The events of the week that began with Jesus’ humble-but-triumphant entry into Jerusalem and culminated with the crucifixion are unspeakably precious.
The overturning of the moneychangers’ tables in the Temple apparently followed His arrival in Jerusalem. Every one of His recorded acts during this pivotal week is spotlighted by the world-changing events that would subsequently unfold. This story of the cleansing of the Temple comes to our ears and hearts on its surface as revealing Jesus’ desire to re-establish God’s sacred intent for the Temple. To put the emphasis back on prayer and take it away from financial gain. “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer.’ — but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
This level of purpose comes across clearly. Perhaps nothing is more important in this world than prayer. But Yeshua was accomplishing more than this with His decisive and fearless disruption of the status quo.
He knew that He would fulfill the Passover later that week, once and for all, as the sacrificial Lamb for whom God had been preparing the way through the Temple’s sacrificial system. God had instructed Abraham to sacrifice animals. And the specific practice of sacrificing a spotless lamb at Passover had been divinely instructed as the Israelites prepared to depart from captivity in Egypt for the Promised Land. We remember John the Baptist’s clarion announcement: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” And Revelation’s describing Yeshua as “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.”
His overturning the tables that had been used for the business of selling doves and pigeons to Jews wanting to make ritual sacrifices signaled the end of the centuries-old sacrificial system. Fully knowing the price He would very soon pay to deliver Himself up to redeem lost humanity and restore us to His Father and our Father, no one was more appropriately qualified to upset these tables — notwithstanding the indignation of the Temple elites who stood by. This was His way of signaling the new and better covenant; the new dispensation of grace that He, the spotless Lamb, would provide through His voluntary sacrifice of His own sinless blood. He showed us in a way that we cannot forever miss how profoundly God loves every one of us. “For God so loved the world . . .”
Matthew 9:13 is a wonderful, instructive verse. The Torah teachers or scribes had just asked Jesus’ disciples why their teacher ate with marginal people like tax collectors and sinners. Yeshua the great communicator replied, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (NLT; italics added) This is a direct reference to Hosea 6:6, among other passages. Jesus revealed that God never liked the idea of killing animals to sacrifice their blood. But He instituted this practice to paint a picture of Yeshua’s ultimate atonement. Down the long centuries God had worked through a concrete example that He hoped would provide the clear insight to enable Israel, forever the beloved seed of Abraham, to recognize Yeshua.
In Dr. Brown’s The Real Kosher Jesus, he provides several rabbinic texts that speak of the atoning sacrifice of a tsadik (righteous one) as a means of saving the people. He points out that this concept is not a Christian construct; it had for centuries been part of Judaism. As one example, “. . . the Zohar states, ‘As long as Israel dwelt in the Holy Land, the rituals and the sacrifices they performed [in the Temple] removed all . . . diseases from the world; now the Messiah removes them from the children of the world.’ ”
In addition to providing several rabbinic sources for this fundamental Jewish teaching, Dr. Brown details discussions from rabbinic literature associating the deaths of righteous people with atonement. Miriam and the sons of Aaron are examples.
These insights help to clarify the initially-opaque John 18:14, among other verses, which indicates that Caiphas, because he was “high priest that year,” explained the need for one person to die for the people — as the dark events surrounding Jesus’ illegal trials unfolded. While Caiphas undoubtedly had his own misguided reasons for citing this Jewish teaching in support of the outcome of the bogus hearing that was perfunctorily extended to Jesus, Caiphas’ doing so clearly reflects that an understanding of the power of the death of a single person to benefit all the people was present in Temple instruction.
Dr. Brown’s life-long focus on sacred content that matters is deeply appreciated. Its power to enlighten our understanding is considerable.
Who has heard such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)
This is what the Lord God says: Look, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and raise My banner to the peoples. They will bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. (Isaiah 49:22)
They will bring all your brothers from all the nations as a gift to the Lord on horses and chariots, in litters, and on mules and camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring an offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:20)
“However, take note! The days are coming”—the Lord’s declaration—“when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ but rather, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the Israelis from the land of the north and from all the other lands where He had banished them.’ For I will return them to their land that I gave to their ancestors.” (Jeremiah 16:14,15)
“ . . . the nations will know that I am the Lord. For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.” (Ezekiel 36:23,24)
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach appeared recently on a Sid Roth television debate with Dr. Brown (Viewable at: http://www.sidroth.org/site/News2?news_iv_ctrl=-1&abbr=tv_&page=NewsArticle&id=11373&security=1041).
Shmuley recited a list of reasons that Jesus “can’t” be the Jewish Messiah that was, to say the least, less than persuasive. One of his “reasons” seemed particularly strange; Shmuley cited the “unfulfilled” Messianic prophecy that Israel’s Messiah would “restore the kingdom to Israel.” He asked, with his characteristically-intense, rising volume, pitch, and speed, whether anyone thought this prophecy has been fulfilled.
Surely Shmuley is aware of the massive return to Israel in recent decades of people of Jewish ancestry from Russia, Africa, the U.S., and other parts of the world. Christians (and perhaps other people of faith from around the world) have financially supported the return of those who couldn’t have “made aliyah” otherwise. Even if Shmuley refers to the restoration of military power and superiority to Israel, rather than the restoration of its lost tribes and scattered citizenry, these military objectives have also been accomplished by tiny Israel in recent decades!
Yes, Rabbi Shmuley, many viewers are absolutely certain that these amazing prophecies have been — and are still being — fulfilled before our eyes.
The prophetic verses above (and there are many more on this topic) become so powerful and precious in light of recent history, with regard to the return of the lost tribes or scattered citizenry of Israel. But the statement at the end of Isaiah 66:20, which is about Israel’s children being brought back to her in every possible type of conveyance, is deeply intriguing: “as the Israelites bring an offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.”
Could the “clean vessel” be a new Israel (“Messianic” Israelis), whose citizens’ eyes will increasingly be freed from the “scales” that have blinded them (also foretold in prophecy), and whose people will at long last see the One who has so long been obscured from her understanding and recognition — and finally requite to the Lord the offering of love and recognition that He so richly deserves?
May it increasingly come into manifestation before all rejoicing hearts. Maranatha!
“For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” -Neh. 6.9
If we would have anything to do with the enlargement of God’s purposes in the earth, we must be anchored in the understanding that quite frequently, we will experience severe and exacting conflicts.
There is a form of discouragement that feeds the self-life and nurtures cowardice. It might better be called self-pity. Oswald Chambers addresses this ill brand of discouragement like this:
“…. discouragement is disenchanted self-love.”
“…. self-pity is Satanic.”
When we have not adequately launched out with reckless trust in the Lord, we will be repeatedly overcome with self-pity until a deathblow is dealt to our egotism, and if we pass through that death rightly, our illusions of life and ministry will have been pulverized. This is the work of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and it is a mercy from the Lord. Not until the axe has been laid to this root can we even commence to participate in the building of His house.
“If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified.” -Chambers
If behooves us to discern if we are bound by self-pity, for if we are, it is likely that we are stubbornly moving forward in something that He has not ordained, even if we are purportedly doing it ‘in His name.’ Our “strange fire” must be quenched, our self-initiated ventures must be crushed, and we must be wrung out entirely of the mirky waters of human ambition. It is a necessary pulverization, and once we get familiar with the good hand of the Lord that effects it, we learn to welcome that holy inward work.
When the Lord has permitted the pulverization of our brazen presumption, as was the case in the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem (for Judah had not heeded to the real prophetic view), He gives vision to to men like Nehemiah. Such servants are required for the building of that which the Lord has envisaged in His great heart.
As with Moses, Paul, Nehemiah, or any other man authentically formed and sent by the Lord, the mountain of fulfilled vision is shown as off in the distance, and a great valley lies between the “Here am I, send me” and the “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Most men faint along the way, having been inspired by the distant mountain, but unwilling to brave the valley of obedience. We delight in the fragrance of the rose but are unwilling to await its growth, and we wilt when touched from time to time with an unexpected thorn. Yet every seasoned florist has felt the thorn from time to time. It is intrinsic to dealing with the genuinely precious things.
We need to come to grips with the fact that the principalities and powers of darkness will press against the true work of the Kingdom until the day that they are cast into the lake of fire. There is no such thing as coasting into the fullness of Jesus Christ. The Scripture says we “wrestle“ and struggle and battle against evil powers in this age.
We will necessarily be met with tumult and our categories will be jostled. This pilgrimage is not a vacation. It is, as one author has written, “a long obedience in the same direction.” Along with all the joys, we must be aware that there will be resistance.
“It is costly to go on to the heavenlies, it is painful; but it is the way of the pioneer, and it has to be settled that that is how it is.” -T. Austin Sparks
Nehemiah would not be discouraged. He turned to the One Who has ever and always been secure and enthroned above every power, for he was cognizant of the fact that he was not building a wall unto himself, nor even a wall within which his people could experience a padded life. It was “from Him, through Him, and to Him,” therefore the servant cannot succumb to self-pity, for that would not be in keeping with the pilgrimage or the work. It would not be in keeping with his calling as a man who walks circumspectly before the heavenly King.
This understanding is in the ‘DNA’ of the apostolic faith. Paul’s own calling was infused from the beginning with the idea that he would meet with serious hostility from men and devils.
“…. he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” -Acts 9.15b-16
But the line of his obedience held because he was also conscious from the beginning that the call did not have to do with anything that issued to his ego or his self-glorification.
“….he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name….”
Dear saint, get your eyes off of yourself, pierce through the influence of the powers of darkness in prayer, and behold again the Lamb of God on the throne. Wisdom and strength for the pilgrimage are realized when we behold “the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
Not only is equipment available, but He will nourish, enliven, and hydrate your soul when you let go of self-pity and delight in His Person. “Thou preparest a table before me” in the wilderness, “in the presence of my enemies.”
He is worthy of the totality of your heart, He will fill “everything in every way,” and He will make clear that holy work to which He has called you. Whatever that simple and glorious work might be, let your preoccupation be the glory of Christ, and every bump, hurdle, and wind in the valley will be a privileged occasion for demonstrating His wisdom to the same powers that had previously incapacitated your pilgrimage.
“The evangelization of the world [and every other true obedience] is a desperate struggle against the prince of darkness, and everything his rage can stir up in the shape of obstacles, vexation, and opposition, whether by circumstance or by the hand of man.” -W.C. Burns
“…. in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.” -Acts 20.23
“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God….” -Acts 14.22
“Therefore…. I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” -Acts 26.19
In Israel the more ultra-rabbinical a sect, the less they read and study the Bible. Most ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel and elsewhere teach their young men the rabbinical books of the Talmud, and their average yeshiva student knows selected Biblical texts only through the pre-digested commentaries of the Talmud and other rabbinical literature.
However, there are branches among Orthodox Jews that are giving priority to the study of the Bible. One such individual was Rabbi Mordechai Breuer who recently died at the age of 86. He was born into a family of modern Orthodoxy and became a highly respected authority – although virtually unknown outside of Israel – on the Old Testament books of the Bible.
In 1958 he was asked to proofread a Hebrew edition of the Bible and suddenly found himself to be considered an expert on the subject. From then on, his life was spent examining the Hebrew Biblical texts.
The Oldest Existing Hebrew Bible
As all Biblical scholars know, there are a great number of manuscripts (mainly fragments) of the Hebrew Bible which have been preserved over the last thousand years and are used today by scholars who are studying the texts or translating them into different languages. But the Bible considered to be the oldest and most reliable in existence is the Aleppo Codex (Codex is an archaic word for the earliest form of a book. Biblical text were usually written on scrolls to be read in the synagogue. When scribes wrote the text in book form, it was only for scholarly study), copied around 920 A.D. in Tiberius by the famous scribe Aaron Ben-Asher. The priceless Bible was stolen in the 11th century and brought to Egypt, finally ending up in a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria for 600 years.
Up until the 1950’s, the complete manuscript in Aleppo was still in good condition. But with the creation of the modern state of Israel, and the ensuing Arab rioting, scholars pleaded with the Aleppo rabbis to move the Bible to a safer location.
However, for centuries the rabbis of Aleppo had fiercely guarded the codex, keeping it in almost total isolation and not even letting Jewish scholars examine the manuscript! What is worse, the rabbis would not allow the scroll to be photographed, probably out of superstition that as long as that Bible was the sole possession of the Jewish community in Aleppo, they would be safe from calamity. (http://www.bible-researcher.com/aleppo.html)
In 1948 the synagogue was set on fire; the codex disappeared and the Aleppo rabbis led the world to believe it had been destroyed by fire. But witnesses to the rescue of the manuscript informed the Israeli government, and with much behind-the-scenes pressure, worldwide, the rabbis finally allowed the Aleppo Codex to be smuggled into Israel page by page with tourists in 1958. However, to the horror of the Israeli scholars, only two-thirds of the Bible arrived; the Torah was almost completely missing along with a few other portions. Out of a total of 487 pages, only 295 arrived.
Until today, the missing leaves are a subject of fierce controversy as some scholars b elieve they are still hidden among the Jewish community of Aleppo.
A Modern Searcher for God’s Word
In 1968, Rabbi Mordechai Breuer was assigned the task of determining the Hebrew Bible’s wording, spelling, vowels and cantillation (chanting) from ancient manuscripts for a modern Bible commentary which would be faithful to the belief that the Biblical text was inspired by God.
Breuer would have given almost anything to have had access to the Aleppo Codex as the basis for his research. And by now, the Aleppo Bible was in Israel! However as scholars are prone to do, the professors at the Hebrew University studying the Bible would not allow any other researchers to share the asset! (Ha’aretz, 22Mar07)
Due to lack of choice, Breuer used five other most important Bible manuscripts (although newer than the Aleppo Codex). He began his own monumental reconstruction of the Masoretic texts (see the story below) comparing them word for word. His method of selecting the correct text each time he observed variations, was to choose the spelling and notations of what he found in the majority of the five manuscripts. For example, if manuscripts 1, 2, 3 and 5 agreed on a spelling, but 4 did not, he would use the majority spelling.
By accepting the version of the majority and discounting the deviations of the minority, Breuer was convinced he was uncovering the one authoritative original writings of the Bible preserved by Masorah (oral tradition) – the ancient version given by the inspiration of God. (Ibid)
Other scholars strongly disagreed with his methodology because they supposed that there were many oral traditions which came down through the centuries as Jews emigrated to different nations. But Breuer believed that from time immemorial there was a single universally accepted oral tradition and the variant spellings and notations in the different manuscripts were simply errors made by scribes.
Recreating the Text of a Lost Torah
Thus, Rabbi Breuer reconstructed the entire Old Testament by examining each word in the five most important ancient manuscripts. And then his wildest dream came true. Somehow, he managed to get his hands on a copy of the Aleppo Codex. He never even told his son how he came to possess the facsimiles, but the son said when he came home that day with the manuscript, “he acted like an accomplice to a crime!”
Then the next miracle happened. When Breuer began to compare his re-creation of the Biblical text from the five manuscripts to the Aleppo text, lo an behold, they were exactly the same except for two places! An incredible discovery! This comparison proved that from the time the books of the Bible were written there was one and only one universally accepted version of the Masoretic text that was handed from one generation to the next, and it proved that the Aleppo Codex faithfully recorded it.
Furthermore, this meant Breure’s method could be used authoritatively to reconstruct the missing portions of the Aleppo Codex. (Ibid)
Rabbi Breuer later issued an independent version of the entire Old Testament that was quickly accepted as the most reliable and accurate. The “Jerusalem Crown” Bible is a modern version of the Hebrew Scriptures based on the Aleppo Codex and the reconstruction work of Breuer. It is the official version of the Bible of the State of Israel and used when the President of Israel is sworn into office.
Dead Sea Scrolls 1000 years older than Aleppo Codex
With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, very few dramatic changes in the Biblical text have been found. The Dead Sea Scrolls have, in almost every case, confirmed the accuracy of the Masorah, and suggest that an ancestor of the Masoretic Text (a scroll or codex with notations) was indeed in existence at least 100 years before the birth of the Messiah.
There is one very interesting difference found in the Dead Sea Scrolls in Psalm 22:17 (English, 22:16). The Masoretic texts read “like a lion are my hands and feet” which does not make sense. But the Septuagint – a Greek translation of the Old Testament by Jewish scholars in the second century B.C., – reads, “They have pierced my hands and feet.”
Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed the Septuagint version of this verse! Since Psalm 22 is one of the most important and clearest chapters describing the death of the Messiah, this is an important verification. Many of the latest revised translations have incorporated changes due to research done with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Nevertheless, nearly all are theologically insignificant such as minor misspellings.
The Bible went through a remarkable history to make it into this century, especially in view of the ancient methods of transmitting texts by hand, sometimes in primitive conditions, and considering that the scribes lacked photocopy machines, computers, printing presses, and similar modern inventions. (http://byubroadcasting.org/deadsea/book/chapter2/sec3.html)*
The Mesorah notations in the margins of the text show the painstaking and passionate zeal these ancient scribes possessed in their quest to safeguard the accuracy of the sacred text from generation to generation. The world owes an enormous debt to these dedicated Jewish scribes who spent their lives copying the Word of God, letter by letter, notation by notation, so that after several thousand years, we may still find salvation through the authentic Words of God as originally written down by Moses, the prophets, the kings and inspired men of God.
More than 67,000 Nigerians made decisions to dedicate their lives to Yeshua and many people experienced healing as a result of mission trips completed by the Isaiah 2 Initiative.
Ron Cantor, an active member of Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv, took a team of young people from his congregation. The Isaiah 2 Initiative has completed two mission trips to Nigeria. To our knowledge, these are the first Israeli Messianic Jewish missionary trips. Ron describes the inception of this vision,
February 14th, 2009: I was in a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, when the Lord spoke to my heart.
I had just been invited to organize a mass outreach campaign by local leaders from Adamawa State in eastern Nigeria, but I was struggling internally. Something wasn’t right!
As I prayed that morning I felt in my heart that I was not to return to Nigeria alone, but to bring Israeli young people with me so they too could fulfill their call to be a light to the nations and be deeply impacted in the process—returning to Israel on fire!
That was the beginning of our “Isaiah 2 Initiative.”
The young missionaries were touched by the simple way of living they observed throughout Nigeria.
The initiative draws its name from Isaiah 2:3b, “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
The tribal King of the hosting city, a Muslim, graciously accepted these Jewish believers from Israel. Cantor states,
It is a tradition in Nigeria that when a visitor comes to a city, he or she is received by the mayor and the tribal king.
The king of Hong is a Muslim, and given the backdrop of Islamic violence against Christians in northern Nigeria, his words were even more powerful.
“You have come to Hong and have answered my prayers.”
A Muslim king was praying that we would bring the Gospel to his city? I didn’t argue with him!
Everywhere we went, we were literally treated like royalty by everybody! The joy on their faces, anticipating our coming to their village with the Gospel, was humbling.
A Nigerian spokesman said he and his fellow countrymen were particularly touched to be visited by people from “the country we have read about in the Bible.”
Among the reports of miraculous healing that resulted from the mission were those of vision being restored to a previously blind woman and hearing to a man who had been deaf. On one night of the campaign the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was proclaimed as the one and only God — whereby objects and articles connected to superstitions, idols and the occult were publicly burned.
Ron summarizes the trip this way.
By God’s grace we in Israel will continue to focus on preaching the good news of Yeshua to the nations. We believe that as the body of Believers in Israel embraces its role to be a light to the nations, it will release grace on Israelis to confess Yeshua.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that the young Israelis who come on these trips have life-changing encounters. Their boldness to share the good news here in Israel has been reinforced and their faith to believe for miracles strengthened.
“…. the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple….” -Mal. 3.1a
A friend and teacher of mine once gave a remarkable definition of man-made traditions with regard to spirituality:
Religion is man’s attempt at making God something he can manage.
This has long been the egotistical disposition of mankind: seeking to create God in an image we prefer, rather than receiving and loving Him as He is.
The prophets of Israel were commissioned by the Lord to shake His complacent and sleepy-hearted people away from their preconceived notions and traditions, and to usher them into a revelation of God’s true nature and purpose.
The false prophets of Judah in Jeremiah’s day, for instance, leaned hard on age-old traditions, and used them as a blanket of false security. They claimed that judgement could not befall Jerusalem, for the tradition declares that God Himself is in the land and that it is therefore protected and covered. The moral conduct of the priests and prophets, the lifestyles of the people in the land, and the nature of Judah’s political activities were not to be discussed. Israel was protected because of Abraham’s faithfulness, and no trouble could overtake them. Or so they assumed.
Tradition says that Yahweh lives in the midst of the people. This is interpreted as Israel’s great security against all danger. In contrast to this, the prophet discerns the freedom of Yahweh in His coming. Yahweh cannot be domesticated by knowledge oriented toward the past, nor can He be attached, like some predictable element, to a pious view of existence. Rather, He shatters the fixed conception that Israel developed in her tradition, and in this, His new and terrifying coming, He proves Himself to be Yahweh….
…. the name of Yahweh cannot in its true content be considered neutrally as tradition. It is the suggestive appellation of the One who, for all that is said about Him, remains a personal subject and decides Himself, in His freedom, what He will do when He comes. And as certainly as He once came to Israel, as tradition tells of Him in Israel’s worship and apart from this, He is never at the disposal of humans like earthly property.
(The Fiery Throne: The Prophets and OT Theology, Walther Zimmerli; Fortress Press, 2003; p. 4)
He never contradicts His own character, but He does obliterate our definitions and categories, especially when we are seeking to utilize Him for our own purposes. “He is never at the disposal of humans like earthly property.”
His radical mercy will shatter our self-righteous assumptions and ideas. His fierce wrath will burn up our moral lightness and our loose views toward sin. He cannot be confined to our tidy theological definitions and traditions. The prophets remind us that we cannot fit the Lord into our schedules, plans, and dreams. If we would have anything to do with Him, we’ve got to cast our lives- lock, stock and barrel- into His Kingdom. After all, by nature, only God Himself is free.
We experience the glorious freedom of love, righteousness, peace, and truth only as we sink our souls into Him.
Recently Messianic Jew, Ron Cantor, gave an importunate message on the foreign policy of the White House. Cantor holds both Israeli and US citizenship allowing him to both admonish and redirect the aspirations of the State Department. He ‘felt compelled’ to deviate from his normal Bible teaching and provide this necessary history lesson which he hopes will get out to the world. Some highlights from the message are:
Quoting Jeremiah 31:8 and Ezekiel 36:24 the foundation of the modern State of Israel is the Lord’s promise to regather Israel and this is based on a ‘covenant of circumcision’.
The borders the US administration wants to start with for Israel are NOT borders of peace, or based on natural topography but are where two armies just happened to stop fighting, not a ‘holy grail’ to be assumed.
President Truman basically upstaged his own State Department and the US Ambassador to the UN in recognizing Israel as a nation ahead of the process to hand over the Palestine Mandate to the auspice of the UN. (This took chutzpa on Truman’s part which in retrospect was very significant).
The goal of the PLO was to destroy Israel. It was founded in 1964 and at that time Israel did NOT have control of the Golan, Gaza, or Judea and Samaria. These areas were under the control of Syria, Egypt, and Jordan and provided a great opportunity to make a Palestinian State. So it is not about a state or borders.
Moshe Dayan had a media blackout that allowed the fictitious statements of Abdul Nasser to draw the Jordanian army to attack Israel and subsequently be defeated thus gaining control of Jerusalem and the West Bank. Five nations were assembled against Israel, with 500,000 soldiers in the 1967 war, while the total population of Israel was about 2.5 million Jews.
President Bush in 2004 understood that these borders were indefensible and would threaten the security of Israel.
The speech by the US President on May 19, 2011 was to be about the support and celebration of democracy and peace in the Middle Eastern countries seeking freedom from despots, but de facto forces Israel to a position which emboldened her avowed enemies, thereby increasing the likelihood of another conflict.
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
“We have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967. For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz. We shudder when we think of what would have awaited us in the circumstances of June, 1967, if we had been defeated; with Syrians on the mountain and we in the valley, with the Jordanian army in sight of the sea, with the Egyptians who hold our throat in their hands in Gaza. This is a situation which will never be repeated in history.”
History is replete with the exchange of territory at the hands of war and conquest. How should we look at the modern state of Israel? The above quote by Abba Eban is the famous reference to the pre-1967 armistice lines as “Auschwitz lines” of which our President wants to use as a basis for the two states of Palestine and Israel. Commenting on the President’s speech, Charles Krauthammer sagaciously states,
Note how Obama has undermined Israel’s negotiating position. He is demanding that Israel go into peace talks having already forfeited its claim to the territory won in the ’67 war — its only bargaining chip. Remember: That ’67 line runs right through Jerusalem. Thus the starting point of negotiations would be that the Western Wall and even Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter are Palestinian — alien territory for which Israel must now bargain.
The very idea that Judaism’s holiest shrine is alien or that Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter is rightfully, historically, or demographically Arab is an absurdity. And the idea that, in order to retain them, Israel has to give up parts of itself is a travesty.
The point is well taken that President Obama once again has weakened Israel, although more seriously, at the negotiating table in same way he did with the settlement freeze. What exactly are Israel’s concerns with the pre-1967 lines? The video cited below gives a graphic illustration of Israel’s security concerns.
Arab countries make up territory 650 times the size of Israel.
The distance between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is 44 miles.
An aircraft can traverse the country of Israel in less than 4 minutes. An aircraft from the Jordain border can be in Jerusalem in 2 minutes. See map.
70% of the population and 80 % of the industrial capacity of Israel is within the reach of hills of Judea and Samaria (West Bank). See map.See map.
The narrowest point of the coastal plain is a mere 9 miles.
Certainly, this is a unique situation as are other things with the Arab-Israel conflict (for example, the refugee issue, water resource issues, and historical revision and false ancestral claims). And this is precisely the point: the world cannot just hand over a state to the Palestinians who have refused offers that even included half of Jerusalem as their capital. What remains enigmatic is why our President would put such stress on any negotiations. Better these issues are settled by talks rather than bombs or bullets or public fiat. God help Israel, God help President Obama.
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
Is there any subject more controversial than the question of the legitimacy of the modern State of Israel? Is it the eternal home of the Jewish people, promised to them by God Himself? Or is it the illegitimate home of violent Jewish occupiers, an apartheid state guilty of ethnic cleansing? Or is it something in between? In the midst of the often emotional arguments on both sides, it is helpful to review five simple truths about the Mideast conflict.
1. There is no such thing as a historic “Palestinian people” living in the Middle East. To be sure, there have been Arabs living in the land of Palestine for centuries. (The land of Israel was derisively renamed “Palestine” by the Romans in the second century A.D.). And it is true that some of these families have lived in Palestine without interruption for many generations. But at no time before 1967 did these Arabs identify themselves as “Palestinians,” nor did they seek to achieve any kind of statehood there. As expressed by former terrorist Walid Shoebat, “Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?”
Before 1967, there was no such thing as Arab, Palestinian nationalism and no attempt to develop the territory as a homeland for the Arabs who lived there, and in 1936, when the Palestine Orchestra was formed, it was a Jewish orchestra. In fact, the original name of the Jerusalem Post, the flagship Jewish newspaper, was the Palestine Post.
There is no question that there are several million people who identify themselves as Palestinians today, and many of these people have suffered great hardship in recent years. Nonetheless, the concept of a Palestinian people is a modern invention, and it is part of the anti-Israel propaganda machine without any basis in fact. The recent comments of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, claiming a 9,000 year Palestinian pedigree, are purely fictional: “Oh, Netanyahu, you are incidental in history; we are the people of history. We are the owners of history.”
2. There were anti-Jewish intifadas in Palestine two decades before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. We are often told that Jews and Arabs coexisted peacefully in Palestine prior to the formation of the Jewish state in 1948, or at least, prior to the rise of strong Jewish nationalism. In reality, as Jews began to return to their one and only ancestral homeland in the late 19th century, hostilities began to rise among their Arab neighbors, despite the fact that there was more than enough room for both.
By the 1920’s, radical Muslim leaders like Haj Amin Al-Husseini, later a confidant of Adolph Hitler, were organizing intifadas against the Jewish population, with many Jewish lives lost. And what helped fuel Al-Husseini’s Jew-hatred was the anti-Jewish sentiment found in the Koran and early Muslim traditions. Post-1948 Jew-hatred simply built on centuries of Islamic anti-Semitism.
3. Jewish refugees fleeing from Muslim and Arab countries were absorbed by Israel after 1948; Arab refugees fleeing from Israel after 1948 were not absorbed by Muslim and Arab countries. Despite the fact that the Muslim nations surrounding Israel are 650 times the size of this tiny state, they made no effort to absorb the approximately 600,000 Arab refugees who fled Israel in 1948 when war was declared on Israel by five neighboring Arab nations.
To this day, these refugees are not welcomed by other Arab states. As expressed more than 20 years ago by Ralph Galloway, former head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, “The Arab States do want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel.” Yet Israel absorbed roughly 800,000 Jewish refugees that had to flee from Muslim nations after 1948.
4. Only one side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is truly committed to peaceful co-existence. It is often stated that if the Palestinians put down their weapons, there would be no more war but if the Israelis put down their weapons, there would be no more Israel. This is not to say that all Palestinians are warmongers and all Israelis are doves. But the vast majority of Israelis are not driven by a radical ideology that calls for the extermination of their Arab neighbors, nor are they teaching their children songs about the virtues of religious martyrdom.
Israel does not relish spending a major portion of its budget on defense, nor does it relish sending its sons and daughters into military service. It simply will not surrender Jerusalem, its historic and religious capital, and it will not commit regional suicide by retreating to indefensible borders. In return it simply asks the Palestinians to say, “We embrace your right to exist.”
5. The current uprisings throughout the Muslim and Arab world today remind us that Israel cannot fairly be blamed for all the tension and conflicts in the region. The nation of Israel is obviously not faultless in the current conflict, but it is ludicrous to think that without the presence of this supposed evil nation in the Middle East, all would be well. There have been constant disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and in 1980, Abd Alhalim Khaddam, then Syria’s Foreign Minister, admitted, “If we look at a map of the Arab Homeland, we can hardly find two countries without conflict. . . . We can hardly find two countries which are not either in a state of war or on the road to war.”
Certainly, there are many obstacles that stand in the way of a true peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and the road ahead is fraught with uncertainty, but it would be a good starting point if we replaced myths and emotional arguments with facts.
Dr. Michael Brown is the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network.
Pastor Joseph Haddad is an Arab Israeli who leads a Messianic congregation in Nahariya, in northern Israel.
In recent years the congregation has included Lebanese Christians who had fought alongside of IDF troops in Lebanon for 25 years.
Five years ago, when the Israeli army withdrew from southern Lebanon, these Lebanese Christians who had stood with Israeli forces as the Southern Lebanese Army had to leave their property and possessions and seek refuge in Israel.
Haddad says that these Lebanese Christians had suffered many casualties in their willingness to lay down their own lives to defend the northern Israeli border against terror attacks.
We recall Yeshua/Jesus’ saying that no person has a greater love than the person who lays down his life for his friends.
Haddad speaks of the first Jewish person who came to know Yeshua in his congregation. His name is Yacov. He had been an underground fighter alongside of (former Prime Minister) Menachem Begin as they fought against the British in the ’40s to establish the State of Israel.
It was a Lebanese Christian refugee who last year invited Yacov to attend Haddad’s congregation. Yacov was 72 years old. He met and accepted Yeshua while attending.
Haddad reports that only two weeks after Yacov’s salvation, he had a severe heart attack. He managed to make it to a neighbor’s front door. His body was declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.
After repeated electrical shocks, he was revived, but he remained unconscious for three days. He opened his eyes on the fourth day. Doctors described his recovery as miraculous.
But Yacov had not been without awareness while he appeared to be unconscious. Like many who have survived near-death experiences, Yacov was given a tour by the best of personal tour guides.
He reports that he encountered Yeshua, dressed in white and radiating a dazzling light. Yacov says that Yeshua took him by the hand and they toured heaven together. Yacov reports that Yeshua spoke of the heavenly Jerusalem, our eternal home.
Yacov was new enough in his faith walk that he hadn’t read Revelation 21, but his description of what he saw confirms it. Yacov, like many who have had similar experiences, was disappointed to find himself back on Earth.
His one regret? “That I didn’t have a camera to videotape all the amazing beauty of the heavenly Jerusalem.”
Haddad described Yacov as the “first-fruit Jewish believer” in his Lebanese congregation.
He said a particular blessing to him in recent months has been seeing a young, former fanatical Muslim holding Yacov’s hand while they praise Yeshua together.
Increasingly in Nahariya and across the world, similar glimpses of the “one new man in Messiah” can be caught by those who have eyes to see.
Christine Colbert is a writer and editorial consultant who hails from Kansas City.