Historical Background and Perspective

ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM: Historical Background And Perspective

There is a misconception in the western world that there was a country called Palestine before the 1948 war between Israel and the Palestinians living there, helped by the neighboring Arabs.

I would like to correct this misconception. During the Ottoman rule and through the 1900’s, when the British mandated over the land of Israel, there were Palestinian Arabs living in the land, certainly. But it was shared by the Jews of the Old Testament and the Jews that came back from the Babylonian and Persian captivities on one hand and on the other a diversity of peoples and cultures who lived in the land – the Christian sects, Turks, Armenians, Russians, Coptics, Mesopotamians, Romans, etc. (See Acts 2:5-11, below.)


In 1947 Britain decided to leave the land. Armed disagreement between the Palestinian Moslems on the one hand and the Jews and the British on the other had erupted. The British had renamed the land ‘Palestine’, a name inherited from the old Roman Empire, and inaccurately continued by the League of Nations, currently the United Nations (which I call the Ineffective Nations).


Britain the main colonial power, had tried to get a settlement between the parties involved in the dispute over the land, on who would control it. Later that year the British were desperate to leave, and hastily imposed a settlement to partition Palestine into a Jewish Section and to a Palestinian Section.

The British vacated the colony leaving behind a problem of epic proportion.
In 1948, Mr. David Ben Gurion, the leader of Israel, had declared the establishment of the State Of Israel. The United Nations, including some of the Arab States who voted, recognized the state of Israel by a clear majority. Israel became a full member. The Palestinians rejected the idea of a Jewish state and started a war with the Jews.

I was born on the eastern slopes of Mount Harmon and I remember the war raging over the hills and the mountains close to the Lebanese borders.

The Jews then were 650,000; they had no arms, no tanks, and no planes. I remember seeing the Hagana (the arm wing of the Jews) using an old TOMMY GUN to fight, while the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab nations – Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt – were in the millions, well-armed and ready to destroy the Jews.


In 1948, all the neighboring Arab countries decided to attack the Jews. When Israel became a nation, recognized by the United Nations, the Arabs decided to attack. The Lebanese fired some guns from the north, the Syrians from the Golan Heights, the Egyptians from the west, even some Iraqis came from the east of the desert. After almost six months into the incursion towards the Israeli side, orders came from the King of Iraq ordering the Iraqi contingents to head back to Baghdad and not to engage.


The Lebanese did not have enough men, the Egyptians crossed the Sinai desert and were so ever close to Gaza, when King Farouk of Egypt ordered his commanders to head back to their barracks for a simple reason – his commanders were complaining of shortage of ammunitions. When the Syrians felt the fronts were collapsing one after the other, they did not pursue the attack alone.


Finally the Jews won the war after over a year with the little arms they had. The leaders of the Palestinians had ordered their population to leave the country, convincing them of a rapid and easy return in no time at all. Most of the affluent Palestinians sold their land to the Jews long before this dispute erupted.
Mr. David Ben Gurion, the leader of Israel, had declared the establishment of the State Of Israel. The United Nations recognized the state of Israel by a clear majority, including some of the Arab States who voted. Israel became a full member.


At the end of the war, the land was split under United Nations auspices; the borders with the Arab nations were defined. Israel took the coast and half of Jerusalem; the Palestinians lived on the west bank of the Jordan, and Gaza, with a substantial number staying in the Jewish controlled areas, such as Nazareth, Acco, Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberius, etc. The rest were exiled voluntarily to the neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and some to Egypt, hoping that very soon after the war they would return to their land and then try to take the rest of the Israeli land.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian leaders had sold most of their land to the Jews long before the 1948 war and the promise of return was a false and deceiving one. In 1950, some of those Arab leaders, being coconspirators, were assassinated by Arabs. King Abdullah of Jordan was killed in the west bank while in a mosque. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Riad El-Solh, was assassinated in 1951 on the steps of his plane. Many other Palestinian leaders fled with big caches of money and disappeared and thus avoided assassination – they were considered coconspirators in selling Arab land.
In 1922, the land on the east bank of the Jordan, where the bulk of Palestinians lived, had been given by the British to the Hashemite Abdullah to control. It became the Kingdom of TransJordan. Abdullah was later assassinated and King Hussein, his grandson, took over from his father at age 17. He died in 1999. Similarly, the Gaza strip was mandated to Egypt to administer. In June 5, 1967, and on the first day of the 6 Day War, Jordan lost this west bank strip to Israel, including the city of Jerusalem as well as the Gaza strip and the Golan Heights.


Most of those self-exiled Palestinians, who were falsely hoping for an imminent return to their land, lived in camps and in extreme poverty, while their leaders live in an abundance of wealth. The Wall Street Journal in 1979 estimated the wealth of the PLO leaders at $12 Billion US. Most of it comes from the Arab Gulf States who are rich in oil and give them money to avoid confrontation, as most of those exiled Palestinians abused their privileges with their host nations. In the 70’s, they tried to destabilize Lebanon and Jordan, and threatened their existence. These attempts failed.
Generation after generation has come and gone and the hope of a return was false and misleading to the Palestinians as their leaders played the tune of return.
Again and again, with no hope in sight. Most of the Palestinians – those living inside the territories and those exiled – lived and are still living in extreme poverty. Very few have succeeded, comparatively speaking.


Meanwhile Israel became a nation recognized by the UN, and was of a good stature, building an army and an economy that startled the world. Israel became an exporter of food and electronics to India, Russia and other nations of the world. While their economy was mainly dependent on US aids and loans, yet their skilful business managers controlled many economic sectors of the world trade markets. On the other hand, the Palestinians were and are drumming a different beat.


Leslie Stahl of CBS news 60 Minutes reported in early November 2003 that the president of the PA has a personal slush fund of over $1 billion for his own use and that his wife who now lives in Paris gets $100,000 monthly.
He has his salary. He has personal investment in the Coke Bottling company, the National Petroleum agency, and he trades in various investment entities. All these related funds come from the European Union and from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf States and from previous donations from the same sources.
Stahl also reported that he hands out funds to all those families who have had their children blown up in suicide attacks against the Israelis in the last few years.


The PA finance minister was hired from the World Bank to come and stop the financial corruption in the PA authority. While he was doing his job as Finance Minister, he was subjected to various types of intimidation and scare tactics from gunmen who entered his office and threatened him. The reporter believes that those gunmen came from the PA president. She reported that this large fund was stolen from the PA Authority treasury.
She concluded that Yasser Arafat when contacting the Saudi Royal family demands that their share of the money donated to the Palestinians be given to HIM directly.


On the other hand, while those Palestinians are hoping for a return, generation after generation has come and gone and the hope of that return have almost vanished. These refugees have become a burden on all. Their socio economical structure was and is a concern. The UNRWA, a United Nations relief body, has handed them food and other provisions since 1948 up until now. Recently, in February 2003, the UN said that they do not have the funds to provide food for them much longer.

The Palestinian leaders have in their coffers billions of dollars to spend. The European Union as recently as 2002 gave them 5 Billion Euros for a period of 5 years. In 1979 the Wall Street Journal reported in one of its issues that the wealth of the PLO then was around $12 Billion.
So, why are these people still poor and deprived? If you know the recent history, you understand why.
Now, back to our story. There was no recognizable country called Palestine. Palestinians were inhabitants, who lived in the land of Israel as the Bible tells us, as did many other groups of peoples and cultures.


The Bible Acts 2:5-11:
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
Note: Arabians were mentioned last because of their presence among other nations and not as the dominant force.
Now, about Jerusalem. This is the holy city of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. It belongs to the Jews. It is true that crusaders and other invaders took the city time and again, but ultimately it went back into the hands of the original custodians, the Jews. Most of the buildings were constructed by the Jews, the Jews who originated the worship in the Temple, the Jews who constructed Jerusalem.
Mohammed never came to Jerusalem. He thought he had a dream that he came to Jerusalem, but in reality he never did come. He died in the desert at age 62.
The only time Mohammed traveled is when a war erupted between his Tribe, the tribe of Qureish, and other of his tribe. He migrated from Mecca to settle in Medina to avoid tribal confrontation.


Like others of his tribe, Mohammed was not educated, but he was intelligent and capable of leading his tribe and being at the helm. He learned a great deal from the Jews who were dispersed in the desert as a result of the brutal Roman oppression and also from the Jews who lived in the city of Mecca long before Mohammed was even born. He later oppressed their males and made concubines of their females.


By the same token he learned a great deal of the Jews’ worship habits and customs, such as wearing a garb, a miter, growing a beard, praying and facing certain location (the Jews face toward Jerusalem), washing their parts of the body before prayers, using a laver, fasting, and offering a clean animal as a sacrifice on special days of the year. He observed Jewish habits and traditions. In his hands this became the faith and practices of a dogmatic religion, which has no basic Godly foundation. It is a paradox of faith that religion, the sword and conquest became the order of his daily life.
He also gained much knowledge from another person, the monk Buhaira – a renegade monk – who had split off from the main stream Christian group and wandered in the desert of Arabia. He came to meet Mohammed and became to him a wrongful spiritual mentor and expositor.
He translated and exposed to him vague and wrong fragments of the Old Testament and the New Testament, Scriptures from the odd scrolls he read during his travel in the desert of Arabia. No doubt he told him about the true writings of the holy men of God, about the Lord Jesus, His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His coming again to earth, the only human being to do so ever in the history of mankind. This was literally mentioned in the Qur’an.

[19:15] “PEACE BE upon him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he is resurrected back to life.”
[19:33] “And PEACE BE upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I get resurrected.”

All these facts were copied by Mohammed. He transformed them into a pact of faith, religion and observance, which he and his followers added into his written book.]


And the facts must be corrected once and for all.
The land of Israel and Jerusalem do not belong to the Palestinians or Moslems. They belong to the real indigenous people of Israel and God has the final word.

HERE IS what Winston Churchill had written in 1899:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!
Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualist deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa , raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome .”

Sir Winston Churchill; (The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 London )

End.