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
Idiot’s guide to the Middle East conflict
How many times have you been approached by someone and asked the question,
so what do you think about what’s happening in the Middle East? How
frustrated have you been with your inability to string together a few
coherent words, let alone a solid, robust argument to support your views?
You are not alone, hours of study and a Ph.D. are the minimum requirements
here for a full understanding of the intricacies and subtleties of a
situation that doesn’t even have a history that people can agree on.
There is nothing more confusing than the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
Millions of words have been written and spoken about it, but how much of it
has truly sunk in, how much of it has made sense, how much of it has been
untainted by personal opinion or editorial slant? Jews and Zionists will
tell you one thing and Arabs and Arabists will tell you the opposite! Surely
they can't both be right, surely there can only be one truth, one set of
proven historical events that can unravel the whole mess. Unfortunately it
isn't that straightforward. The situation is so complex, puzzling and
emotionally charged that it is well-nigh impossible to get an objective
viewpoint it is difficult to find historical sources with no 'axes to
grind', commentators who could be accepted as truly impartial. Nevertheless
please indulge me over the next few minutes, while I try to unravel the
mystery, sweep away the web of confusion, set my course for the heart of the
matter and try to make sense of it all.
There are two main issues to look at. Firstly, who really owns the land,
particularly the area known as the 'West Bank' and, secondly, what is the
origin of the Palestinian refugee situation?
Let's first go back to the 19th Century and look at the 'lie of the land'.
Palestine, as it was called then (a name given by the Romans in the 1st
Century in an effort to remove any Jewish associations with the land) was a
poor country, ruled by absentee Turkish landlords, as part of the crumbling
and corrupt Ottoman empire. By all accounts the land was largely barren and
uninhabited, its population was either nomadic or largely involved with
agriculture, despite the poor environment. Sir John William Dawson, writing
in 1888, said, "no national union and no national spirit has prevailed
there. The motley impoverished tribes which have occupied it have held it as
mere tenants at will, temporary landowners, evidently waiting for those
entitled to the permanent possession of the soil" (Modern Science in Bible
Lands - New York 1890 - pp. 449-450). In 1835, Alphonse de Lamartine wrote,
"Outside the gates of Jerusalem we saw indeed no living object, heard no
living sound, we found the same void, the same silence …" (Recollections of
the East, Vol I (London 1845) pp 268).
Thanks to the Turks, the land had been totally neglected. Hundreds of years
of abuse had turned the country into a treeless waste, with malaria-ridden
swamps, a sprinkling of towns and an unliveable desert in the south. This
was the position in 1880, and this is incontestable fact.
But now we start to get discrepancies. How many people DID live in the land
at that time, and WHO were they? Jewish sources put the figure at between
100,000 and 250,000. Arab sources put the figure at about 480,000 (456,000
Arab, 24,000 Jewish). And who were these Arabs? Arab sources would simply
say that these were indigenous people, Arabs who have lived in this land for
generations. Jewish and independent sources say otherwise. They would point
to immigrations from Egypt (to escape heavy taxes), Algeria, Turkey and
elsewhere. There are suggestions that up to 25% of the Moslem population of
Palestine in the 19th century were immigrants.
A final word here from the author of "Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
According to the American author Mark Twains independent eye-witness
account in 1867, The Innocents Abroad, the land was barely populated,
just a collection of small villages in a dry, barren land. This complete
book is available on the Internet, so you can check it for yourself.
Heres his summary.Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think
Palestine must be the prince … It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land …
Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse
that has withered its fields and fettered its energies … Nazareth is
forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the
Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of
fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering
ruin, to-day, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand
years ago … Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has
lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village … Capernaum is
a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and
Chorazin have vanished from the earth … Palestine is desolate and unlovely.
And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a
land? …" (The Innocents Abroad (New York 1966) - summary of Palestine
Palestine was simply an outpost of the corrupt and decaying Turkish Ottoman
Empire, a part of Greater Syria. It was not a country or a state in the
manner of, say, an England or Germany at that time. It was simply a
collection of villages that happen to exist within the geographical region
known as Palestine. Although many Arabs did own their own homes, the
majority were the poor fellahin, who worked as hired hands for the
landowners. There was no nationalism in the land, no feeling of belonging to
a people, loyalty was to the local clan or village. Arabs did not see
themselves as Palestinians and often referred to their homeland as
Jews had lived in the land right from biblical times, though, in the 19th
century, they were very much the minority. The first major wave of Jewish
immigration started in the 1880s and, by the end of the 19th century, Jewish
population had tripled to over 80,000 (Arab sources).
This included the foundation of the Jewish settlement of Rishon-le-Zion,
where 40 Jewish families settled - followed later by more than 400 Arab
families from Egypt and elsewhere. This was a community that worked and was
at peace. The Arabs saw the benefits of what the Jews were doing to the land
and joined them. Between 1882 and 1914 pioneering Jews started, slowly, to
transform the land. They worked on the swamps and the undrained rivers. Life
was tough, if you didn't die of malaria, you could be killed by Bedouins.
Soon Jewish villages were springing up all over, and the towns of Jerusalem,
Tiberias, Safed and Haifa started to grow. In 1909 they founded the first
modern Jewish city, Tel Aviv. Life was still tough, although disease wasn't
so much the problem. Attacks by Arab neighbours increased, even though,
through the efforts of these Jewish pioneers, life for all in the land was
improving - including the Arab neighbours.
Newspapers and other media sources today give the impression that Israel
occupy land once owned by people living in a Palestinian state. But
evidence is to the contrary. For a start, the Arabs in no way saw themselves
as Palestinians. When the First congress of Muslim-Christian Associations
met in Jerusalem in February 1919, the agreement was that we consider
Palestine as part of Arab Syria. The only people who considered themselves
Palestinians in the first half of the 20th century were the Jewish
inhabitants! Even the Jewish national newspaper was called The Palestine
Post (now called The Jerusalem Post).
The other point concerns ownership of the land. Did Jewish immigrants seize
it or was the land acquired legally? Land settled in by these first
immigrants in the 1880s was bought from the absentee Turkish landlords, who
were eager for the extra cash. The land initially settled in was the
uncultivated swampy cheap and empty land. Later on they bought cultivated
land, some of it at exorbitant prices. In his memoirs, King Abdullah of
Jordan wrote … the Arabs are as prodigal in selling their land as they are
in useless wailing and weeping. Up until 1948, with the formation of the
State of Israel, no land was seized or acquired in any way other than
through legal means.
In the 20th century, Arabs as well as Jews were immigrating into Palestine,
mainly from Egypt, TransJordan, Syria and Lebanon. Between 1922 and 1931,
when the country was administered by the British, illegal Arab immigrants
(i.e. extra to the agreed quotas) comprised almost 12% of the Arab
population. The Hope Simpson Report acknowledged in 1930 that there was
"uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants from Egypt, TransJordan and
Syria". The rate of immigration increased during the early 1930s, which was
a period of prosperity in Palestine. The Syrian Governor of Hauran admitted
in 1934 that 30,000-36,000 people from his district entered Palestine that
year and settled there. In 1939, Winston Churchill said "Far from being
persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied until
their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up
(increase) the Jewish population". This is an important (though much
contested) point, because it dispels the myth that the Palestinian people
have lived there for generations. When we talk about Palestinian refugees,
displaced as a result of the formation of the State of Israel, consider how
many of them would have been as recent to the land as the Jews themselves!
So now we reach that magic date, 1948, the formation of the State of Israel.
And the major point of contention the Palestinian refugees.
This is where objectivity flies out of the window and we get the sharpest
divide in peoples perceptions of actual historic events. In a nutshell,
what happened was that the day after Israel became a country, it was invaded
by Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Within 2 weeks, against all
odds, Israel was victorious, resulting in an expansion of territory and the
displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs who had been living in
As a result of these events not one but two refugee situations were created.
Just under 750,000 Arabs (U.N. estimate) lost their homes. These became the
Palestinian refugees. They lost their homes through two main reasons. Some
were driven out by the Jewish (Israeli) army, others fled after being told
to do so by Arab army commanders, expecting an eventual victory (i.e. when
the Jews would be driven out of the land), at which time people could return
to their homes. Apart from extremists on either side, people generally
accept these as the main reasons, though the proportions (i.e. what
percentage were driven out or told to leave) would vary wildly, depending on
your viewpoint. The Palestinian website,
http://www.palestinehistory.com/palst.htm concedes that about half probably
left out of fear and panic …, which is a grudging concession to the Jewish
view. The quote continues … while the rest were forced out to make room for
Jewish immigrants from Europe and from the Arab world. This leads us to
examine the second refugee situation, the lesser known and the largest one.
Up until 1948, Jews had lived in most of the Arab Muslim countries of the
Middle East. In most cases they had been there over 1000 years before Islam
even existed. From 1947 hundreds of Jews in Arab lands were killed in
government-organized rioting, leaving thousands injured and millions of
dollars in Jewish property destroyed. In 1948 Jews were forcibly ejected
from Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco and
Algeria, who confiscated property from the fleeing Jews worth tens of
billions in today’s dollars. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees created by this
situation, 590,000 were absorbed by Israel.
Now we get to the real point of this article. All the facts presented so far
are from an endlessly contested history. People have argued about these
facts until the cows come home and have got nowhere in the process. So Im
now going to ask you to move on from the murkiness of endless debate and
into the light of certainties.
And the certainty is as clear cut as they come. You can witness it with your
very eyes. It is a fact that cannot be contested. Palestinian refugees still
exist, in camps, on the West Bank, in Gaza and elsewhere. Have you ever
The 820,000 Jewish refugees who were forcibly ejected from Arab countries
where they had often lived for thousands of years were all welcomed and
integrated into Israel or the Jewish world elsewhere, where they became full
citizens. There are no Jewish refugee camps.
The 750,000 Arab refugees who were displaced in 1948, were placed into
squalid refugee camps by fellow Arabs who had just gone to war (and lost) on
their behalf but were unwilling to pay for the consequences. Incredibly,
over 50 years later, over a million of these poor people are still in these
camps, despite billions of dollars of relief paid by rich Arab states, the
United Nations, the EU and others. Where on earth has this money gone and
why on earth are they still in camps and not integrated into Arab society?
Palestinian Arabs are no doubt a peaceful, welcoming and gifted people, but
they have been the greatest victims of the whole sorry affair, pawns in a
wider struggle orchestrated by their powerful Arab brethren. For reasons
known only to their political and religious masters they have lived for two
or three generations within the bounds of these camps. Isn’t a refugee camp
meant to be a temporary home, as it has been for millions of refugees in
other situations, until the people could be relocated to homes of their own?
Not so here. Palestinians were never allowed to be ordinary refugees. They
have been kept in a form of forced captivity for a sinister purpose. A
purpose that has succeeded in transforming a peace-loving gentle people into
terrorist pariahs and has provided an atmosphere where it is considered holy
and noble to send your young men and women out as living weapons of
destruction to blow up other young men and women. What must this do to their
national psyche, when suicide is seen as a positive ideal? Lets be honest
here and consider who is really responsible for this tragedy. It is not
Israel. Cant they see who their real enemy is?
But they lost their homeland, you may say. This is true, though, as I have
suggested, many would have been recent immigrants to the land, rather than
having lived there for generations, as suggested by the propaganda. And, of
course, they were surrounded by oil-rich neighbours who shared their race,
culture and religion. A homeland in Jordan, for example, would have been
perfectly possible and logical. But lets look at it in a wider context.
When I walk the streets and look around I see people of every hue and shade,
I hear accents ranging from the Russian Urals to the Hindu Kush. These are
not people who have been born in my country, these are people who have
relocated here, many as refugees. There is nothing unique about
Palestinians! Lets look at other recent refugee situations.
Quoting from Encyclopaedia Britannica:
The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the post-revolutionary civil war
(1917-21) caused the exodus of 1,500,000 opponents of communism. Between
1915 and 1923 over 1,000,000 Armenians left Turkish Asia Minor, and several
hundred thousand Spanish Loyalists fled to France in the wake of the 1936-39
Spanish Civil War. When the People's Republic of China was established in
1949, more than 2,000,000 Chinese fled to Taiwan and to the British crown
colony of Hong Kong. Between 1945 and 1961, the year that the communist
regime erected the Berlin Wall (opened 1989), over 3,700,000 refugees from
East Germany found asylum in West Germany … The partition of the Indian
subcontinent in 1947 resulted in the exchange of 18,000,000 Hindus from
Pakistan and Muslims from India--the greatest population transfer in
history. Some 8,000,000-10,000,000 persons were also temporarily made
refugees by the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 … During the 1980s and early
'90s, the principal source of the world's refugees was Afghanistan, where
the Afghan War (1978-92) caused more than 6,000,000 refugees to flee to the
neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Iran. Iran also provided asylum for
1,400,000 Iraqi refugees who had been uprooted as a result of the Persian
Gulf War (1990-91). The breakup of Yugoslavia, for example, displaced some
2,000,000 people by mid-1992.
Then, of course, the Jews themselves, over the last 3000 years, have been
relocated more times than you could count.
And what of the West Bank or the occupied West Bank, as it is more often
known? It is true that Israel occupy the land, since gaining it as a
result of the victory in the Six Day War in 1967, but who did they occupy it
from? Well, believe it or not, the West Bank itself was illegally seized by
Jordan after 1948. After doing so, they made it an area forbidden to Jews
can you imagine the fuss there would be if Israel adopted this same attitude
with Arab settlers! So who did Jordan take the West Bank from? Before 1948
the West Bank was part of the area administered by the British as part of
the British Mandate. It didn’t belong to them, they were just caretakers.
Before that, the West Bank called Judea and Samaria by the Jews - was just
the eastern part of Palestine, occupied by whoever happened to live there,
Jew or Arab. It was not land owned by any state, as Palestine was just a
neglected province of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. So, in reality, the West
Bank has not legally ever belonged to any State in modern history. So when
Jewish settlers make their home there, they are doing so on land that has
been legally bought, not seized from anyone else, whether a State or
The crisis in the Middle East is over a strip of land the size of Wales, a
hoped-for safe haven for a people with historical links to the land going
back over 4000 years, a people who have not, in truth, been welcome anywhere
else in the world. The fact that this land is surrounded by over a dozen
nations gripped by a religion characterized by military conquest and
subjugation is one of those tragedies of history that make you realize that
there’s more than meets the eye in the affairs of man. Israel is surrounded
by nations that hate it intensely because its very existence is an affront
to their religion. And try as they might, with whatever tactics they have at
their disposal even if this includes the callous exploitation of a whole
people, the Palestinians they will do their best to right the situation.
They have failed to date, but they wont give up. That is the nature of
Islam. You only need to look at its historical record. But they neglect one
thing. The God of the Jews is far greater than theirs and will ultimately
By Steve Maltz, Saltshakers (www.saltshakers.com)