Israel found it more advantageous to keep their brothers in squalid camps, to use them as cannon-fodder in their propaganda war against Israel.
Israel received about 750,000 Jewish refugees from the five hostile neighbouring nations, and resettled them all successfully. There were about the same number of Muslim refugees taken to the camps in Jordan; but Jordan and the other four Muslim nations refused to accept them as settlers.
After the 1948 war, Jordan had occupied Samaria and most of Judea—what they call “The West Bank”—and they also annexed East Jerusalem… illegally. Syria occupied the strategically important Golan Heights, and for 19 years rained rocket-, mortar- and cannon-fire down on Israel schools and kibbutzim.
“Occupied territories”? Yes, they were occupied by invaders—when Syria and Jordan held the land, until 1967, when Israel recaptured them. And there was no “Palestinian” people until 1967, when Arafat declared eternal enmity with Israel. His schools and television stations taught children to hate Jews and to dream of becoming shaheeds — suicide terrorists.
The lands,which most of the world’s media mistakenly calls “the disputed territories” and “The West Bank” are referred to in the Bible as “the mountains of Israel.”
To sum up: while there definitely is a spiritual promise for all true believers, both Jewish and Gentile—the “heavenly” land that Abraham sought—there is also a here-and-now promise for the descendants of Jacob—and we are seeing that promise fulfilled in our time! The promises I cited in the article about David Dolan—the passages he quoted from Jeremiah—were not allegorical or spiritual: they refer to six specific places in the land of promise. Twice.
Justice and mercy demand a homeland for the Jews, and God has said it should be in those six places He specified in Jeremiah’s prophecy: Jerusalem and environs, Samaria, Judea, Gaza, the Negev and the coastlands. Surely we tamper with those promises only at our peril.
David Dolan has lived in the Middle East for a quarter of a century, observing the outworking of biblical prophecy in the daily news. I thought it was worth getting Christians to talk about his observations and ideas, and not just keep absorbing the biased secular world-view that ignores both the Bible and history.