Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round aboutin that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.—Zechariah 12:2-3
We watch in horror as time after time, atrocities are committed in the name of religion in the Middle East. Just recently, terrorists attacked a U.S. warship killing and injuring a number of sailors. A Palestinian mob brutally murdered Israeli soldiers while foreign journalists were attacked in an attempt to prevent them from documenting the scene. Violence between Israel and the Palestinians escalates and hopes for peace grow dim. The world press often presents a one-sided view of these stories causing some to believe that Israel is totally to blame. We believe that neither side is totally blameless in this struggle, but the complete story is not being told in the public press, and there are some historical facts that need to be published and considered.
In order to understand what is going on now, we must review Middle Eastern history since World War I: When the victorious Allies were carving up the Turkish Empire, both Jews and Arabs asked for independent states. The world powers were extremely generous to the Arabs by granting them twenty-two independent Arabs states-covering more than five million square miles. The Jews asked for less than one percent of that vast territory. The Allies agreed to this request (which included both sides of the Jordan) in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1920 San Remo Conference of World Powers. (See Map 1)
For selfish political reasons, Great Britain refused to honor the Balfour Declaration in 1921 and took away 77 percent of the Land promised to the Jews and set up what eventually became the Arab country of Jordan. (See Transjordan, Map II) Then in 1922 the League of Nations gave Great Britain a Mandate to prepare the remaining 23 percent of Palestine (including Samaria, Judea, Gaza, the Golan Heights and Eastern Jerusalem) for the creation of a Jewish nation. But in 1923, under French pressure, the Golan Heights were given to Syria.
Then suddenly, oil was discovered in the Arab countries, and “oil diplomacy” was born. British foreign policy changed to favor the Arabs even more. In 1939 the British stopped allowing Jews to go to Palestine. The nations of the world silently agreed. During the Holocaust, the United States and most nations refused to accept the Jews of Europe who were trying to escape. Nearly six million Jews were slaughtered. How many of these victims would have found a place of safety in Palestine if Britain had honored its original promise?
After the horrors of the Holocaust, the nations of the world, feeling tremendous guilt for their failure to live up to the promise of 1922, felt a moral obligation to grant the Jews an independent state. But, unfortunately, the UN Partition Plan of 1947 (UN Resolution 181), further reduced the size of the new Israeli State. (See Map III) This is the resolution that Yassar Arafat wants to revive.
When Israel became an independent State in 1948, armies from six Arab nations defied the UN resolution by invading the newborn State. Outnumbered more than 100 to one, Israel’s untrained and poorly armed forces pushed back the invaders and took MORE of its rightful land than UN Resolution 181 promised. Divine Providence was telling the world that this land belongs to the Jews. God had given it to them.
FALSE CLAIMS TO THE LAND
The Palestinian claim that the Land sustained a thriving Palestinian culture for centuries is a claim not supported by history. Yet the world continues to listen to and believe that this is true. PLO Chairman Yassar Arafat in his speech before the U.N. in 1974 falsely declared: “The Jewish invasion began in 1881Palestine was then a verdant, [green, flourishing] area, inhabited mainly by an Arab people in the course of building its life and dynamically enriching its indigenous culture.”
THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE, but, what are the facts? What do the history books really say about the conditions in Palestine in the 18th and 19th centuries? Please notice the personal observations of the following recognized authorities writing about the state of Palestine. These statements can be verified in various encyclopedias:
1738 Thomas Shaw observed a land of “barrennessfrom want of inhabitants.”
1785 Constantine Francois de Volney recorded the population of Jerusalem at 12,000 to 14,000. Bethlehem had about 600 able-bodied men. Hebron had 800 to 900 men.
1835 Alphonse de Lamartine wrote, “Outside the city of Jerusalem, we saw no living object, heard no living soundThe tomb of a whole people.”
1857 British consul in Palestine, James Finn, reported, “The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population.”
These observations by recognized historians are a remarkable confirmation of the Bible prediction, that during Israel’s period of punishment and dispersion, the Lord would cause the Land to become desolate of both man and beast (Jeremiah 33:10,11). Is it any wonder by 1857 the Land was just waiting for “a body of population!” In the Lord’s providence this needed body of population-the Jewish people-began to return after the end of their period of disfavor, starting in 1878 with the founding of the first Jewish settlement (kibbutz) of Petach Tikvah.
The records of history simply do not confirm today’s Palestinian claim of Arab roots and culture in a “verdant area” since the Arab rule of the land (A.D. 640-1099).
SOUTHERN SYRIA vs. PALESTINE
The Romans changed the name of the Land of Israel to “Palestine.” But from A.D. 640 until the 1960s, Arabs referred to this same land as “Southern Syria.” Arabs only started calling the land “Palestine” in the 1960s. Until about the eighteenth century, the Christian world called this same land, “The Holy Land.” Thereafter, they used two names: “The Holy Land” and “Palestine.” When the League of Nations in 1922 gave Great Britain the mandate to prepare Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people, the official name of the land became “Palestine” and remained so until the rebirth of the Israeli State in 1948. During this very period, the leaders of the Arabs in the land called themselves Southern Syrians and clamored that the land become a part of a “Greater Syria.” This “Arab Nation” would include Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Trans-Jordan as well as Palestine.
TIME magazine stated clearly how the Palestinian identity was born in the 1960s:
“Golda Meir once argued that there was no such thing as a Palestinian; at the time, she wasn’t entirely wrong. Before Arafat began his proselytizing, most of the Arabs from the territory of Palestine thought of themselves as members of an all-embracing Arab nation. It was Arafat who made the intellectual leap to a definition of the Palestinians as a distinct people; he articulated the cause, organized for it, fought for it and brought it to the world’s attentionIf there was an Arab Palestinian culture, a normal population increase over the centuries would have been expected. But with the exception of a relatively few families, the Arabs had no attachment to the Land. If Arabs from southern Syria drifted into Palestine for economic reasons, within a generation or so the cultural tug of Syria or other Arab lands would pull them back. This factor is why the Arab population average remained low until the influx of Jewish financial investments and Jewish people in the late 1800s made the Land economically attractive. Then sometime between 1850 and 1918, the Arab population shot up to 560,000. Not to absolve the Jews but to defend British policy, the not over friendly British secretary of state for the colonies, Malcolm MacDonald, declared in the House of Commons (November 24, 1938), “The Arabs cannot say that the Jews are driving them out of the country. If not a single Jew had come to Palestine after 1918, I believe the Arab population of Palestine would still have been around 600,000”
Jewish contributions and Jewish immigration continued to flow into the Land. The Jews created industry, agriculture, hospitals and more. As job opportunities increased, so did Arab immigration. In fact, in 1939 President Roosevelt observed: “Arab immigration into Palestine since 1921 has vastly exceeded the total Jewish immigration during this whole period.” For example, in 1934 more than 30,000 Arabs from Syria left for “the better life” in Palestine.
During this same time, Great Britain’s White Paper of 1939 prohibited Jews from immigrating to their Land. In 1946 Bartley C. Crum, a United States Government observer, noted that tens of thousands of Arabs had entered Palestine “because of this better life-and they were still coming.” The influx of hard-working Jews since 1878 had made the land habitable.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE KORAN
The Koran agrees with the Bible that God (Allah) made a covenant with the Sons of Israel and assigned the Holy Land to the Jews (See the Koran, Sura V, “The Table”). The Koran also describes the Land given to the Jews as “blessed” and foresees a return of Israel to their Land at the end of days.
The Bible plainly states that God gave the Land to the Jewish people as an everlasting possession. The relatively few Arabs who wandered into the Land between A.D. 670-1878 were temporary dwellers. True history shows that the vast majority of Arabs in Palestine today entered the land in the last century and have no roots in the Land.
The Lord has declared that all efforts to remove Israel from her Land will fail. “And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.” Amos 9:15
All nations that support the Arabs’ opposition to Israel should listen carefully to the Lord’s warning: “Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.” (Jeremiah 30:16) The most clear example of this is seen within the British Empire itself. Prior to WWI it was said that the British Empire was so large that the sun never set on it. Since its denial of their commitment to the Jews, however, their Empire has crumbled and their influence has dwindled to insignificance.
Watch Israel, and for a more detailed description of what the Scriptures say concerning the current situation in the Middle East, contact us for your free copy of the booklet: The Israeli-Arab Peace Process and Bible Prophecy.