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We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching the Bible and understanding our time in

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Under siege - Israel or the Palestinians

T

Recently I had the opportunity to address a mixed audience at a meeting in

Southend arranged by Fair Reporting, a response group looking at the issue

of bias in media reporting on Israel. A number of church-goers who take a

negative view to Israel turned up which gave rise to lively discussion after

my talk.

 

Their view was that Israel is a country which has taken Arab land by force

and is guilty of running an Apartheid regime in which the Palestinians are

like David, oppressed by a cruel Goliath called Israel supplied with the

latest weapons by the United States. Influential on their thought was the

Christian Aid film, Peace under Siege, which claims that Israel is

responsible for the continuous displacement of the Palestinian people and

the fact that there are no jobs in the Palestinian areas. Rev. Lucy Winket,

interviewed on the film, spoke of Israeli soldiers shooting at children

firing live ammunition at stone throwers with a result that at every

corner a Palestinian boy is shot.

 

Israel under siege from Islamic hatred

 

The very title of this film gives the lie to the real situation. It is not a

peaceful Palestine that is under siege to an aggressive militaristic

Israel. In real terms Israel remains the David besieged by the hostile

Islamic Goliath, which is indoctrinating its population, especially its

youth, with the most virulent anti-Semitic hatred imaginable and arming

itself to the teeth.

 

Textbooks in Palestinian Authority (PA) schools teach that Jews are evil

racists, treacherous, enemies of the Prophets, and that suicide bombers

who murder Jews are heroes and martyrs. Parents of suicide bombers

publicly declare how proud they are that their children choose to become

martyrs. In PA run summer camps, children receive weapons training, stage

skits in which they kidnap and murder Israelis, and sing songs about

destroying Israel and replacing it with Palestine. None of this of course

is mentioned in the Christian Aid film. Nor did it show Palestinian gunmen

using children throwing stones as a cover for their attacks on Israeli

soldiers. These gunmen are the ones really responsible for every child who

is shot or hurt in the conflict.In their mosques PA appointed clergymen

teach Muslims that they have a religious obligation to wage jihad (Muslim

holy war) against Jews and Israel. The PA controlled media pumps out a

constant flood of hatred, which has become so severe that Rabbi Eric Yoffie

protested what he called the anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi language in the

Palestinian media. The maps used in PA schools, media, official offices,

and even on the T-shirts worn in summer camps show all Israel as Palestine.

The goal of destroying Israel is not some theory or far-off dream. It is

the living, breathing reality of everyday Palestinian Arab society.

 

Of course this is not just the situation in the PA controlled areas. Hatred

of Jews is widespread throughout the Muslim world. Muslim anti-Semitism sees

Jews involved in a sinister plot to destroy Islam, depicting Jews as enemies

of God, of humanity, and of Islam. In Muslim countries, The Protocols of

the Elders of Zion, the 19th-century document claiming to reveal a Jewish

plan to conquer the world, is widely distributed, quoted, and believed. This

notorious forgery, which originated in Tsarist Russia, was a key part of

Hitler’s propaganda campaign to demonise the Jews in the run up to the

Holocaust. The official Egyptian Government Television broadcast a 40-part

series claiming that for the past century, Jews have been trying to take

over the world in accordance with the plan described in The Protocols of

the Elders of Zion. A study of Saudi Arabian school textbooks found

numerous references to the Protocols.

 

Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, used his speech at the opening

session of the 57-state Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Putrajaya,

Malaysia, on 16 October 2003 to argue that the Jews control the world: The

Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule

the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. The speech

got a standing ovation from the assembled kings, presidents, sheikhs and

emirs, including many who run supposedly moderate pro Western regimes.

 

Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, in his role as President of Europe,

wanted to put out a statement from the EU condemning Mahatir saying he used

expressions that were gravely offensive and very strongly anti-Semitic.

This move however was vetoed by French President Chirac.

 

Palestinians oppressed by their own leaders

 

At the meeting in Southend a number of accusations were made about the way

Israel treats the Palestinians, for example the erection of the wall in the

West Bank, which makes it difficult for Palestinians to travel, and the way

Arab Christians are treated in Bethlehem and Beit Jala. I pointed out that

the wall is only being built because of terrorism against Israel. If

terrorism ceased there would be no need for the wall.

 

Before the current Intifada began in 2000 many Israelis were travelling into

Palestinian areas to trade and to visit restaurants and other businesses to

the benefit of the local Palestinian economy. In our Winter 2000 / 2001

issue (available on request) I quoted an article written just before the

Intifada began written by Hirsch Goodman in The Jerusalem Report

expressing the Israeli hope that normal relations would develop between

Israelis and Palestinians through trade and leisure activities. When Arafat

chose to abandon the peace process and launch the Intifada this hope was

cruelly dashed.

 

As far as the treatment of Arab Christians is concerned, the inhabitants of

Bethlehem and Beit Jala and other traditional Christian areas of the

territories have been systematically oppressed and often driven from their

homes by force by Muslims. When Palestinian gunmen were attacking the

southern Jerusalem suburb of Gilo during the current Intifada, they forcibly

commandeered Christian homes just across the Green Line in Beit Jala as

bases from which they fired on Jewish homes. There have also been examples

of Muslim converts to Christianity in the PA areas being persecuted and even

killed by the authorities.

 

In fact all over the Muslim world Christian minorities are facing

persecution, with churches being burned down, forced conversions to Islam

and the suppression of the most basic human rights. Why is there so little

protest about this from the Western church when it happens in Egypt, Saudi

Arabia, Iran and Iraq, but uproar over the situation for Palestinian

Christians? Why is Israel always blamed for the problems of Palestinian

Christians instead of Islam?

 

Regarding the economic situation for the Palestinians, again the real

responsibility for this must lie with those who have launched the Intifada.

Israel has to take steps to defend itself against terrorism. As a result

Palestinians have lost their jobs in Israel and also trading opportunities.

 

Added to this is the scandal of Arafat’s gross misuse of funds. The

International Monetary Fund reported that between 1995 and 2000 Arafat

seized $750 million from the PA budget and placed the funds in a bank

account under his sole control. Much of this money was donated by the EU to

provide hospitals, schools and basic infrastructure for the PA areas.

 

As in many other Arab regimes, the poverty and backwardness of the people is

caused by the corruption and incompetence of the leaders. Israel then

becomes the convenient scapegoat to blame for the suffering of the people,

diverting attention from their rulers who are the real culprits, just as

happened to Jewish people in Tsarist Russia and Nazi Germany. For the most

part our media buys this lie which is why so many people today, including

Christians, are seeing Israel as the cause of all the troubles of the Middle

East and even as the number one threat to world peace, as a recent survey in

the EU concluded.

 

Conclusion

 

All of this reminds us of the words of the Bible which speak of a time of

trouble coming for Israel and the Jewish people in the last days of this

age. In Daniel 12.1 we read:

 

At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over

the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never

was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your

people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.

 

God is looking for believing Christians to stand by Israel and the Jewish

people and to oppose the spirit of anti-Semitism, which is always

anti-Christian in essence as well. As Paul wrote in Romans 11.28-9 the

Jewish people are beloved for the sake of the fathers, for the gifts and

calling of God are irrevocable. The reason for this whole controversy over

Israel and the Jewish people is that Satan knows that Jesus is coming again

soon to destroy his evil world system and he is throwing everything he can

against Israel and the Jewish people in the vain attempt to prevent this

from happening. The place Jesus is coming to is Jerusalem and that is why

the whole situation around Jerusalem is the focus of so much world

attention. In the book of Zechariah we read that Jerusalem will be a

burdensome stone for all nations (i.e. the whole world will somehow be

involved in a controversy over Jerusalem) in the days before the second

coming of Jesus. When He comes He will set up His Millennial kingdom from

Jerusalem and The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our

Lord and of His Messiah and He shall reign forever and ever! (Revelation 11.15).

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