42. Orthodoxy and Other Faiths, Judaism Part Two

What follows now will be “politically incorrect”, at least in America. Last week we looked at the glorious Old Testament history of the Jews, the Chosen People of God. But the situation has changed. By rejecting their Messiah, the Jewish nation has cut itself off. The Church is now the true Israel, the new Chosen People of the New Covenant. The “succession of faith” that began with Abraham now continues not through the Jews but through the Church – so long as we are faithful. This happened not because God was unfaithful to the Jews but because they were unfaithful to him. This is the clear teaching of the New Testament. Since this is so contrary to what many noisy American fundamentalist Christians say, let me quote at some length to make the point.

New Testament Teaching about the Jewish Nation

Jesus told a parable about vinedressers (the Jews) who were chosen to care for God’s vineyard but then rejected God’s servants (the prophets) and finally killed his Son and so “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”  (Matthew 21, Mark 12, Luke 20)

Saint Paul saw the Jewish nation (his own people!) as a branch that is cut off, while the Gentiles have been grafted on, because the Jews as a nation rejected their Messiah. (Romans 11)

Paul wrote that the true sons of Abraham are not those who are physical heirs of Abraham but those who follow Abraham in his faith. (Galatians 3)

When, in Galatians 6:16, Paul speaks of the “Israel of God”, he is clearly talking about the Church.

Hebrews says God “has made the first [covenant] obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away”.(Hebrews 8)

Saint Peter wrote “They stumbled in their disbelief, but [applying Old Testament images of the nation of Israel to the Church], now you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people…you are the people of God.” (I Peter 2)

Jesus predicted that the nation of Israel would be destroyed (as it was by the Romans 40 years later, and the Jews were scattered): “They will not leave one stone upon another” – and why? “Because you did not know the time of your visitation”. (Luke 19)

Is there still a promised land? Yes, but not in the Middle East or anywhere on earth. Jesus said to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18)

These are a few of the New Testament passages that make it clear that the Church is now the new Israel. As I said, you will hear a very different view on this from some American fundamentalists, based on their misuse of certain Old Testament prophecies. We Orthodox see the New Testament as unequivocal and consistent: when the Jews rejected their Messiah, the Church succeeded them as God’s Chosen People

What should now be our attitude towards the Jews?

The same as if our mothers and fathers, once faithful, had gone astray in some way – with sadness, with gratitude, with love, with hope. The same as towards all people: Christ commanded us to love everyone. The Jews are our fellow human beings, made
in the image of God. There is no room for “anti-Semitism”. Remember that the blessed Theotokos, Saint Joseph, John the Forerunner, the 12 Apostles all were Jews. So was our Lord Jesus Christ! At first Jews persecuted Christians. Then Christians came to power and have often persecuted Jews, claiming they were Christ-killers. That’s absurd. A few Jewish rulers 2000 years ago arranged the death of Christ. Most Jews have followed them, as most people follow their leaders. But Jews in general, even at the time of Jesus’ death, did not kill Jesus. In our treatment of Jews, we Christians have a lot to be ashamed of. Despite this, through history Jews have shown an admirable ability to survive and prosper, often with a sardonic humor under very difficult circumstances. They have been a bright, resourceful, remarkable people. They still are. Try to imagine American theater and music and art without them. Irving Berlin: “God Bless America”, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. We must honor them for all that. They have also become a major influence in American media and government.

The Holocaust and Modern Israel

Now to modern times, and I’m afraid we must dabble in politics here. (I hate to tell you this, brothers and sisters, but all politics, both good and bad, has its origins in theology, both good and bad, whether Trinitarisn or theistic or atheistic.)

A few people say the Holocaust never happened. It did. Or that Hitler didn’t kill 6 million Jews, only 2 million. “Only 2 million”?! The Holocaust was a catastrophe for the Jews. There had long been some Jews in Palestine, as well as a Zionist movement to restore the Jews to their previous homeland. In 1917 in the Balfour Declaration, the British government (as part of continual western colonialist reshaping of the Middle East) first signaled their intent to create a Jewish state in Palestine. This now came to fulfilment. After World War II the western powers out of sympathy and guilt – since Germany was one of us, part of traditional western Christendom – gave the Jews a homeland. Many American fundamentalists, again misusing Old Testament prophecies, have long said that the Jews still have a right to the Holy Land. So now bad theology made bad politics. In 1947 the United States took the lead in partitioning Palestine, giving part of that land to the Jews as the new nation of Israel, and millions of Jews mostly from Europe poured in. Surely we can understand their desire for a secure homeland.

Israel and the Palestinians

Before we were Orthodox my wife, an ardent reader, discovered the truth about this. When she told me, I was amazed. I said “This isn’t what I hear on television.” Indeed it was not. Since then I’ve heard even more from Palestinian members of our Antiochian Archdiocese and our Saint Nicholas, Cedarburg.

The problem is there were already people living in Palestine: the Palestinians, a large minority of whom were then Christians. You will hear some Jews and non-Jews say that Palestine was an empty land, with only a few Arab bedouins in it. That is a lie.  Many were highly educated people: engineers, doctors, lawyers, authors. Over the next decades, more than 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and lands. The nation of Israel was built on the backs of the Palestinian people. Palestinians call this their “Catastrophe”. Official Israeli statistics say that 531 Palestinian villages with their churches and mosques were destroyed. Most Palestinians fled to nearby countries which couldn’t or wouldn’t cope with so many. Some came to the United States which for the most part welcomed them. Thank God.

Today, 70 years later, about 1/3 of Palestinians from their old country still live in refugee camps. The remainder of Palestine is occupied or controlled by Israel. The situation of the Palestinians is similar to that of native Americans in the United States who were once confined to “Indian reservations”. Israeli settlements continue to expand illegally into Palestinian territory on the West Bank of the Jordan. They take the best lands and most of the water. They drive people out of their homes and villages and cut down their ancient olive groves. By now Israel has taken over most of Palestine. Above you can see how much of Palestine has been lost to Israel since 1947. It should be added that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, one of the largest landholders in Israel and the West Bank, continues to sell land to Israeli interests – usually in secret to avoid an uproar among their Orthodox Palestinian members. (See https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/12/02/565464499/greek-orthodox-church-sells-land-in-israel-worrying-both-israelis-and-palestinia) One would think that the Israelis who had their own catastrophe would not impose this catastrophe on others, that those who knew oppression would not become oppressors. Sadly such is not the case.

In recent times, because of Palestinian Muslim terrorists (I think none of them have been Christians), one can understand why Israelis have erected a wall to protect their people, but this has made life almost impossible for ordinary innocent West Bank Palestinians. When they try to travel, the wall around the illegal settlements (which now have spread deep into Palestinian territory) makes travel extraordinarily difficult for Palestinians. Trips which once took minutes now take hours, getting through checkpoints and often hostile Israeli guards. The other result is that most Palestinians and Jews now are separated and rarely are acquainted, and you know how that causes negative ideas about each other to grow worse. Also, one can understand why Israel (a small nation surrounded by Arab nations many times their size) feels so threatened that they have obtained a large stockpile of nuclear weapons – an open secret which is never admitted. But this causes other Middle Eastern nations to want them too.

Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land

To understand the present situation we need to go back in history: As Christ had predicted Jews were driven out of Palestine about A.D. 70, but still remained a significant minority in the Roman Empire. Under the Byzantine Empire Christians were dominant in the Middle East, but Jews also returned to Palestine. To the left: The Anastasis (Church of the Resurrection) in Jerusalem  Christians were diminished after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, but even at the time of the Crusades Christians were still the majority in Jerusalem. Never again. The Crusaders killed everyone who looked “Muslim” – Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. When the Muslims regained control, there was less tolerance for Christians for fear they would be allied with the west, but still we remained a strong minority. When the Turks conquered the Middle East, they encouraged evangelism by western denominations, in order to divide the remaining Christians. By the 1920s Christians still numbered perhaps as much as 15% of the population of Palestine. By now most Christians, caught between Muslims and Jews, have fled from Israel and Palestine, and now number about 5% of what’s left of Palestine and about 2% of modern Israel. Before the establishment of Israel, the city of Ramallah was almost entirely Christian. Now it is almost entirely Muslim, and each summer Americans from Ramallah have a convention with several thousand attending.

Lord, have mercy on them. And on us too.

What is the Solution?

I have no idea. Apparently no one does. Modern American administrations pretend to solve the problem by taking the Israeli side and then wonder why it doesn’t work. A Palestinian woman – an author of excellent Orthodox children’s books * and wife of the mayor of a Palestinian town – spoke at our Saint Nicholas in Cedarburg  and kept a stiffer upper lip during her talk. But when in private I asked her “What is the solution?” she answered sadly, “I don’t think there is one.”

Christina goes to Church and Christina Learns the Sacraments available from Amazon, Holy Cross Press, Light and Life Publications and other places

Let me plead for some understanding of both sides. I am not trying to justify either terrorism or oppression. To understand is not to approve or condone.

To those who sympathize more with the Palestinians: Try to understand Israel, a small country  surrounded mostly by hostile nations who vastly outnumber them. They were traumatized by the Holocaust and are terrified of another one happening. It will take generations for the images of their Holocaust to start to fade from the front of their minds. How might you feel if you and your family, living in land that you believe belongs to you, were under regular threat from suicide bombers or from other nations who warn that they are about to blow you off the face of the map? But none of this justifies what Israel has done and is doing to the Palestinians. Some Jews oppose present unjust Israeli government policies, but they rarely speak up for fear of being ostracized.

For any who sympathize more with Israel: If you were a Palestinian, how would you react if you and your people were (and continue to be) driven out of your homes and lands, if you have lived under foreign oppression for 70 years and lost hope because the richest, strongest nation in the world finances and almost unquestioningly supports your enemy? How would you react if disproportionate warfare was used against your people? During the last major Gaza war 13 Israelis were killed, 3 of them civilians; 1300 Palestinians were killed, about half of them civilians. Homes, schools and refugee shelters were attacked. The US Congress supported this almost unanimously. The Israelis to this day allow minimal food and medicine into Gaza, with almost no access for people to travel either in or out of that overcrowded strip of land.

Many American evangelicals actively support Israeli occupation of and expansion into Palestine. They seem to think Joshua is fighting the battle of Jericho all over again, that Israelis still have a God-given right to all of Palestine. A few, on the basis of bizarre interpretation of Old Testament prophecy, even believe that this will bring Christ’s Second Coming  – as if anything we humans do could control our Lord and God Jesus Christ! American media pay little attention to the situation, and when they do their reporting is usually pro-Israel. There are many reasons why Muslim radicalism and anti-Americanism and anti-Christian attitudes continue to grow in the Middle East – but this surely is one of the greatest of them.

To repeat, do not confuse current Israeli government policy with Old Testament Judaism which is a wonderful thing, or with individual Jews who are often admirable people – and occasionally not, which is to say they are just like the rest of us.

Today Israel and Palestine are dominated by two hostile peoples and two religions which believe in “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. As someone said, if the present situation continues both sides will be left without eyes and without teeth.

As for us, Jesus told us to conquer our enemies with love.

Next Week: a happier topic – “The Real Saint Nicholas”

12 comments:

  1. Father Bill–You’ve left out some important information. You say that the Western powers created Israel because of guilt over what the Germans have done, but neglect to mention that just about every Arab nationalist movement was enthusiastically allied to Hitler, and that there were Holocaust atrocities carried out in the Middle East and North Africa, though on much smaller scale than in Germany. There is a famous photograph of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (Yasser Arafat’s grandfather) meeting with Hitler. You also neglect to mention that in 1938, in order to placate the pro-Nazi Arab population, Britain ended Jewish immigration to the Holy Land, thereby cutting off one of the most important escape routes for European Jews. Who knows how many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent Jews, perished because of this ? The Palestinians are not the hapless victims of Western power plays–they are the descendants of Arab Nazi sympathizers. In light of this activity, and of the many other border changes and displacements that took place after WWII, it is fair and just that the Jewish people were given back their homeland at the expense of their enemies. When the Palestinian mandate was finally divided, Jordan received 83% while Israel only got 17%. Not satisfied with the lion’s share of this arrangement, Jordan , along with three other Arab countries, invaded Israel on the very day of her independence. Their armies displaced the native Arab population telling them that after their victory, they would receive the Jewish. As it happened, they lost, and instead of repatriating their displaced bretheren, they demanded “refugee status” for them, and have used the Palestinian people as a weapon against Israel ever since. This is not the fault of Israel; it is the fault of the other Arabs. Where was the outcry when, after the Gulf War, Kuwait expelled its entire Palestinian population? There are protests against Israel, where Palestinians can be citizens and even sit in the Knesset, but never against Lebanon and Syria, where the Palestinians are little better than slaves, or against the majority of Arab countries who refuse to allow Palestinians to become citizens. You also, of course, ignore the almost daily terrorist attacks and rocket launches into Israel.

    Israel is a tiny country, about the size and population of New Jersey. It is surrounded by hundreds of millions of hostile people. A demand that Israel not attack “disproportionately,is a demand that Israel submit to slow genocide. The problem with your article is not a lack of political correctness, it is a lack of truth.

    1. I suspected this article would get some comments! 4 points: 1) I know some Arab leaders cooperated with the Nazis, because they shared common enemies: not so much the Jews who were then a small minority in the Middle East and they assumed they would remain so. The common enemy was western colonialists. We did the same, cooperating with the Soviet Union because we shared a common enemy, Germany. After the war we all made up for it. 2) Yes, as I mentioned briefly, some neighboring Arab countries refused to accept Palestinian refugees. Others did not integrate them into their population – or could not, like Lebanon because of the many factions that already existed there. Imagine if the United States suddenly had (proportionally) 100 million refugees to deal with. Jordan, on the other hand, accepted the highest proportion of refugees and was fairly welcoming according to the Palestinians I’ve talked to who came to America via Jordan. 3) When Israel was established, the Arab countries saw it (and still see it) as another case of western colonialism, in this case with Jews being imported from Europe by the design of America and Britain. The 1948 war was against colonialism. 4) Yes, that Israel is a democracy and that Palestinians can sit in the Knesset is admirable. The Palestinians also have popular vote, as much as possible. And then Gaza elected Hamas – though one can see why. 5) The questions remain: Does the New Testament teach that Israel is still the “Jewish homeland”? Have the Palestinians been treated justly? Has there been any attempt to recompense them for the property that was stolen from them?

  2. Did you mention,Father,that Palestine was a British Mandate after the First World War. There was a French Mandate.too. The British also had a position in Egypt before the First World War under the Turkish Khedive
    When Turkey was still an Imperial Power in the Eastern parts of Europe and Mediterranean. I expect this part is left out of U S school history books. They had an anti imperialist agenda in the mid Twentieth Century.
    Turkey had a remnant still of the old cruel Ottoman Empire and was an Ally of Kaiser Wilhem II until Kemal Ataturk in the nineteen twenties

  3. Father–
    You say that Palestine was not a backward desert, which is true if you are talking about the period leading up to WWII. However, it is well documented that this was true in 19th century, and that the Ottoman sultans encouraged immigration both from other parts of their Empire, and also Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. So while there was always an indigenous Jewish population, and an Arab population that had arrived in the 7th century, the majority of BOTH people in the territories came from waves of immigration less than 100 years before. There were, indeed, more Arabs than Jews, which is why the Arabs were given 83% of the land. Jordan expelled all the Jews, some of whom were indigenous, from the country, and until recently, no Jew was allowed to set foot in Jordan.

    Think of all of the enforced moves of population after WWII –the separation of India and Pakistan, the border shifts that Stalin demanded in Eastern Europe, the forced expulsion of ethnic Germans (many of whom were peaceful Anabaptists) from Russia. Next to these events, the fate of the Palestinians, who had the choice of moving a relatively short distance to a place where their own people lived, seems fairly benign.

    If you’re looking for villains, you might start with the British, who bungled the division, and the intransigence of the Arabs, who having been given the lion’s share of the contested territory, continued to demand the tiny sliver of land that had been granted to the Jews. By the way, over 50% of the Jewish population of Israel is Mizrahi, which is to say of Jewish descent. They are the descendants of the indigenous Jewish population, and of the ancient Jewish communities elsewhere in the Middle East. Some of them came to flee rising Arab anti-Semitism in the 1920’s, some come from the 800,000 Jews who in 1950 were forcibly expelled from their historic communities in cities like Cairo, Alexandria and Damascus.

    From 1949-1967, Jordan had complete control over what is now the PLA. Jordanians are ethnically identical to Palestinians–in fact, the first mention of a Palestinian nation occurs in the 1960s. Yet for sixteen years, Jordan did nothing to either incorporate these lands into their own country, or help set up a separate Palestinian state. Instead, they condemned them to permanent refugee status. Why do you blame Israel instead of Jordan?

    You talk about American support of Israel increasing tensions, but neglect to mention that for decades, Palestinian leadership has fed their people the filthiest kind of anti-Semitic propaganda–a revised version of the blood libel, televisions series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, you name it. In fact, the Hamas charter cites the Protocols, and also blames Jews for the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks, and both World Wars. I truly feel sorry for people who have been force-fed this poisonous diet for years, whose leadership uses lies to whip them up to such a fever pitch that they strap bombs on their own children. I have not yet thought of an excuse for an educated Westerner who fails to include it in his narrative.

    In answer to your questions, the New Testament does not promise Jews the Holy Land, but history backs up their historic claim. The New Testament does assure us that “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.” (Rom.11:2). And it adds “So do not become proud, but stand in awe..For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.” (Rom. 11: 20-24).

    You say that most Christians have fled from both Palestine and Israel. Where is your evidence that Christians are fleeing Israel? Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is increasing, because it is the only country in the Middle East that provides a safe haven for Christians.

    You ask if the Palestinians have been trusted justly, and of course they have not, but their displacement from Israel during the 1948 war may be the least of the injustices done to them. What is worse is that they have been made pawns in the hands of the other Arab nations, who do nothing to relieve them. Their own government is corrupt, and spends aid money on weaponry. They have been propagandized to hate, rather than find a peaceful settlement with Israel, which would be happy to offer them one.

    If justice were done on your terms, if all the land in Israel were turned over to the Palestinians, would you worry at all about justice to Jewish citizens of Israel, most of whom have also been persecuted, and displaced from other countries? With anti-Semitism on the rise all over the world, do you really want to deprive the Jewish people of their last refuge? Even in the United States, which has been a wonderful haven for Jews, Jews are regularly the targets of more than half the religious hate crimes committed in the US.

  4. This is a tough subject. I see Father Bill’s both sides and perspectives and Barbara I can see yours too from the human perspective of a people having lost their homeland 2000 years ago and settling elsewhere in all manner of conditions. I sometimes wondered and think, 2000 years is a long time for a people not to integrate and always rub against the Catholic Church and people. From Fr. Bill’s writing I can see there has always been a parallel rivalry over the Centuries going on as to who are the chosen. It is the main reason why Jews have had it so hard where ever they went imho (and I don’t know much) Europe imho was just another conquered region by Rome as was the middle East. I often wondered why is Europe blamed for all the anti-Semitism, when Rome brought this spirit of conquest and forced conversions, and also later used force conversations, or coercion later in Spain , the inquisitions, gee even here in the US the Indians etc. Maybe we still have a lot to learn. This bloody spirit exists and cycles. If I get one thing out of all that I sometimes observe, read and learn and value about any Religion, Judaism and Christianity the nearest to me, is that we have to learn to forgive. It required the Life of Jesus who had done nothing, but was a threat to the establishment of his time. I think, and it is so painful to think about it for me, that it will require the same again today. The Politics in the middle east are horrifying and Religion will bring it to an end the way it looks and with it all of Europe and western civilization. I ask myself were all the life’s lost thru wars religious or otherwise like the Holocaust, maybe billions by then, worth this little piece of Land for the Jews. Or would it not have been better to fight for freedom of Religion where ever you are in a civilized manner, honoring Life, (the life of all people) God and is Holiness etc. I can only wish You and Everyone PEACE ON EARTH. Blessings!

    1. Maria W — a few quick (and I hope non-controversial, points). I don’t know where you got the idea that billions of lives have been lost in order to secure Israel for the Jews. Even in WWII, persecution of the Jews was at best a side issue— no Allied forces did anything to attack the camps or stop the trains going there, until the very end of the war, when the camps were finally liberated. As for your other point, about fighting for religious freedom, consider that in the late 19th and early 20th century, Germany was a very good, safe place for Jews to live. The German-Jewish population was small (about 300,000 when Hitler came to power) , and mostly assimilated. Germany was a civilized cultured place where Jews had played an active role in society for over 100 years–yet Hitler was able to change that in a frighteningly short time.

    2. Thanks to both of you for your contributions. Who the Holy Land belongs to can obviously be argued in both ways. However, this cannot be argued: Today there are over 4 million Palestinian refugees, none of whom have been compensated in any way for their loss of homes and property, while Israeli settlements continue to expand illegally into Palestine. If Israel truly “wants peace”, how about starting here?

      1. Father—Surely you know the answer to this question. In 2005, Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip. Since then, that territory has been used to launch rocket attacks into Israel, and to build tunnels for smuggling weapons into PLA territories — and the Palestinian government still refuses to even recognize the existence of Israel.

        In the meantime, Israeli children are taught to hope for peace with their neighbors, while Palestinian children are encouraged to become terroristic “martyrs”. Arab children are encouraged to throw stones at Jews who come to worship at the Wailing Wall. The Palestinians–indeed, all of the Arab countries insist on being Judenrein—but 30% of the children treated at Hadassah Hospital are Palestinians, and that hospital trains Palestinians to become doctors, so they can deliver better quality medical care within the PLA territories. Can you name a single thing that the Palestinian government has done in the interests of peace?

        I understand that you want help for your parishioners, and that they have stories which should be heard with compassion. But when you plead for help and understanding, is it really necessary to push a historically false narrative that aids and abets anti-Semites? Can you honestly look objectively at all the refugee stories of the 20th century, and not recognize that while some Palestinians have suffered, they have , on the whole, suffered less than many other people? My grandmother was a refugee too; her story begins with a pogrom, the murder of two uncles, the gang-rape of a younger sister, and then a nearly 600 mile walk from northern Ukraine to a refugee camp in Romania, alleviated only by a trans-Atlantic voyage which brought her to a strange country where she didn’t know the language or customs, wasn’t even familiar with the alphabet, and faced plenty of anti-Semitism for the first 50 or so years that she was in the United States. To the end of her life, she spoke wistfully of what she left behind in Russia, just as your parishioner speaks wistfully of the home she lost in Jerusalem. In the meantime, in Asia, close to 2 million died during the separation of India and Pakistan. In Europe, the ethnic Germans who had lived in Eastern Europe for centuries longer than most Palestinians lived in the Holy Land, suffered the largest single forced expulsion in history.

        How do you expect people to be sympathetic to the Palestinians, who moved only a short distance, and have always been surrounded by their own culture, when the price is that the most persecuted people in world history will have to give up their little homeland, where Jews have lived for over 3000 years? What do you propose for the more than 50% of Israelis who are Mizrachi Jews–either Indigenous to Israel, or expelled from ancient Middle Eastern communities in 1950? No one has ever proposed a “right of return” for them—or for the 2/3 of the Jewish population that lives outside Israel, and who are descendents of refugees many times over?

        Do you really think you are caring for your people, already exploited by a corrupt government, when you encourage them to cling to impossible hopes, flavored with heavy measures of false history and anti-Semitic hatred? They could, if they laid down their ancient hatreds, be living in peace with an Israel that is ready to extend all kinds of humanitarian and economic help –as it already does when it can.

  5. Barbara, the point I wanted to make was a conquered people or a people who feel they have lost their land, and believe me I know of loses and also not living in my home country, it is a sad place to be in, and for the Jews now 2000 years of not being able to let go or feel at home somewhere else, at least the many following Generation is even more disturbing. So there had to be something else that separated them from the rest, and it was their Religion, making itself felt in every cultural, in a social manner including family life. The loyalties were always with your own and the dream, like Zionism, to return to Israel. It must have come thru to all the Lands you were living in, I mean your Ancestors. The cause or the frictions where always religious in nature in separation willingly at first and then unwillingly later, in the teachings of Gentiles and Chosen Jews. That is the bottom line of past History for 2000 years, and is still today in what we see happening in the Middle East with its Evangelical support and the US, and where ever there is some form of guilt present in not having lived up to their Religious teachings or someone else’s standards, which is mostly always learned in HIND SITE, but assuming we should have known, done this or that, failures etc.. No progress can ever be made, ever, unless the cycle of violence is broken (in many forms they appear) and learn to forgive. All else which happens in between is Time and History. I had to learn this on an individual level, and until we all learn this and let go, nothing will bring us closer to PEACE. Again from someone who feels homeless in this world and had to learn to forgive, PEACE.

    1. Maria– I’m having trouble understanding some of your post, but I agree with you about the cycle of violence. My original point was that the narrative Father presented—one of “European” Jews displacing people who had lived in the Holy Land for centuries— is factually incorrect. Israel has to provide for her own security, but she also wants peace with her neighbors.

  6. I read a book entitled, “One Palestine, Complete”, years ago. The author was Black. I am having trouble finding it now. It was a neutral writing that told the history of the area, including sections of journals written byArabs of Muslim and Christian faith who lived as neighbors in Palestine. After the war the task of overseeing Palestine fell to the British. There was then a push to form a nation of Israel. Of important note was that the religious Orthodox Jews (vs ethnic, non-religious Jews) were against it, as what God took away, only He could fully restore. The immigration proceeded with quotas, often the Jews would violate the quotas. At first they brought in workers to build infrastructure. Then later, they only wanted professionals to come in. Later they demanded that only Hebrew be spoken instead of the languages that European Jews spoke which were inferior. They often discriminated against their own. Some Palestinians sold land to the Jews at the beginning. The problem in our polarized world now is that some ignorantly think there is no such thing as Palestinians, but peoples lived in Palestine before the modern Country or State of Israel was formed. And indeed, there was displacement of people who had lived there for centuries. It is historical that Jew of the Diaspora were brought in after the war to settle. Not sure why some insist that is not true. Some people, especially some Evangelicals, believe that they must help Israel in order for the prophecies of Revelation to occur for Christ’s return. As if God is impotent to bring about the events of the end of the age. Israel is not perfect, they are not guiltless any more than the other side. And they have indeed seized more land. While Israel may have a right to exist and protect itself, it engages in actions that do not help the situation either. Two wrongs do not make a right. May God have mercy on us all.

  7. Good article Father.

    Most Christians in America need to know that there are two sides to this story. My only question is this: Given than Israel is the biggest (by far) economic and military power in the region, why does the US Govt ($20 TRILLION in debt) need to send Israel $10 Million every time the sun rises?

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