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The Israeli-Palestinian Debate

One of the most disturbing wars in history began with British protectorate rule over Palestine. Begun in the 1920s, the “Holy Land” war continues between Arabs and Jews to this day. With such tremendous hatred for one another, will a solution ever be found?

While teaching at Houston Baptist University 30 years ago, I invited an Israeli diplomat to my class. One of the students was the son of missionaries to the city of Nazareth. In the course of Q and A, the student asked about Palestine’s refugees. The diplomat immediately told my student there was no such place as Palestine.

The student responded, “Well, sir, I was born there.” This is but another extreme example of the contempt the modern nation of Israel holds for the original inhabitants of a little strip of land on the Mediterranean Sea.

Israelis today claim the land first belonged to them. Back, even before pre-recorded history, a man named Abraham, called “the father of the Jews,” immigrated from modern-day Iraq to Palestine’s land of the Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites and numbers of unknown (to us) tribes.

Around 500 years before Christ, the kingdom of Israel was destroyed. The area has been ruled since by everybody and their cousins.

An attempt to find a homeland for the dispersed Jews of the world began in the late 19th century in Europe. Theodore Herzl is considered the founder of what has come to be known as Zionism. It did not catch on until the British took control of Palestine.

“Zionism is a movement for the restoration of a Jewish national state in Palestine, is how the New Standard Encyclopedia defines Zionism. After the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, Zionism became largely a movement to obtain aid for Israel’s development.”

Herzl wanted to establish a Jewish state free of anti-Semitism. His movement began to jell in 1918 when the British took over Palestine from the Turks (Turkey was on the losing side in World War I). It was then that the British, with Herzl and others, prompted the Balfour Declaration:

“His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

That this decision would not prejudice the civil and religious rights of the Palestine people (who had lived there for thousands of years) was wishful thinking.

Palestine was invaded in 1948 and the local people pushed out of their homes. Some Arabs were paid a little money for their land and homes, but they were made second-class citizen if they stayed. Leon Uris wrote his popular novel Exodus about the time of the invasion. I have never understood his title. Exodus means “to go out,” and the Jews were moving in.

A number of ultra-conservative Christian leaders are of the opinion the 1948 take-over of Palestine is prophesied in the Bible. They see it as the beginning of the end-time. Now, Jesus can return to the earth and set up his perfect kingdom with the Jews back in a new “Israel.”

The Israel of Bible times and the modern nation by that name are not the same. God did not return the Jews to Palestine. The British government aided by the United States and the Zionist lobby created the political Israel. Without American military aid of billions of dollars every year, there would not be an Israel today. (Israel tops the list as receiving the most of our foreign aid to any country.)

Today the West Bank of the Jordan River, west of the Kingdom of Jordan, is home to the Palestine Authority. Then in the tiny Gaza Strip bordered by Egpyt, next to the Mediterranean Sea, is another Palestine headed by the war-like Hamas party.

In 2007 Israel blockaded Gaza. The U.S. government went along while the people continued to suffer. Now, since Hamas began shooting rockets into Israel, killing less than a dozen Israelis. Israel responded with air raids and a bombardment that is more than “an eye for an eye.” There is widespread unemployment and poverty in Gaza. Electricity and fuel supplies are limited. Water and sewage a mess.

Our former president kept saying Israel had a right to protect its people. True, but how about some help for those who had their land and future taken from them in 1948?

There is no solution on the horizon. I wish someone had the wisdom to bring peace to the whole Middle East, but little can be done until the Israel-Palestine problem is solved. God told old Israel not to trust in the power of Egypt to survive. Today’s Israel might consider the same thing regarding America.

One thing is certain: More military action will not bring peace. Besides huge aid to Israel, the United States sells and exports more arms than any country in the world.

That’s not a hopeful sign for peace.

Britt Towery lives in San Angelo, Texas. He journals online at www.towerytales.blogspot.com.