Why DID We Go to Israel?
Vol: 119 Issue: 31 Wednesday, August 31, 2011
When one goes ‘up to Jerusalem’ today it is via a modern four lane highway. Twenty years ago, the only way to go up to Jerusalem from the Dead Sea was via the old Jericho Road, which was a lot like travelling by bus on one-lane driveway – in the mountains!
When one met another bus going down to the Dead Sea, the two busses would have to pass so close to one another that they often knocked each other’s mirrors off.
I thought about that as our bus whined along on its way up from 1300 feet below sea level to 2600 feet above sea level, a climb of 3900 feet in less than twenty miles. It is amazing how much things have changed in just two decades.
At various places along the way, one can see small cities on some of the surrounding mountain tops.
These are the so-called “settlements” that have the governments of the world in such a tizzy. If one looks at the settlements, built atop barren mountains, surrounded by more barren mountains inhabited and inhabitable only by Bedouin nomads, one can immediately grasp the crux of the problem.
It isn’t that the settlements are inconvenient to Palestinian travel, or that they are taking up valuable land that the Palestinians could be using for something else. Where they are located, one would have to be headed TO one of them in order to find oneself anywhere near one.
Clearly, it isn’t the settlements’ aesthetics that are objectionable; if one could magically transport them to the hills around Los Angeles, they were be indistinguishable from the rest of the gated communities nestled there.
The objection isn’t to the settlements – the objection is that there are Jews living there. The world is demanding a Jew-free Palestinian state existing side-by-side with an ethnically diverse Israel.
Let’s think about that for a moment. The Palestinian Authority demands the complete removal of all Jews from what was traditionally Jewish land – and the current United States government has no apparent problem with that.
For many Jews, this sounds exactly like it sounds to me – like ethnic cleansing. “Ethnic cleansing” is defined as;
“a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove, by violent and terror-inspiring means, the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”
Ethnic cleansing, say the experts, isn’t exactly the same as genocide, since genocide is the “intentional murder of part or all of a particular ethnic, religious or national group.” Instead, ethnic cleansing refers to the forced deportation or ‘population transfer’.
A few historical examples of ethnic cleansing include, according to Wikipedia, the expulsion of Jews from England by King Edward I in 1290.
In 1492, Spain expelled all Jews from its territory unless they agreed to forced conversion to Catholicism.
Of course, the most famous example of ethnic cleansing in modern times was the expulsion of Jews from Germany, Austria and other areas under Nazi control, until the Nazis switched from a policy of ethnic cleansing to one of genocide.
The Wikipedia entry attempts to characterize the flight of Palestinian Arabs from their ancestral homes during the 1948 War of Independence as “ethnic cleansing” but in so doing, ignores an important element necessary to the charge – force.
The Arabs that fled the Jewish State were not forced to leave by the Jews – they were forced to leave by the Arabs.
The proof is in the pudding. Those as-yet undefined Arab “Palestinians” that stayed and refused to fight against the Jewish State are today full Israeli citizens.
Those that fled to the Arab world, expecting to expropriate Jewish lands after the Jews were annihilated, were promptly interned in refugee camps, by the Arabs where many still languish to this day, some sixty-three years after the fact.
Also ignored by history was the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands in the years between 1948 and 1967.
I found it fascinating that, while the Wikipedia entry includes the forced expulsion of a million Jews from the Arab world during this period, Wikipedia qualifies this as a “mass Jewish exodus” instead of an ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Jews.
Wikipedia couldn’t bring itself to call that ethnic cleansing. Neither could it call the forced expulsion of 8500 Jews from Gaza ‘ethnic cleansing’ although the only reason for their expulsion was to render Gaza a “Jew-free” zone.
The forcible removal of Jews from Gaza was redefined as an “evacuation”; the resettling of some displaced in existing settlements in the West Back, well, that qualifies, according to the entry, as the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank.”
There are approximately one and a half million Israeli Arabs, constituting about 20% of the Israeli population. These Israelis vote in Israeli elections and are represented in the Israeli parliament by Israeli-Arab politicians elected by Israeli Arabs.
Jews living in settlements located outside the 1948 borders of Israel are an ethnic and religious group living under a purposeful policy designed by another ethnic and religious group which is aimed at forcing the removal of the civilian Israeli population by violent and terror-inspiring means from certain geographic areas.
And this policy has the unqualified support of the current government of the United States.
From where we sit, it should be obvious to the ordinary Israeli that the average American does not support the policy of ethnically cleansing Jews from anywhere.
No American would stand for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Brooklyn, let alone the mountains of Israel.
Until the middle of the 1980’s the majority of Israeli Jews were of Western or American extraction. They knew us and we knew them and there was never any question of solidarity.
But an entirely new generation of Jews, émigrés from the former Soviet Union, eastern Europe, members of formerly lost tribes in Ethiopia, China, India and elsewhere, know only of America what they witness of America and of Americans.
Most of them are themselves victims of various ethnic cleansing efforts or persecution in their former homelands, tormented principally by those calling themselves “Christians.”
THAT is the image that those of us who attended the Glenn Beck events in Israel came with the intention to dispel.
And in that effort, I would say we accomplished what we came for.
This is not the column I had intended to write for this morning’s report. I tried, but I kept coming back to the same place, so I suppose I had better stay with it or I’ll never get it finished.
The reaction to my column on Monday about LDS involvement in the Glenn Beck tour was totally unexpected for a couple of reasons.
First, it was written as a private report to subscribers to the Omega Letter Daily Intelligence Briefing, rather than being posted on the OL’s main page for public viewing. I never really intended it for mass distribution outside the OL family.
And second, I never expected so many people to react by saying, “What did you expect?”
That seemed to be the central theme during the radio interview I had with Brannon Howse yesterday on his live radio program — what did I expect? He seemed surprised that I hadn’t read all of Glenn Beck’s books. Maybe I should have.
I suppose I was naïve to not to have expected the tour to be an LDS front, but I no more expected a LDS religious tour instead of a political rally than I would have if the headliner had been Rush Limbaugh.
I went because I felt a strong leading from the Lord that He wanted me to go. I could tell it was the Lord leading because I didn’t want to go. I was relieved that the trip was so expensive, because that way I had a good reason for not going – because my real reasons were so lame.
I really, really don’t like to fly. I can’t sleep on an airplane. I’ve been to Israel before. I am not crazy about hot weather and the Glenn Beck tour was scheduled during the hottest season in what is already a hot climate.
And despite all my brave talk, as I get older, I find I am less eager to risk life and limb. While I know many who say they would be honored to have the chance at martyrdom for the faith, having given it considerable thought, I admit I am a lot braver when the risk is theoretical.
But when OL members Bob and Traci Burleson invited Gayle and I to attend as their guests and at their expense, I had run out of viable excuses for ignoring the spiritual nudging to go.
I didn’t know what the Lord had for me there, but I knew that there was a reason.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
There is always a reason. That is what this verse means. It means that everything that happens to us in this life has some Godly purpose and consequently, we can trust Him to work it out for good. It is all about trust.
Another example of this principle is found in the Old Testament story of Joseph and the coat of many colors.
His brothers were jealous of him, so they sold him into slavery in Egypt, returning to their father with Joseph’s blood-stained coat and some story about how Joseph was killed by wild beasts.
Decades later, Joseph had risen to the position of co-regent of Egypt during a famine. His brothers, not knowing who he was, came to petition for a food allotment. When Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, they were understandably afraid.
“And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:19-20)
So it didn’t much matter to me what Glenn Beck’s intentions were, because God knew our intentions, and I can trust God to work all things together for good to them who are the called according to His purpose.
We went to Israel to show the Israelis that they can trust us because we are not our government. That was what Glenn Beck promised to be the focus of the tour. That was why most of us were there.
That said, we accomplished that goal everywhere our individual tour group went. I shared the story of the Israeli kids that we met in Tiberius. When we were at the Dead Sea, we mingled with ordinary Israelis and they with us.
We mingled with Israeli soldiers there to protect us from the terrorists that had just attacked near Eilat just to the south of us. We demonstrated the respect we had for them and for their country at every possible occasion.
We didn’t tell them one thing and do something else. We didn’t try to ‘educate’ them about the plight of the Palestinians. We shared with them. They shared with us.
One of our number and new OL members, Brent Van Sickle, is an amazingly gifted honky-tonk piano player. One night while we were all unwinding from that day’s tour in the hotel lounge as had become our habit by then, Brent sat down and started playing the piano.
Here is a short sampling that made it back home to the States even before we did. My daughter Kari found it on Facebook while we were still in Jerusalem.
What you can’t see is that everybody else in the hotel, including Israelis young and old, were joining in, singing, dancing, clapping and having a great time with a bunch of middle-aged American goyim without the slightest bit of self-consciousness or hesitation.
Many of them had negative opinions about Glenn Beck’s rally, but nobody doubted the sincerity of the Americans that they met there that night in the lounge of the Crown Plaza.
I wish you all could have been there to share in the blessing. It was never about Glenn Beck. It was always about Israel.
Beck did get one thing right: when it comes to Israel, we are not our government.
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
And I do hope that the Lord takes notice of that.