Deception in the Church
Israel & Middle East
Jesus the Messiah
One World System
One World Religion
Science & Evolution
We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching
the Bible and understanding our time in
the light of Bible prophecy
What is the root cause of the conflict over Israel?
On Thursday 16th March 2006 Barbara and I attended a talk given by Bishop
Riah, the Bishop of Jerusalem, in London. In his talk he said that he was
totally committed to cause of peace in the Middle East and that once peace
comes to Jerusalem it will come to the whole world. The root cause of the
lack of peace is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the separation
wall, which separates Jerusalem from the West Bank, separates families and
communities and frustrates free movement for the Palestinian population. He
said that 46% of the West Bank has already been lost to Israel to make way
for the settlements. Settlers around Jerusalem number about 200,000, with
another 200,000 in the rest of the West Bank. He said there is 70%
unemployment, 40-45% in West Bank, 80% in Gaza. 53 Palestinians per month
are being killed and 4000 Palestinian homes have been demolished since 2000.
For the sake of Israel he advocates a two state solution which the Arab
world would accept if Israel withdrew to the pre 1967 borders. The Arabs
have lived with the Jews for centuries and would do so in peace if Israel
did not act aggressively towards the Arabs. The region could become a
Switzerland of the Middle East with different people living side by side and
trading with each other and living in peace with each other. The Church has
a role to play in restoring hope to the Palestinians. The call to disinvest
shows the anger of Christians with occupation. Sanctions should be put in
place against all goods produced in settlements. The occupation is the root
cause of the conflict. Terrorism is the response to this situation and
would cease if there was a just settlement.
Response to Bishop Riah’s talk
The Bishop claimed to be totally committed to peace. But in the whole talk
there was no mention of Arab rejectionism as a root cause of the conflict.
In 1948, 1967, 1973 Israel fought wars against Arab armies committed to
their destruction. The issue was not the occupation but the existence of
Israel. On May 27th 1967 Egyptian President Nasser said, ‘Our basic
objective will be the destruction of Israel’. After the 6 Day War Israel
offered to return the territories in return for peace and recognition from
Arab world. This offer was rejected at the Khartoum Conference of the Arab
League. On September 1st 1967 they issued a resolution announcing the three
‘No’s’: ‘No peace, no recognition, and no negotiation.’
In the question time Bishop Riah compared the Six Day War to European wars.
These were in the past but now Britain, France and Germany are no longer
minded to go to war. This is a false comparison. Large elements in Arab
society have the same view as the one expressed by Nasser above concerning
Israel, including the party now ruling the Palestinian Authority.
The shock election victory of Hamas over the Fateh party in the Palestinian
elections in January 2006 means that the government of the Palestinian
Authority is now in the hands of people who are committed to the elimination
of Israel. The Charter of the Hamas movement makes this absolutely clear,
calling for the ‘raising of the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine
’ (i.e. Israel and the West Bank and Gaza must ultimately become one Arab
Before the election Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al spoke at a rally in Damascus
broadcast on Al-Jazeera TV (30/12/05) calling for the ‘liberation of Jaffa,
Haifa, Safed, and the Negev’ (areas of Israel) and ‘the departure of the
last Zionist from our land’. Hamas is more extreme than Fatah but the
Palestine National Covenant, the guiding charter of the PLO also calls for
the destruction of Israel by armed struggle.
The fundamental cause of the conflict is Arab rejectionism of the right of
Israel to exist. In fact the cause of the Israeli occupation of the
territories (Golan, West Bank, Gaza, Sinai) in the first place was Arab
rejectionism of Israel. One could even say that the retention of these
territories relates to Arab rejectionism, with Sinai returning to Egypt when
President Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel, but the Golan not
returning to Syria because of Syrian rejection of Israel.
What about Arab Christians?
Since Bishop Riah represents Arab Christian interests one would expect him
to be concerned about the Islamic aspects of the Hamas charter. Already in
Gaza there are attacks on Christians and death threats to the Bible Society
operating there. Israel within the pre 1967 borders gives freedom to Arab
Christians to organise their communities in ways which are totally denied
them in parts of the Middle East where Islamic fundamentalism has power. In
his talk there was no mention of the sufferings of Christians at the hands
of Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza. One would imagine that all their
problems are Israel’s fault. In a conversation I had with a member of the
audience afterwards he told me that Israel was pushing the Christians out of
the West Bank, which I strongly disagreed with.
A report in WND (World Net Daily) 27/12/05 says: ‘All this talk about
Israel driving Christians out and causing pain is nonsense,’ a Bethlehem
Christian community leader told WND. ‘You want to know what is at play here,
just come throughout the year and see the intimidation from the Muslims.
They have burned down our stores, built mosques in front of our churches,
stole our real estate and took away our rights. Women have been raped and
abducted. So don’t tell me about Israel. It’s the Muslims.’ The Bethlehem
leader, like many Christians on the streets here, would not provide his name
for publication for fear of retaliation. Evidence for what he says is not
hard to find.
Muslim-born, Ahmad El Achwal was a convert to Christianity. His home was an
informal Christian centre, where he handed out Christian literature and
informed others in his community about his new-found faith. Ahmad El Achwal
was introduced to Christianity by a fellow prisoner in Central Nablus
prison. He had been accused by the PA of dealing in stolen gold, charges for
which he was later tried and acquitted. Once word of his conversion to
Christianity spread, he was repeatedly harassed and abused. PA ‘security’
forces searched his home, confiscated his Christian Bibles and other
religious books, interrogated him for days and arrested him for long
periods, promising an end to his suffering and even a job within the PA if
he would return to Islam. Ahmad El Achwal was repeatedly beaten. His life
and the life of his family were threatened. His car and home were
fire-bombed by men affiliated with PA security forces. The landlord of the
fast-food shop he rented refused to renew his rental agreement, forcing him
out of business. Eventually he paid with his life for the simple desire to
live according to his conscience.
Christian evangelism and Muslims becoming Christians are intolerable
affronts to the norms and traditions in PA-controlled areas. Though the PA
publicly proclaims protection of religious freedom, Islamic law (Shari’a)
has been adopted into the PA Constitution and is the primary legal source
governing everyone under PA rule, regardless of their religious beliefs.
The Shari’a considers conversion from Islam can be punishable by death,
which may explain why Ahmad El Achwal’s murderers were never found, never
brought to justice, never sought by the local authorities.
Terrorism and the security barrier
When Arafat signed the Oslo Accords Palestinians were required to cease
incitement to Israel’s destruction and to shut down terror organisations.
Under Arafat’s rule the Palestinian Authority broadcast continual incitement
against Israel with calls for the destruction of Israel coming from the
mosques and the educational system. The glorification of terrorism was part
of the way of life. We have clips from Palestinian TV stations showing
children as young as 5 being indoctrinated with incitement to terrorism
On August 19, Palestinian Clerics Association Deputy Director Sheikh
Muhammad Ali was interviewed by Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV. In the interview,
he discussed Jihad as the duty of all Muslims, and the coming conquest of
all of Palestine through Jihad, not negotiation. Here are extracts of what
‘Allah willing, we will enter [Palestine] as conquerors and liberators, not
through negotiations, but through Jihad and resistance, because the Hadith
goes: ‘And the Muslims would kill the Jews’ - there is killing involved. It
is only a matter of time, and the Muslims will eventually liberate Jerusalem
and regain Palestine.’
As this terrorism has been translated into action over and over again with
suicide attacks on Israeli civilians in cafes, buses, and public places,
clearly Israel had to do something to prevent this. In denouncing the wall
(which for the most part is a fence) Bishop Riah said nothing about
terrorism as a cause of its construction. The ending of terrorism and
incitement is actually the basic necessity for peace in the area and the
main people with influence to do this are Muslim clerics. The west and the
churches should also unite to tell the Islamic world in no uncertain terms
that as long as the terrorist issue is not addressed there is no way forward
for any peace process.
Israel’s security fence is the product of Arab terrorism. Before September
2000 Israelis were crossing into the West Bank and even Gaza to buy and
sell, Palestinians were travelling into Israel to work. Terrorism has
changed all that. Unless the churches address that issue all its statements
are empty platitudes.
Regarding settlements I would agree that there are wrongs done to the
Palestinian Arab population in relation to taking land and demolishing
houses. However in principle as Arabs live amongst Jews within the pre 1967
borders of Israel, so it should be possible for Jews to live among Arabs in
predominantly Arab areas as well. In fact the Gaza settlement of Gush Katif
which has now been dismantled provided employment for about 5000
Palestinians in its agricultural development. Now that the Jewish settlers
have gone the greenhouses and the agriculture of the region are being
destroyed and the employment opportunities provided by the settlement for
Palestinians are gone.
While it is true that the Palestinians suffer very high levels of
unemployment, it is not true to lay all the blame for that on Israel.
Before Arafat took over the PA in 1993 levels of employment and standard of
living for Palestinians were much better as they were able to work in
Israel, benefit from tourism and trade with Israel without the restrictions
brought about as a result of terrorism. Terrorism and political strikes
destroyed many Palestinian job opportunities. If an employer is faced with
a choice of people working with him who are not going to turn up for work
because a strike has been called and those who will work, he will obviously
choose those who will work. In addition there is the scandal of the vast
sums of money which have been donated to the PA by the EU, America and UN
which have disappeared without benefiting the people for whom the money was
Opposing Israel has become the popular cause of the left which unites with
Islam in denouncing Israel, America and Bible believing Christians. The
church is dividing between those who support Israel and those who denounce it.
The Bible makes it clear that in the last days of this age there will be a
conflict over the land of Israel and the status of Jerusalem. According to
Zechariah 12-14 Jerusalem will be the centre of world attention, with the
last conflict of this age taking place there. The climax of this conflict
will be the return of the Messiah Jesus to stand on the Mount of Olives and
take up His reign from Jerusalem bringing peace at last to the Middle East
and the world.