Friday, July 10, 2009

Who Says Israel Belongs to the Jews?

Many Christians certainly do not believe it is their business to try to advise the government of Israel what to do. However, most do believe it is within their realm of responsibility to draw attention to what the Holy Scriptures, the Torah and the Tenach, have to say about matters that are important to the nation and people of Israel today.

In this regard, I want to draw attention to the special Covenant, which the God of Israel made with Abraham, the father of the Israeli nation and people, some 4,000 years ago. And God called it "an everlasting covenant," which means that it must still be in effect today.

In the Torah book of Genesis, chapter 17 and verses 7 and 8, God Himself spoke to Abraham and told him: "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God."

The devastating Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict today is primarily about land, this very same land of Canaan that God mentioned in His covenant with Abraham. And this conflict cannot be fully understood, much less resolved, without a clear understanding of this ancient, but everlasting covenant between God and Abraham's seed.

Former Member of the Knesset and former Tourism Minister Benny Elon has published a book that strongly stresses this important truth. It's relevant title is, "God's Covenant with Israel." He emphasizes that the Biblical land boundaries that God specified in His covenant with Abraham are the best solution to the Israeli-Arab land dispute today.

Elon relates that he resides today in the modern, flourishing city of Beth El, one of several modern cities in Judea and Samaria that were also ancient cities of Israel. These cities magnify the rightful ownership of Israel's historic heartland by the Jewish people of today. He believes it is his God-given right as a Jew to live in Beth El, even though many consider it to be located in Arab territory.

The former MK also finds it hard to believe that many of today's Israeli leaders do not consider God's ancient, everlasting covenant to be significant today. "Unfortunately," he writes, "many Jews in Israel do not study the Bible and have only a vague idea about their connection to the land, let alone the covenants." He adds, "I want to remind the citizens and leaders of Israel of our God-given right and responsibility to this land."

Elon proceeds to conclude that the creation of a Palestinian Arab state on the land of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is not God's plan, since it violates God's covenant with the children of Israel. He also stresses that violation of this covenant will put at risk the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

With all this in his mind and heart, Elon goes on to the next step in his reasoning process. Since all the ancient land of Canaan, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, belongs to the Jewish people, the Palestinian Arab people and the Palestinian state belong on the other side of the Jordan. He calls this plan, "The Right Road to Peace."

All other peace plans have failed, Elon writes, because they have ignored God's Covenant. Any plan based on the division of the land is doomed to failure, he stressed. The miraculous return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland and the re-birth of their ancient nation, is the most significant event in the modern history of the Middle East, he adds. And it serves to confirm that God's everlasting covenant with the Jewish people has not expired.

Elon acknowledges that establishing the Palestinian Arab state on the other side of the Jordan would not be easy. However, he considers that the present state of Jordan is in reality a Palestinian state already. At the end of World War I, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate over Palestine, which included the lands of both sides of the Jordan, to build there "a National Home for the Jewish People." But in 1922 Britain gave the eastern two-thirds to the Hashemite Arabs, who established a Palestinian Arab state on that land long before the Jewish state was re-established.

The influx of Arabs moving from Israel to Jordan would have to blend with the present Jordanian population and live under their government. It is recorded history that the government of Jordan expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat some 25 years ago, and even now they do not allow the so-called Palestinian Arabs to live in Jordan or become citizens even though most of the Israeli Arabs are from the same Arab stock as most of the Jordanian Arabs. However, Elon feels that strong pressure from the United States and the international community could help open the Jordanian gates.

Elon also proposes that Israel, the United States, and the international community will also have "to put forth a concerted aid effort for the long-term development of Jordan, to rehabilitate its economy, and to enable them to absorb the influx of additional Arab citizens within their borders."

He says it will take something like the post-World War II American Marshall Plan to make the Jordanian consolidation plan work. It will take an enormous amount of financial, technological, and educational aid to create a viable enlarged Palestinian state. But he adds that the international community should be willing to do it to bring about this long sought solution and peace. He also thinks that a program of such extensive aid "would most likely be welcomed in Amman."

Such a plan also would include the dissolution of the present Palestinian Authority, whom Elon primarily blames for the present scope of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dissolving the Palestinian Authority would uproot the terrorism infrastructure, he says, and put an end to the present incitement and violence.

However, Elon does not mention that this plan would put an end to the Arab hatred and animosity toward the Jewish people. And even though he outlines this plan as the best one yet designed, he does not go so far as to express confidence that it will someday be enacted.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is Netanyahu Strong Enough?

It is no surprise that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government has already come under strong international pressure to abandon its opposition to the "two-state solution," and hand over a so-called Palestinian State to the Arabs. Netanyahu's stand has already put him on a collision course with the Obama administration, as well as with the United Nations and the European Union.

We conservative Christians agree with Netanyahu's concerns that a Palestinian state would impose a serious threat to Israel's security, that the Palestinians have yet to show any desire to fulfill the promises they made in several peace agreements, and that they are fighting internally with each other and are in no condition to maintain a viable state.

The US, the UN, and the EU, with some cooperation from the Israeli left, have succeeded in labeling the Israeli Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria as "the West Bank," and in identifying it as "occupied Palestinian territory." These world powers obviously ignore that all of Judea and Samaria are part of the land area that the God of Israel promised to the Jewish people as "an everlasting possession." And they do not seem to understand, therefore, that the Arabs are the illegal occupiers of Jewish land, not the other way around.

While many analysts are expressing doubt that Netanyahu will be able to handle the pressures from the world powers that he has inherited, we Christians will be praying and pulling for him to be strong and stand his ground. After all, shouldn't it be obvious to these world powers that anyone would have to be blind or incredibly biased to believe that this "two-state solution" will guarantee peace? Where have they been looking for the past 60 years?

Meanwhile, it was overlooked by most of the press that Prime Minister Netanyahu quoted from the Bible in his inaugural address. He recited from Psalm 131: "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me."

It was special to hear the new Israeli leader echo the ancient King David in looking up to the God of Israel for some Divine assistance. We would like to see the new prime minister and his entire government maintain such a practice, and we believe God would respond positively. Then Netanyahu stated in his address, "It is not with the elation of the victorious that I stand before you today, but rather with the feeling of heavy responsibility."

He added: "I ask for your trust in a time of global crises, the likes of which have not been seen in years. Our nation faces two enormous challenges, an economic challenge and a security challenge."

We note that Netanyahu's new government platform calls for strengthening security, advancing the peace process, safeguarding the Jewish character of the state, and allowing freedom of worship to all religions. It adds that the government will work to confront the financial crisis, to create jobs, to fight poverty, and to bring prosperity. Until recently there was no mention by Prime Minister Netanyahu of agreeing to a "two-state solution."

Hopefully, the new Israeli leader will be strong enough to withstand all the international pressure by standing his ground insisting the Palestinians fulfill their part of any agreement. I believe he moved in this direction knowing that the Palestinians will never fulfill their obligations under any agreement made with Israel and thus there will never be a Palestinian state. Netanyahu knows Muslims will never recognize Israel as a nation and thus Israel will never have to surrender its real estate to a people bent on its destruction.
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