Discover more from wolow
Christians and Israel // Part III
Israel, Palestine and Not-so-ancient history
This is part III in a series
Thanks for reading wolow! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Ottoman Empire (1299-1924)
The Ottoman Empire joined Germany and the Central Powers (bad guys) during WWI. However, they experienced heavy losses in most of their battles and internal strife led to the weakening and collapse of their empire.
During WWI the Ottoman Empire most famously orchestrated the Armenian Genocide. Which was the mass killing and deportation of around 1.5 million Armenians. The Armenians were accused of siding with the enemy and were subjected to forced marches, massacres and starvation. To this day, the nation of Turkey denies that the Armenian Genocide ever took place.
At the end of WWI, the Ottoman Empire was dissolved and the League of Nations granted Britain the mandate over Palestine (Israel). In 1917, they issued the Balfour Declaration and promised to support a “national home for the Jewish people” as well as protection to the non-Jewish communities. This led to a massive influx of Jews back into Palestine and began much of the modern tension between Arabs and Jews. However, the Balfour Declaration was itself filled with contradictions and it was impossible for the British to keep any of the promises they made.
After this, the “Zionist” movement gained significant momentum for the first time. The British began to limit Jewish immigration into Palestine because of rising tensions between Arabs and Jews in the region. Although the movement gained momentum after the Balfour Declaration, it has been around as long as the Bible has.
The term zionism comes from the Hebrew word Zion (ציון), which is a hill in Jerusalem. The term Zion has come to symbolize the entire nation of Israel.
The modern idea of Zionism is directly connected to the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12. There are many expressions and ideologies within Zionism, but a common distinction is that the people of Israel must have a nation of their own.
If you believe the Bible, then you must be a Zionist.
See part I for Biblical clarity around this. But I’ll give you a few more Biblical examples.
The book of Jeremiah was written as a message to the Jews in exile to Babylon. God punished them with exile because of their idol worship. Most of us are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11. It’s probably written on your wall, or tattooed on your arm. But do you know the verses that come after it?
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
// Jeremiah 29:11-14
This is a promise from God to restore the Jews back to their Promised Land. Sure, you can apply it to that time you got fired, or your girlfriend/boyfriend broke up with you. But it’s a lot bigger than that.
God tells the nation of Israel that he will bring the people back to the place.
Jeremiah 23, which is a few chapters back is even more interesting.
5 “For the time is coming,”says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 6 And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
7 “In that day,” says the Lord, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ 8 Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”
// Jeremiah 23:5-8
Its ok if you didn’t read the whole thing. I want you to see it in context. I’ll explain it.
This is a Messianic prophecy about Jesus. Jeremiah says that a descendant is coming from King David’s line (David is the 25x great-grandpa of Jesus) and his name will be called “The Lord Is Our Righteousness.” That’s not actually what it says in Hebrew. In the Hebrew, Jeremiah uses the tetragrammaton, YHWH. Or Yahweh as we say in English. The descendant of David will be named God himself, i.e. Jesus.
This is a prophecy that many people say is “in process.” Meaning that some of it has come true and some of it hasn’t. Israel is back in their own land, but they do not dwell safely. Nor is Jesus ruling in Jerusalem. Yet.
Throughout the Muslim conquests, Crusades, the Ottoman Empire and now the British, some Jews remained in Israel, but a majority were spread all over the world. This Jewish diaspora (meaning: a population scattered from its place of origin) begun with the Babylonian exile in the 5th century BC mentioned in the book of Jeremiah and really never ended for the Jews.
They were divided into two primary areas: Northern and Eastern Europe (Ashkenazi Jews) and Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East (Sephardic Jews). These groups of Jews had lived in these places for centuries and had established Jewish culture throughout the cities they lived.
The Holocaust + WWII
There is no way to estimate the impact of the Holocaust.
The Jewish people call it the Shoah, which in Hebrew means catastrophe. At least 6 million European Jews (2/3 of Europe’s Jewish population) were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany and its collaborators from 1933-1945.
You probably know this part of history pretty well. But what you may not know is that in many places in Europe, antisemitism actually increased after World War II. Jewish people attempted to return to their homes and cities, but found people living in their homes and in possession of the property who refused to return it. Many of the Jews didn’t just leave their homes, they left clothes, jewelry, art and all other kinds of valuables.
The Kielce Pogrom
A pogrom is a riot incited with the aim of massacring or expelling an ethnic of religious group. Think about this, this term is typically only used to describe attacks against Jews. The Jews - God’s family - have been so persecuted throughout history that there is a word that we only use to describe destruction against them.
In Poland on July 4, 1946 - more than a year after the end of war in Europe - 42 Jews were killed and 40 more were wounded by Polish soldiers, police officers and civilians in the city of Kielce. Jews who were returning home after the Holocaust found their property taken by non-Jews who refused to return their property. The locals started a false rumor that the Jews had kidnapped a Christian child to use their blood for a ritual. Nine of the attackers were eventually sentenced to death in connection with the violence.
After a Holocaust which had almost completely destroyed their families, Jews found themselves subject to further antisemitism, completely displaced from the cities they once called home, and other countries refused to allow their immigration. This led to mass emigration to two places, the United States and Palestine.
In August of 1945, President Truman asked for the British to allow 100,000 Holocaust survivors into Palestine in his support of a Jewish homeland. President Truman was an early advocate and champion for the state of Israel.
The end of British oversight
Jewish and Arab tensions continued to rise throughout Palestine. Arab revolts had killed many Jews and Arabs. And Jewish Zionist organizations like the Haganah and Irgun attacked the British and Arab homes throughout Palestine.
By February 1947, the British had had enough. They announced plans to withdraw from the region, and in November of 1947 the United Nations developed a plan to partition Palestine into two independent nations. One Jewish and one Arab.
This plan was met with excitement by the Jewish community and protest by Arabs. Civil war broke out after Arabs ambushed Jewish buses, killing seven people. The Jews were more than willing to give the Palestinians the majority of the land, but the Palestinians refused the UN partition.
Now, this is where a major cultural narrative shows up. Palestinians and their supporters will say that the Jews were given “someone else’s land” as compensation for the Holocaust. However, this is not true in the slightest.
Here’s two very clear things about history that should be well known facts:
First, God gave this land to the Jews long before Palestine was ever an idea
The State of Palestine was not established until 1988. Yes. 1988. Look it up. For most of history, “Palestinian” was a catch-all term for both Arabs and Jews who lived in the region of Palestine. Yes, other people, as well as Arabs had lived in these regions for centuries, but they were not a unified people, and never saw themselves that way. And they didn’t until 40 years after the nation of Israel was well established.
That’s why on the original map from 1948 you don’t see the Arab state called Palestine. The UN just designated the area as a “to be determined” potential state. British Palestine was a chaotic place, and a territory under the control of the United Kingdom.
The governmental progression of Palestine looked like this up until 1948:
Old Testament - Kingdom of Israel ➡ Babylon
New Testament - Roman Empire
There was never an establishment of an individual Arab nation within this land. Nor did Arabs establish a nation within the land until 1988. A person could argue that the Muslim caliphate in the 600s was an Arab nation. But it was similar to the Ottomans in that it was a part of a larger empire.
Second, In all history, the Jews are the only people for whom the land of Israel was their national kingdom.
The idea of an “Arab” did not exist in Bible history. All throughout the time that Israel possessed the land and had a Kingdom, the concept of an Arab did not exist. And neither did the concept of a Palestinian. By comparison, historians say the concept of an Israelite/Jew has been around since 1200BC. The Kingdom of Israel was founded by Saul around 1050 BC.
When did Arabs show up? When Islam did. Around 610 AD. If you’re doing the math, the Jews had a kingdom and a nation in the land of Israel 1,659 years before Islam was established and the concept of an Arab was invented. The nation of Israel existed 3,037 years before the nation of Palestine did (1050BC - 1988AD).
The establishment of today’s Israel
By May of 1948, the British had fully withdrawn from Palestine, abandoned the partition plan, and left Palestine’s fate to the Arabs and Jews living there. The day that the British withdrew, the Jewish leadership declared the establishment of the State of Israel. This is 40 years before the establishment of Palestine. The nation that many revisionist historians say that Israel subjugated.
David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli Prime Minister, asked the United States for recognition based on the original UN partition plan and the US recognized them.
“We will sweep them into the sea”
This led to immediate war between Israel and the Arab League. At that time, the Arab League consisted of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Yemen. Palestine could not go to war with Israel, because it didn’t exist. So it was left to the established Arab countries to expel the Jews.
The Arab League completely rejected the UN partition plan and bitterly opposed a Jewish state next to the Arab states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Their goal was not to establish an Arab state, or to take in Arabs who were living in Palestine. It seems that the only goal they had was to “get rid of the Jews.” And they would figure out what to do with the land once they were gone.
Within a few days, close to 10,000 soldiers from the Arab League crossed into Palestine. The Arab Leagues Secretary-General Azzam Pasha was asked how large the Israeli forces were and responded by saying “It does not matter how many there are. We will sweep them into the sea."
On paper, the Israelis had little to no chance:
The Arab League had 4-5x the manpower.
The Arab League had British-made tanks and vehicles, the Israelis had mostly improvised and hand built armored vehicles.
The Arab League had modern fighter planes and bombers, the Israelis used converted transport planes and some smuggled fighter planes.
The Arab League had artillery left over from WWII as well as British and foreign supplies. The Israelis had little to none.
The United States, Britain and most other countries offered little to no aid. The US enacted an arms embargo and the British trained and equipped the Jordanian army. The Soviets initially provided weapons to Israel, but shifted to a pro-Arab stance by the end of the war.
By the end of the 9 month war, Israel was able to keep the territory allotted by the UN as well as capture 60% of the land originally given to the Arabs.
This effectively established Israel as an independent nation and Jews from all over the world began to pour into Israel. Throughout the 1950s, the remaining Arabs in Israel attacked civilians throughout Israel. In 1964, Egyptian President Nasser refused to recognize Israel as a nation and called for its destruction. By the end of 1966, Israeli and Arab forces were in open conflict again.
Too many people don’t understand Biblical or even recent history in Israel. So they take their perspective from uninformed talking heads, random people on Instagram and tiktok and rush to a perspective.
Verifiable (and Biblical) facts:
Israel was an ancient Kingdom on this land 1600+ years before Islam and Arabs were even concepts, and 3000+ years before Palestine was a state.
Israel was a modern state with a government in Israel 40 years before the establishment of Palestine.
God gave the Israelites this land and promised to bring them back with Jesus as their King.
Biblical history is a part of history. It is not separate from the history written in history books. It is a part of it. Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts.
You may be thinking - “If this is true, why are things so messy?” Stay tuned for Part IV - Modern History of Israel coming next.
Thanks for reading wolow! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.