Zola Levitt taught that while the Book of Job tells the story of a man — his story parallels the larger story of the country of Israel.
We remember early glimmerings of the important ideas in Job. For example, its raising the question “Why do the righteous suffer?”
And that most-beautiful statement of faith that Job managed to voice in the midst of his grievous trials: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
As we read to see if there was anything in Job that opened the door for dark experiences, we consider his realization “The things that I have greatly feared have come upon me.”
We might even have gone so far as to look deeply at why God, rejoicing in Job’s righteousness, more or less paraded Job before Satan for him to consider — and ultimately take aim at. We heard one analyst observe that God’s boasting over Job to Satan was done with the hope that after Satan had taken all of his best shots, God would then be able to bless Job even more. We appreciate this opinion, because it arrives at the same enormously-loving Father that Jesus “walked” before us.
But Zola’s teaching that in Job, as in other scriptural stories, there is a parallel between the central figure’s story and Israel’s story is particularly helpful.
God knew that while Satan’s worst arrows would bring Job — and Israel — very low, even close to despairing — that Job and the Jewish people would never turn their backs on God. He knew that the crusades, the pogroms, World War II — all the horrific anti-Semitic experiences — would leave Israel an emaciated, disenfranchised state of “dry bones.” But He also knew, and even prophesied for Satan to see, that the dry bones would come together again, the scales would fall from Israel’s eyes; that the second time Yeshua appears, His own beloved brethren would run to embrace Him. That like Job, God’s beloved Israel will finally come into her own.
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.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. Matthew 5:10 (NKJ).
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you”. Luke 6:27-28 (NKJ).
These commands were put into practice recently in Israel at a hearing of accused attacker Jack Teitel. Many are familiar with how Ami Ortiz nearly lost his life opening a Purim package in March 2008. The Ortiz family was targeted because of their open faith in Messiah Yeshua. The current legal proceedings are to determine if Teitel is ‘legally competent’ to stand trial. Almost 3 years to the month of the attack, Ami was in the court room for these hearings for first time face to face encounter. Leah Ortiz writes about the account that
There were several recesses during the long hours, when Teitel was taken out of the courtroom and then returned, hands and feet shackled, and surrounded by guards. We were forewarned not to approach him or talk to him. When he would come out, we would go near to the door of the courtroom, and Ami would sit on a barrier which is used to keep the media separated from the prisoners, which is in itself pretty high. When he sat on it, his head nearly touched the ceiling, and from that perch and vantage point, he watched Teitel. Ami remained very calm, and took seeing Teitel for the first time in person very well. He said that he felt OK, and it didn’t seem to throw him off his equilibrium to see his attacker.
Suddenly, a recess was called, and Teitel and the guards came out, and proceeded to walk in our direction. I looked at him directly in his face, and for the first time he made eye contact with me. His eyes searched my face for my reaction to him. I just looked at him, and he saw no hate in my face, because I refuse to hate, even though my poor son has suffered and continues to suffer from his hatred and violence. He looked at David the same way, searching his face for a reaction. Then Chaim called out to him, “How did it feel to see Ami Ortiz in Court today?” Chaim said that Teitel turned around and looked at him with a demonic look that chilled him to the bone. He said he had never experienced anything like that stare before.
The impact of this demonstration of the character of Messiah by the Ortiz family hopefully will be realized in all of Israel. Opportunity for Israelis to see the transforming power of the message of Yeshua exists as this case unfolds. This case and others that involve ‘harassment’ of individual citizens of Israel by the hands of anti-missionaries has come to the attention of the local secular news. On the Maoz Ministry blog a 3-part video series has been posted showing the local news segments. (The Ortiz story is on part 2). It is encouraging to see the secular station actually use the Maoz film footage. So not only does following the words of Yeshua get media coverage but a Messianic congregation is seen as a legitimate positive expression of one’s Jewishness. The conversation of religious tolerance and freedom is disclosed benignly for the Messianic community and malevolently for the anti-missionary establishment. This is a diametric shift in the spiritual atmosphere in the modern Jewish State witnessed in this generation. This is new territory for the gospel in Israel. Moving forward, we can expect to see deeper restoration for the nation as promised in Scripture (Ezekiel 37:26-28), albeit she faces an existential threat from her enemies. Below is the video mentioned:
It is typical for this writer to pray that the Jewish people see their Messiah in the Biblical feasts, particularly Pesach (Passover) and Yom Kippur. With an increasing volume the light of Israel’s Redeemer will be shown through the believers in ‘erets’ Israel (land of Israel).
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
The push for a new state for the Arab Palestinians may be attained by September of this year. The way this could be achieved is outside of the current peace process and could lead to negative results. A lengthy article has been written by David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post explaning how this could come about. In essence if the UN Security Council reaches an impasse on its ability to maintain order and stability, the process can then go to General Assembly where resolutions are passed via two-thirds majority. Although non-binding, this “Unity for Peace” Resolution has been used before where the dynamics on the ground affected the related parties (for example, boycotts and sanctions). The article states,
The Palestinian leadership, that is, anticipating that the US will veto its unilateral bid for statehood at the Security Council, will take the matter to the General Assembly. There it will push for the necessary two-thirds GA support for recognizing “Palestine,” presumably along the pre-1967 lines and with a “right of return” for refugees, under a “Uniting for Peace” resolution to ensure global action.
If this were to transpire, critical issues that normally are solved through consensus could become flash points of contention and further world condemnation. Horovitz adds
Most Israelis may well believe that the failure to make progress in negotiations with the Palestinians stems from the other side’s refusal to take positions that would guarantee Israel’s physical and demographic security alongside the proposed Palestine. Most Israelis may well believe that the Palestinian leadership has neither encouraged its people to accept the Jewish right to statehood, nor accepted this right itself, and has maintained an environment in which terrorists who target Israelis are regarded as role models.
But the sad fact is that most of the international diplomatic community simply doesn’t accept this narrative, and tends increasingly to blame strong, sovereign Israel for failing to grant independence to the weak, stateless Palestinians. Rocket attacks from Gaza, bombings at bus stops in Jerusalem, even horrific murders of fathers, mothers, children and babies in their homes, are evaluated in that context.
So there is certainly no automatic, or even readily attainable, blocking vote in the Security Council for the Palestinians’ demand for statehood, even if the establishment of that “state” is being sought while the core issues of dispute with neighboring Israel remain unresolved.
Another area of incitement being reviewed is the attitude to peace: “They say that Jews have no right to be in this region, Jews have no right to be here. This is especially noticeable in school text books, where Israeli presence isn’t even mentioned. There are no maps with Israel. (Ynet News).
If such an event were to occur the security of an estimated 200,000 Jews would be of immediate concern. Just as a point of fact, other items that have been in negotiation are water, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem.
The manner in which this Administration has conducted its foreign policy over the past few years, allowing others to take the lead in domestic and international affairs, may pave the way for this potentially historic event in September.
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is considered “the most famous rabbi in America” by Newsweek magazine and is the international best-selling author of 23 books. He has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, was a spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson, and has his own take on spirituality and religion (see biography here).
As a Jewish believer in Jesus, Dr. Michael Brown is active in Jewish evangelism, debating rabbis on radio, TV, and college campuses. He is a radio show host, author, seminary professor, and ministry leader. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literature from New York University (see biography here)
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