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  • Writer's pictureBeth S.

Israel & the Palestinians - Modern History

Updated: May 3, 2019

(original post from September 22 has been split into three parts: “Israel and the Palestinians”; “Kibbutz Battles” and “Israel and Arabic Neighbors”)

The name “Palestine” was first used by the Romans to describe the land of Israel after they drove out the Jews in 70 A.D. This name referred to the ancient Philistines. Since the Romans knew that the Philistines had been enemies of early Israel, it was their way of mocking the Israelites and stamping out their heritage. The name “Palestine” was associated with the land, not with a people group.

In modern times, the area known as Palestine was administered by the British from just after World War I until 1948. Before that time, the area had been owned by absentee landowners, mainly from the Turkish Ottoman Empire. There never were a “Palestinian” nation, government or people. When Jewish settlers began to come into the area in the late 19th century, they legally purchased land from the Turkish landowners. There were Arabic people in the area, but they were also settlers from surrounding Muslim countries or were Bedouin shepherds.

By 1948, the British were locked in a seemingly endless commitment of time, troops and resources to keep peace between the Arab and Jewish settlers (under the British Mandate). Ongoing battles between the two sides did not seem to have any solution. The British eventually gave up and appealed to The United Nations. The UN tried to divide up the land (Partition Plan) between the two sides and to establish an international oversight of the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

The Palestinian Movement

One of the founders of the Palestinian movement was a man named Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. During World War II, he had a close relationship with Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann. Al Husseini joined wholeheartedly into the Nazi plan for a “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem”. He wanted to kill all the Jews then living in Palestine and Jerusalem and prevent any further Jews from settling in the land. The Palestinian movement was born out of Hitler’s Final Solution.

It is important to note that the Palestinian leadership have been given numerous opportunities over the past 70 years to make peace with Israel. They have been given land and the support of the international community to build their own independent country and government. They have always refused. They want all the land or nothing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”

Israeli War of Independence

On May 14, 1948, the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine declared independence and established their own government. The modern country was named Israel, a revival of the Old Testament heritage and promise of God.

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. -- Isaiah 66:8 (KJV)

Palestinian Arabs refer to this event as the Nakba (catastrophe). They claim that this day signaled the destruction of Palestinian society and led to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Muslims from their homes. This is the popular and most widely accepted interpretation, but the reality is quite different.

On May 15, the day after Israel established its own government, five Arab countries attacked Israel simultaneously. This invasion came from all directions at once - Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. By human standards, Israel had no chance. They were heavily outnumbered. They did not have the weapons and heavy armaments of their enemy. In many cases, the Israelis made weapons from scratch, including building tanks from old trucks and scrap metal and making their own ammunition and Molotov cocktails.

Although many countries, including the US and Soviet Union had recognized Israel’s right to exist, no country was willing to assist them or provide weapons or material support. The stated purpose of the Arab League was the massacre and total annihilation of the Jews. And yet, against all odds, Israel not only won the war, but gained control of nearly 50% more territory than it would have had under the UN Partition Plan.

The Arabic people living in Israel at the time of the War of Independence had two choices: they could stay and fight alongside the Israelis to defend their property; or they could evacuate. Some chose to stay and are now full Israeli citizens. Some chose to leave, gambling that the Arabic attackers would prevail, and they would get their land back. Those who left, and their descendants, are now known as the Palestinian refugees.

Arab-Israelis (Not an Oxymoron)

Roughly 15% of the current population of Israel is made up of Arab-Israelis. These people do not identify as “Palestinians”, but are largely of Muslim Arab, Druze, Bedouin and Christian Arab descent. These people have chosen to live among the Jews of Israel and are full Israeli citizens. They serve in the Israeli military as volunteers (their service is not compulsory) and have full representation in Israeli government. The rights of Arab-Israeli women are vastly superior to their sisters in other Arabic countries.

The existence of Arab-Israelis shows that it is possible for everyone to live in peace. Far from discriminating against Arabs, Israel has incorporated them into society and done so successfully. The Palestinian resistance is simply a political entity with much larger implications for the Arab world in general. With the destruction of Israel as the primary goal, the people who consider themselves Palestinians are simply the chess pieces of their leaders. They have been kept in poverty and indoctrinated with a hatred of Israel for generations.

Since a large part of the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia, holds vast wealth in oil, why are they unwilling to help the Palestinians? There is no reason for the inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank to live in poverty and constant fighting with Israel. So why does it continue? Because keeping the Palestinians angry and vengeful serves a larger political purpose and reflects Satan’s continued attempts to destroy Israel.

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