What is EDGE-X?

Evangelize the Lost, Disciple the Found, Give back to the Community, Edify the Church, all to eXalt the Savior.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 7

Day 7: Mt. Sinai, St. Catherine's, Taba

Hey everyone!

I’ve found that the more raw facts I learn about Israel combined with personal experiences I have had with Israelites, the less I am respecting Israel as a nation. Consequently, because I am respecting it less, I like it less.

Now before you go criticizing me and defending Israel, PLEASE read the whole post and let me explain. I do NOT hate Israel. I am NOT allied with the Arabs who want Israel gone. I do NOT think that Israel is a bad nation.

However, I do think that there are many things about Israel itself and its founding that are not right. For example, let us start with Israel’s founding as a nation (in a nutshell and greatly watered down). We need to go way back. Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob, Jacob had Joseph. They lived in Mesopotamia, many believe where modern day Israel is now. Joseph was sold into slavery and ended up in Egypt becoming the right hand of Pharaoh. 

Through dreams, Joseph new to store food for the coming drought. Eventually, his family moved in with him in Egypt. Fast forward a few hundred years, two million Israelites are living in Egypt. Moses comes, sets them free. They cross the Red Sea, wander around for 40 years, then invade the place where modern day Israel sets. They conquer and destroy everything in the land and claim it as their own. 

Fast forward another few hundred years. After King David and King Solomon, the empire finally falls to the Babylonians. The Israelites are brought to Babylon, while some stay in Israel. After some more years, they are finally allowed to return and rebuild. 

Big bad people take over the area, people revolt and to settle the revolt, the people invite the Roman Empire in settle the dispute (again, this is a really fast nutshell of history). Everyone knows that when you invite the Romans in, they don't leave. They rule through the time of Jesus. Solomon's temple (that was rebuilt) is destroyed again and the Israelites are once again dispersed all over the world (known as the Diaspora). 

Fast forward another few hundred years. It is the late 19th century. Many Jews are making their way back to Israel, so they move in and buy mass amounts of land from the Arabs owning the land. During this time, the Jews develop the Zionist movement, that basically says that the land of Israel rightfully belongs to the Jews and tries to make the Holy Land a Jewish land. Obviously, Arabs do not like this concept because they have been living on this land for over a millennia. 

Before the break of WWI, the Zionists and Arabs were each pushing for their own separate states, naming one Israel and one Palestine. However, because of what is now modern day Israel's strategic position for the war, Britain quickly scooped up the Middle Eastern coast and allied with the wealthy Jews in the area. For promise of a new country, the Zionists were thrilled at the plan. 

What people fail to remember was that Britain has already promised to help build an Arab state through their ties in Egypt to Sharif Husayn, an Arab world leader. Thus the Arabs felt betrayed, sewing the first seeds of discord. Britain then helped move Palestinians off their lands during WWI, establishing their rule over the land. 

All of these broken promises, relocations, and political alliances, divided the Arab world. Most of them didn't know what to do. What is even more baffling is that the immigrating Jews still bought land from the Arabs and continued to move in, and the Arabs let them. It wasn't that the Arabs were so mad at the Jews, they were more mad at the West and Western civilization in general. The Jews were actually very helpful, bringing in new technologies, opening schools and hospitals.

Skip ahead to WWII when many Jews fled Hitler's persecution. Many of them fled in neighboring European countries, but many also made a trek down to Palestine to stay safe. So many Jews immigrating into Palestine caused the Arabs to become angry. They revolted and tried to halt Jewish immigration.

Britain had to step in and settle the conflict (since they had all their assets in the Middle East). Their solution: make two countries, one Arab and one Jewish. The Jews were not happy with the decision, but went along with it. The Arabs hated it and rejected it.

Britain tried again with the White Paper document. The document allowed a Palestinian state to form in ten years with full government. In additions, the Arabs could control how many Jews immigrated into the area and could severely restricted land sales. This time the Arabs were not happy, but okay with it. The Jews were heated.

Winston Churchill had to impliment the White Paper document after Italy entered the war in order to protect the Middle Eastern investments. By doing so, it greatly restricted Jewish immigration at the time they needed it most to escape Hitler. One boat full of Jews tried to get into Palestine, but was denied admittance. When it went back out into sea, it capsized, killing all but two members of the ship.

Jews in Palestine heard of this event and were enraged. They formed an underground defense force to attempt to kick the British out of the Middle East during the middle of WWII. The militia went as far as to assassinate a British politician in Cairo (who happened to be a good friend of Churchill).

Britain's division to the Jews only increased. Despite this, with the world now learning of the horrors of the Holocaust, many people became sympathetic with the Jews, wanting to help. The Jews themselves seemed to unite together, with Zionism as their main flag of honor.

After the war, thousands of Jews across Europe were demanding a place to resettle. To try to solve the issue, Britain went to the United Nations for help. The UN agreed to divide up the land into several Jewish and Arab states, unify their trade and currency, and make Jerusalem the center of it all. The Jews accepted the principle, the Arabs did not.

Lines were drawn. With the US removing itself from the situation and first and Britain siding with the Arabs, the conflict grew. Eventually, the US joined Israel's side and worked to help them. On May 14, 1948, the Jews declared their state Israel. The US acknowledged them the day after, and Russia did later. Soon many countries acknowledged the state until a year later, Israel joined the UN.

Enraged, the Palestinians attacked, but the Israeli forces held their ground. In fact, the held ground they claimed that way extended beyond their UN allotted land. Thus, the land was divided. Jerusalem was split in two; Arabs moved into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Years later, after much tension between the Arabs and Jews, the Six-Day War broke out on June 5, 1967. Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were gearing up to wage war with Israel, but Israel thought the best defense was a good offense. They captured all the lands belonging to the Arabs (including the West Bank, Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip) and the Sinai.

The policy then became a "land-for-peace" agreement: the Arabs wanted peace if they could get their land back. The Sinai was returned to Egypt twelve years later. The Arabs still have not gotten back the Gaza Strip or West Bank to this day.

This is where we are today. While Israel lets the Palestinians run their own land (somewhat, but not really if you look into it), they still own it and have their own power over it. Thus, in 1987, the people started to rebel. What started as strikes and civil disobedience soon led to martyrdom and suicide bombings. Thus, the conflict started again...

Until today. Now they are taking peace with Israel again. Talking with some of the older Jews here, they actually want peace with Palestine and to give them their land back. Some of them are Holocaust survivors, so they know what it is like to live under oppression. They are sympathetic to the Palestinians.

I am not against Israel, but how they became a state makes me uneasy. I don't a problem with people moving back to their homeland, but not taking it by force and kicking other people out. There wasn't a problem between Jews and Arabs at first when the Jewish people were just buying land. But then the Jews developed a sense of entitlement and forced their beliefs on everyone around them. I don't agree with this.

While the people here are nice and all, and Israel is the most Westernized country we have been in, I can't say I like it. Let me tell you why.

I have been through Israeli security today, and honestly, I felt defiled and hated. I felt like I did something wrong when the lady looked down at me and talked down to me like a little kid as she opened up my suitcase and pulled everything out. She looked through my Bible like it was some kind of bomb with a sour look on her face. She kept asking me questions like, "Do you have a bomb?" "Did someone give you a package?" "Are you making a delivery to anyone?" I felt like a criminal when I hadn't done anything wrong. Two of our group members were flagged because they looked suspicious (one was Black and the other was Asian; racist are we?).

I understand tight security. I totally agree with it and support it. However, HOW you treat people in security says a lot about how you view outsiders and a lot about your country. I was very upset with how they treated us, a student group from America (their biggest ally!) on a learning experience of the Middle East. We were even going to help excavate part of their history of the nation for free (well, it was more than free, because we had to pay to come over to work for them) at Bethsaida. I just don't understand how they could have treated us that way. It wasn't just me. In fact, I was one of the nicer ones they treated. You should ask some of our other group members how they treated them.

In addition, I have been talking to other Arabs not in Israel and hearing their stories. Apparently, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel. In return, Israel would supply water to Jordan, one of the poorest watered countries in the world. It seemed great for the first year. Then the Israelis started sending them polluted water they could not use. Jordan, not being able to do anything, cut their loses and moved their water consumption to Syria.

I could go on and on about what I have read about Israel in "I Am a Palestinian Christian". This is such a good book to see a different side of the coin on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I think many times Americans (especially American Christians) side with Israel because they don't know any better. When you really learn the facts, it is hard to side with Israel when it comes to that debate, especially after how bad they have treated the Palestinian Christians. I won't go into detail now (because this post is SO LONG) but you should read it sometime. It will change you life.

Anyway, I have said my piece. I hope this starts to helpful dialogue into what is actually happening over here. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to ask. I will try to answer it as best as I can. Until next time, love ya, and God bless!

Following His Call,
Romans 12:18


  1. I love this. Have you read The Lemon Tree? It's the book that first got me interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's a very unbiased true story about two families, one of them Jewish and one of them Arab. The Palestinian family was forced to move out of their house, which they had lived in for generations, and they fled to Jordan at gunpoint. About 15 years later, it's finally safe for them to come back, and so the son comes and knocks on the door of the house and meets the daughter of the Jewish family. They become friends, but basically spent the whole book at each others throats because they can't agree who has a right to the land. And like I said, it's a true story, and it contains almost the whole history of the conflict.

    Sorry this is so long. That's definitely not the whole book, there's a lot more great stuff. You should definitely read it.

    I can't say 100% where I stand, but I'm definitely not gung-ho for Israel. Their means to nationhood were underhanded, unfair, and violent, which I can not respect. I have strong Palestinian sympathies, but I have no idea what the solution to this whole mess is.

    Oh, and the border control? Total bullcrap. They really didn't like me...

  2. Thanks so much for posting this :-) If you don't mind, I'd like to make a few suggestions:
    "said my piece" not peace,
    and "sowed discord" not discourse.
    Hope you continue to be safe and learn great things about that part of the world!

  3. What i learned from a professor I had whose mother was palestinian and who used to live in Syria is that the initial conflict was started because the palestinians were sort of being screwed by other Arabs. He said that the land in Palestine was owned by absentee landlords in Damascus and the Arabs living in Palestine were mostly tenant farmers and herders and so when the Arab landlords sold the lands the Palestinians lost the land they had been living on, but never owned. And since the Jews wanted to create a society where they did everything because they no longer wanted to be dependent on others (for obvious reasons), they were also out of a job.

    And I would also like to point out that the west bank and gaza strip were controlled by Jordan and Egypt between the 48 and 67 war and neither of them gave the Palestinians independence, so did they really care about the Palestinians?

    Sorry if that sounds hostile its not supposed to those were just some pieces that I think are missing in this story.

  4. Jasmine, i thank you again.

    Allie, LOL, I am horrible at grammar stuff. thanks.

    and Dean, i thank you too. those are vital pieces missing. and it wasn't hostile sounding at all. it was fine. but still. that doesnt excused Israel's treatment of Palestine and other nations. i think Jasmine hit it on the head (on my facebook page)when she said how God's chosen people are not treating everyone else very well with love like they are supposed to.

  5. I agree that God's chosen people should be treating everyone with love, like every other nation in the world should. But the modern nation of Israel is a secular state not a theocracy like ancient Israel and the sad fact is that a lot of Israelis are secular. And a modern secular state is going to respond to an attack or provocation just like any other modern state. If they're attacked they are going to respond violently, just like the U.S. responds violently when we are attacked.

  6. This is such a complicated subject and just like a few others have said, I don't know exactly where I stand on this. However, I do know that I have a heart for the Jews, God's chosen people, and I believe He looks kindly on those who reach out to His first chosen people. That said, the Jewish people and the Israel State are not the same... So I'm fuzzy on my approach towards Israel as a country.
    I have a thought for you. You said in your post, "I don't a problem with people moving back to their homeland, but not taking it by force and kicking other people out... The Jews developed a sense of entitlement and forced their beliefs on everyone around them. I don't agree with this." This is exactly what God told them to do in (I believe) Exodus and Joshua. In this day and age, because of where Israel stands now in relation to God, gosh, I don't know exactly what to think.
    I do know I need to borrow that book from Deanna when you guys come back. :) Happy traveling, Adam!
    PS: have you seen "Free Zone" with Natalie Portman? You might check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Zone_(film)

  7. if the Jews are a secular state only, then i am firmly against Israel as a nation because they barged in at took land that didn't belong to them. i think the only justification of the Jews coming into modern day Israel has to be tied to theology, otherwise they are just mean bullies who kicked other people out of the sandbox.

  8. The government is a secular one, but that does not mean that the there are not some religious people still in the country. And even if there was not it most definitely would not be the first time God has used unbelievers or violence to achieve his goals. And I'm confused about how you said they came in and took the land when in your blog you said that they bought the land from the Arabs and that the other land they took was land they conquered in defensive wars, a lot of which they returned when the nations that attacked them were willing to make peace?

    I also care for the Palestinians and am also angered by the way they have been treated, including christian Palestinians. But the way I see it is that they are caught in the middle of the conflict between Israel and the other Arab nations. The history that I know about Arab nations and Palestinians show me nations that are using the Palestinians as a tool for their political gain against Israel. There actions show they care nothing for the Palestinians, if they did why wouldn't Jordan and Egypt have given them a state when they had the chance? Why would Jordan and Kuwait have kicked the Palestinians out if they cared for them? If the other Arab nations cared why are there more Palestinian refugees now than there used to be, why havn't the wealthy gulf states helped them integrate into the nations they are in, such as Lebanon?

    Although some of the things that Israel has done to the Palestinians is horrible most of them I do not think were done maliciously, the Jews tried to form a state legitamely by buying land legally and seeking statehood by the "owners" of the land, Britain. Then later having the U.N designate their state. But the Jews as a people have gone through unimaginable horrors in their past and they are paranoid about safety and sometimes they go to far in the name of defense, as any people would do if given the same circumstances. That's just my view though.

  9. i just have a really hard time believing that God is ordaining or even supporting Israel's conquest over here, especially since it is harming His own children--Christians who are still living in Palestine and have lived there for thousands of years. they are contiually, to this day, taking lands from the Palestinians. it may be small, a farm here, a building there, but it is still land they are taking.

    I had no problem with the Jews coming in and buying land. what i have a problem with is the Jews coming taking on more land after they are attacked and then preemptively attacking when they feel threatened. in the first scenario, it is like a kid who is attacked, and then after he defends himself and has the bully on the ground, bends down and takes the bully's wallet and all his money (conquering land in a defensive war). in the second scenario, the kid sees a bully coming at him and trying to start a fight, so he knocks the bully in the face first before the fight starts and takes his money again, holding it hostage until the bully promises to leave him alone (preemptive strikes). while some people see these scenarios as totally justifiable, i personally do not. i do not believe that is or was the best way to handle those situations. thats all i am saying.
    might i clarify again, i am not anti-israel. i am not with hesbala or any other terrorist group. i have not lost my salvation. i am not picking and choosing what to believe in the Bible. i am just simply stating my feelings on the situation and why i do not agree.

  10. I 100% agree the current land they are taking from Palestinians is ridiculous and there is no legitimate justifiable reason to be taking lands at this time. And I don't necessarily think God is ordaining it, I was more speaking about the existence of Israel in general when I said that.

    And I also agree that it is horrible that the plight of Christians in the middle east has been ignored especially in Palestine. Speaking of which there is a really good article about that in National Geographic that I'll give to you, if I can find it, if you're interested.

    And I never thought that you were a terrorist or in favor of the destruction of Israel, I understand that you are saying you are in favor of peace between these people, and if you were a terrorist that it would be the opposite and extremely out of character. Can I ask though what you think would have been a better option for them to deal with those situations? And what you think the best hope is to solve the current issues over there given what you've seen?

  11. no, no, no, dean, i didnt think you thought i was a lost cause or something. LOL. but people at my church are all freaking out. and one of my best friends said i personally offended him. my mentor is just beside himself with me. my other friend wants to know why i believe what i believe.

    to answer you questions, what i have found is that there is no answer, really. the only way it can change is if both sides have drastic mind-set change:

    the Jews need to get off their high horse and stop believing they are entitled to every piece of land they step on. the Jews need to learn to share with people who have lived there, not demand they move.

    the Arabs need to realized that the Jews are not evil (even though they forced their way onto their land) and they need to stop trying to force their customs and beliefs on a people who dont want anything to do with it. they need to realize that the Jews are there and there is nothing they can do to change them so they might as well accept them and live along side them.

    the Palestinians.... well, they just need to stop bombing and being terrorist. but to them, they only resorted to that extreme because they have been ignored for so long (and I am NOT justifying thier behavior). they need to calm down and not be so martyr-istic.

    until these three groups can learn to see eye to eye, there will never be peace. this is why the war has gone on so long and peace continues to allude the people. the paradigms need to alter before anything else can happen. and it takes an entire generation of young people rising up to end it and say they are done with the war (which may be happening soon).


What do you think?