Bible Teaching

 

Spiritual Alternatives

 

Current Issues

 

Deception in the Church

 

Europe

 

Islam

 

Israel & Middle East

 

Jesus the Messiah

 

Moral Issues

 

One World System

 

One World Religion

 

Persecution

 

Science & Evolution

Bible Teachings
Alternatives
CurrentIssues
Deception
Europe
Islam
Israel&ME
Jesus
Morals
System
Religion
Persecution
Science

Topics Menu

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

Home
About Us
Beliefs
Meetings
Location
Articles
Resources
Contact
Bridge Lane
Vimeo

What is the root cause of the conflict over Israel?

T

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

Muslim entity).

 

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

against Israel.

 

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

he said:

 

‘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

given.

 

Conclusion

 

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.

T