09 May, 2006

The Interesting Thing About Palestine

The ideas the that Palestinian people are fighting for their land have been accepted by almost everyone. Israel is either viewed as an occupying force, or Palestine is viewed as a fanatical nation fighting for something that isn't theirs. However, no matter which side one is on, the crucial bit of information is this: There is no such thing as a country called 'Palestine' and there is no such thing as a 'Palestinian people'.

The Jews (Israel) didn't displace anyone because no one permanently resided in this particular area of Israel. It was a land inhabited by nomadic tribes and nothing but deserts and swamps. When Mark Twain visited the area, he wrote he found nothing but a wasteland. During the 19 years that the territories, including Jerusalem and Gaza, were occupied by the kingdoms of Jordan and Egypt, no one talked about a Palestinian state, not the Arab countries, not the United Nations, no one. Not even the Palestinians themselves said anything about a Palestinian state or a Palestinian people, because nobody had ever even heard of a Palestinian people.

"There is no such country [as Palestine]! 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria", an Arab leader is quoted as saying. 'Palestine' was a word made up by the British after World War 1 ("Falastin" in Arabic and "Palestina" in Hebrew).

"Palestine" is often incorrectly considered to have its roots in Biblical "Philistine". However, the Philistines (usually referred to as 'Sea People') occupied the west coast of Canaan (present day Israel) and weren't native to the area (which is ironic considering the Palestinians aren't either). "The Philistines lost their independence to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria by 736 BC, and revolts in following years were all crushed. Later, Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon eventually conquered all of Syria and the Kingdom of Judah, and the former Philistine cities became part of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. All traces of the Philistines as a people or ethnic group disappear. Subsequently the cities were under the control of Persians, Jews (Hasmonean Kingdom,) Greeks (Seleucid Empire,) Roman and subsequent Empires." (encyclopedia)

The facts are simple:

1) There never was a Palestinian state or a Palestinian nation. There are no Palestinian people, per se. Rather, these are Arabs living in a region that historically has been called many things, including "Palestine."

2) Israel did not go to war against a Palestinian state and occupy its land. Rather, Israel was attacked by six Arab countries at once (1948 Arab-Israeli War). She defended herself, defeated her attackers, and won the so-called territories, not from the Palestinians, but from Jordan and Egypt.

3) Jerusalem was never the capital of any state but Israel. It was certainly never the capital of a country that never existed. On what grounds should the Palestinians get any part of it?

4) Most Arabs living in Palestine today are not indigenous to the region. It was not until after the Jews had changed deserts and swamps into a productive and thriving land that the Arabs started migrating there. Arafat himself was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt.

This is why there won't be peace in the region until Christ returns, perfectly in line with Bible prophecy. The battle for land and legitimacy between Israel, Palestine and the Arab countries around it, will continue to rage until the end of time, regardless of how many agreements and treaties are signed. Arabs/Palestinians won't stop looking for opportunities to destroy Israel to take back what they claim is theirs and Israel won't stop defending itself against these incursions. Whether there is a Palestinian state or not, there will be no peace. The hatred runs too deep and too strong to be resolved by man.

What does this have to do with us? It can be difficult sometimes given how volitile and eomtional the situaton is, but as Christians, our role isn't to take sides and become sympathizers with one group or the other. Everything happening in the Middle East, certainly everything that affects Israel directly, is happening for a reason. God is putting things into motion that will ultimately lead to the return of Christ and so we put our trust in Him that the situation playing out in front of us is for the ultimate good. By looking at the situation this way, by understanding the facts instead of getting caught up in the emotions, we're able to step back a bit and look at the situation from a more understanding perspective.

Our attention instead should be on recognizing the signs of the times, making sure our lamps are full, reaffirming our faith, and looking for the soon return of the one true King who will bring stability and peace to a land that hasn't known rest for thousands of years.


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