It was 1947 and millions of refugees needed a home. They moved into an area inhabited by a peaceful diverse population. Instead of joining the existing population, the Sunni Muslims drove the Sikhs and Hindi out and formed the new nation of Pakistan.
That same year, in the aftermath of WWII, Jewish refugees were seeking a homeland. The region of Palestine was home to a vast Arab population, but among them many Jews lived peacefully. The United Nations sought to create two nations—Israel and Palestine. Civil war broke out between the Israeli and Arab Palestinians and Israel won the war. The UN provided international legitimacy for Israel to declare statehood, which it did on May 14, 1948.
The next day, May 15, 1948, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt attacked Israel, sparking the first Arab-Israeli war. Many today claim Israel committed many atrocities which prompted recent attacks. Yet, there were no atrocities committed on Israel’s first day to provoke attack. The Jews have continued to live peacefully with the Arabs that make up roughly 21% of Israel’s population. However, Muslim Arabs have sought genocide of the Jewish people. The recent attacks against Israel are part of their ongoing genocide war against Jews.
There is obviously a lot of political wrangling to sift through and nuances that should be considered. However, a lot of Christians are wondering how they should respond to Israel’s plight.
First, Israel today is not a continuation of Israel from the Bible. As far as God is concerned, “a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by letter” (Rom 2:29). Zionism is a philosophy that sees Israel as God’s promise of the land forever (Gen 13:15; 15:18; Josh 14:9). Joshua declared God’s promise fulfilled (Josh 21:43-45). However, this promise was conditional, “If you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do…every place on which place on which the sole of your feet treads shall be yours” (Deut 11:18-32). Zionists do not recognize the fulfillment of God’s promise in Joshua or the conditional nature of keeping the land. Israel was dispossessed of the land by Assyria, Babylon, Macedonia, and ultimately Rome under God’s design because of their faithlessness.
Second, the conflict between Jews and Arabs goes back to the conflict between Isaac and Ishmael. While both are sons of Abraham, there was a natural conflict between the two and the nations which sprang from them. When Mohammed developed his Muslim religion, he based it upon a supposed link to Ishmael. The Islamic religion today continues to trace its lineage to Ishmael and the conflict with the Jews. This is why Mount Zion plays prominently into both religions, and why both races continue to fight over it.
Third, the only real hope for peace in the middle east is Christ—which both sides consider anathema. In Christ there is no mountain of specified worship. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. In Christ salvation is freely offered to all. However, Jews and Muslim despise Christianity, and therefore cling to their land and weapons.
How should Christians respond? Unlike the Zionists, we don’t believe the Jews have a God-given right to the land of Israel. However, we ought to support their right to exist. We recognize that nations rise and fall. The Jews fought wars and shed their blood for the land of Israel, much like every other nation that exists today. Russia. Bangladesh. France. Pakistan. The United States. All of them include lands bought with blood and war.
Israel is a nation. It has its own laws. It welcomes a diverse population. It isn’t perfect, but like any nation it should be allowed to protect its people—a people that includes Jews and Palestinians living side by side in peace. The Arab states surrounding Israel, and some Palestinian people living in Israel are dedicated to the Khartoum Resolutions which includes: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.” This animosity against Israel is not based on the supposed cruelty of Israel, but because of the very existence of the Jewish race.
If Israel is forced to give up its state and repatriate any Palestinians who were displaced, what should be done to the nation of Pakistan which also displaced many peaceful people when it became a state? Someone has rightly observed, “If Palestinians laid down their weapons, there would be peace. If Israel laid down their weapons, there would be genocide.”