A Christian's Perspective on Israel-Palestine
Posted May 10, 2013 by Kamal Nawash
Pastor Howard Gardner
Bel Air Assembly of God
Friends, please understand from the start that I Have no background in either law, political science, business or economics. Please keep that in mind as you review this article and anticipate that there may be points that I make which will be highly naive and in need of correction. Still I think I may be able to present some points that may be significant. My main strengths are in the area of theology with some background in historical studies and sports medicine and, since religion plays a highly significant role in the Middle East, I think I might be able to make some valid points.
To begin with, I am supportive of Kamal Nawash's assertion that a two state plan in the Mideast has been tried and failed often enough to justify trying another approach. When I expounded upon this in an article for Charisma Magazine in 2010, a Jewish lady lacerated me over her blog site; claiming that I was "attempting to destroy Israel." Her logic was that any sort of plan that did not completely segregate Israelis from Palestinians would ultimately result in Israel's destruction since they would immediately become a minority. Her logic failed to take into account (and perhaps I did not adequately state) that Kamal's "Two-State-One-Nation plan" is based on the same concept seen in the United States Senate by which smaller states are given the same number of representatives as larger states. Such a structure has worked well here in the U. S. I am not aware of situations in which citizens of smaller states have made accusations of discrimination against them on this basis. In fact our present and former Vice-Presidents Joe Biden and Dick Cheney are from small states (Delaware and Wyoming) and former President Clinton was from the smaller state of Arkansas.
Nonetheless, one cannot overlook the fact that the woman has a legitimate concern. Hebrew history is littered with examples of their being the subject of abuse by those in greater number. They have endured slavery in Egypt, forced breeding under Assyria, exile under Babylon, humiliation and forced apostasy under Greece, captivity under Rome and near extinction under Nazi Germany. When the number of Hebrews grew, Egypt attempted to kill off all the firstborn males and the Nazi's plotted their annihilation. To any reader questioning the validity of the Holocaust, all I can say is that, after the battle of Normandy, my father was sent into the Auschwitz prison camp and exposed to the thousands of Jewish corpses burned alive in Hitler's ovens. Dad would never go into detail about the horrors he saw but did often speak with despair about the cruelty that human beings have committed against one another.
It was after speaking with this lady that I began to lay greater emphasis on this aspect in Kamal's concept of "Two-State-One-Nation." Again, bear in mind that my qualifications do not lend to total certainty in this area but I feel it is the most logical plan I have yet seen as far as relieving the concern of minority status.
HOW CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG ???
Some years back one of our Church planting teams began investigating the inner city of Baltimore to establish the prospects for planting a Church in that area. One of the first revelations that would eventually stall such a project was the realization that the people on 51st Street had a tremendous animosity and dislike for the people on 61st Street just ten blocks away. Both consisted of basically white families with similar incomes but the fact that human beings rarely associate with other human beings unless they are brought together had caused a great divide between both groups. One lived in row homes with the front steps right out in front. The other had an alley way separating every third home and a front porch but no steps. Other than this, the only major distinction between them seemed to be a favoritism toward one political party over another. Getting both groups to come together proved to be quite a task and this is likely to be the case in combining Israel and Palestine into one nation. In the case of Baltimore, the most workable solution seemed to be to get the children to come together for fun times.
In July of 2011, I was invited down to Orlando, Florida to meet with Imam Muhammad Musri; head of the Islamic Society of Central Florida (ICSF). The invitation had come about mostly because of the enthusiasm of his secretary Dianah who insisted "The two of you just have to meet!" Imam Musri and I discussed the distinctions between Islam and Christianity and I was impressed by his humility and openness. Still what impressed me the most were two things I learned about ISCF and their school:
(1) On the day prior to our meeting, a rather hot day, Randall Terry and individuals from his "Operation Rescue" movement had camped outside their Mosque carrying anti-Muslim signs. "Killer Cult", "Religion of Death", "God hates Muslims" and "All Muslims Go to Hell" were phrases seen in the parking lot of the ISCF. Inside, Imam Musri's staff asked him "what should we do?" and he responded "Well, if I were out carrying a sign on a hot day, the one thing I would want most would be something cold to drink. Let's make some lemonade." So they did. They brought a large jug of ice cold lemonade out into the parking, sampled it themselves to show that it was not poison, and then began passing it out among the hot thirsty demonstrators. Most accepted and ultimately went away in embarrassment. I applauded this action greatly, comparing their actions to Jesus telling His followers to carry the Roman soldier's bag a second mile and ultimately turn their enemy into a friend.
(2) The other thing that so greatly impressed me about Imam Musri and his operation was their school "The Leader's Preparatory School" in Orlando. The school is jointly operated by Imam Musri together with a local Pastor and Rabbi. Students and faculty are made up of one third Muslim, one third Christian and one third Jewish children and adults. At the suggestion of the Rabbi, on the first day of second grade, students are divided into groups of three - one from each faith - and given the assignment of planting a tree. The thinking is that, if later on in life, they hear someone make the statement "You just can't work together with those people", then they will remark "Oh yes you can. I planted a tree with two of them back in elementary school."
With this in mind, consider the following analogy:
Some years back a stray cat took up residence on our back porch. It had apparently been abused as it was the most vicious animal I have ever encountered. The cat would snarl and claw at you if you just got within ten feet of it. So I left food on the porch which it accepted only after I had left. Then winter came and the temperature dropped well below freezing. The cat came up to me and began to shout "meow meow meow!" Now I do not speak a fluent cat but I know enough to understand that this meant "Help me, I', freezing!" So I let it come in the house. I gave it some milk which it accepted only after I was a safe distance away. Shortly afterwards I realized that the cat I had invited in was a pregnant mother-to-be. When the kittens came, I cared for them under the suspicious eye of the mother. And the kittens warmed up to me. Children never have the hatred and suspicion ground into them that are far too frequent in adults. Then one evening I was sitting on the sofa reading with one of the kittens curled up on my lap asleep. The mother sat at a distance away observing us. Finally she began to creep slowly toward us. She put her head on my knee and looked up. The she hopped up on the sofa beside me. Now I do not know if it is physically possible for a cat to smile but I honestly thought I saw her smile. Next she laid down on my lap beside the kitten. I stroked her fur and she began to purr. Finally she went to sleep on my lap. - - - This is how I feel we can win the war on terror. We will win the children over first. Some but not all of the adults will follow but what is most important is that we win over the children since they are the next generation.
It was these two events that helped inspire a recent children's video which we have put out in the hope of reaching the next generation. We will begin a mass promotion of it beginning May 20th. It is entitled "Bob and Larry Solve the Mideast Crisis" and centers around the misadventures of Veggie Tale characters Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, Junior Asparagus and Laura the Carrot. A draft of it can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK9dnJ2HC-U . We are hopeful that the video will be translated into Arabic, Hebrew, French and other languages and that other companies will produce similar spin-offs. We hope to persuade Al Jazeer Television, Music 24, Israeli Plus International and other stations to carry it as well. Since it is focused on children, the video is full of slapstick humor to hold their attention. Super hero Larry Boy (a take-off on Batman) sets out to unscramble an egg and to put the tooth paste back in the tube but is distracted by arch villains; the Pigeon, the Broker and the Fiddler. Meanwhile Junior and Laura are students at Imam Musri's school and given the tree-planting assignment. These events are interwoven with subtle inference about the importance of living together in peace and valuing all persons. Ultimately the Veggies seek the advice of the always wise Grandpa George who downplays the eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth concept that so many follow today and briefly describes Kamal's "Two-State-One-Nation plan.
We are hopeful that both Big Idea Productions and their parent company Classic Media will consent to upgrading the computer graphics and voice-overs. Currently Big Idea has expressed a willingness to do so but we have received no response from Classic Media.
Two songs come to mind in this regard: The first is Sandi Patti's "Love in Any Language and the second is B. J. Thomas' "Common Ground." The words to both are as follows:
LOVE IN ANY LANGUAGE: We teach the young our differences Yet look how we're the same We love to laugh, to dream our dreams We know the sting of pain .
From Leningrad to Lexington The farmer loves his land And daddies all get misty-eyed To give their daughter's hand Oh, maybe when we realize How much there is to share We'll find too much in common To pretend it isn't there Though the rhetoric of government May keep us worlds apart There's no misinterpreting The language of the heart
Love in any language, straight from the heart pulls us all together, never apart.
And once we learn to speak it, all the world will hear Love in any language, fluently spoken here
COMMON GROUND:I live down in a valley. You live on that mountain above. And although we live in different places, the common ground we share is love. If we met as total strangers and if we came from different lands and if we didn't speak the same language, Love's one thing we both would understand. Because love is our common ground
BUT RELIGION CAN SURELY DIVIDE US
It has been accurately claimed by atheist groups that religious differences have led to many destructive actions between various groups of people. Their solution is, I think, to basically throw the baby out with the bath water. Or, if you are not acquainted with that phrase, then how about the analogy of tearing down the house because a light bulb burned out? Do you see the point here? Religious faith can be either a great divider of the human race or it can be the one thing that puts meaning into the life of an individual and causes them to go out and do good for all people. So we don't want to throw it out but rather to fix in such a way as for it to accomplish the latter and not the former.
As I have already acknowledged, a purely theological (or religious) solution to the Mideast Crisis can never be successful. Such a plan would result in some sort of theocratic government; of which there are some currently in the Middle East. They are for the most part intolerant dictatorships and certainly are not the model we would wish to follow. (After all, if your neighbor's house fell down, would you hire the same contractor?). Past history certainly demonstrates the insufficiency of Theocracy as well. The Inquisition and the Crusades both arose from Papal Rome and are a huge embarrassment in the history of Christianity. While every theist (and I know that term does not apply to all people) will agree that God can never be either wrong or unjust, it is never wise to place an individual or individuals in the position of speaking for or representing God. Such power corrupts and ultimately results in the individual plagiarizing God and making self-serving proclamations that misrepresent Him. I should also note that certain Mideast nations have opted for the implementation of Sharia Law in governing. This I believe is equally unwise. For a more thorough evaluation of Sharia Law, see my article at http://openlettertoday.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/redda-and-sharia-law/
Nonetheless, religion (be it Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.) plays a vital role in the lives of many or even most of those involved in the Mideast situation. With that in mind, let me make several points and suggestions concerning characteristics and often misunderstandings of the three Abrahamic religions which I think would better help arrive at a satisfactory solution:
THE EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH CONCEPT
One of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East has been the reaction of militants who feel they are obeying the law of God as set forth in Exodus 21, the so-called "Eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth" law or the 'Law of Retaliation' - that is, " you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." This principle has been the determining factor in how one side will respond to the attacks of another. If they blow up one of our aircraft carriers then we blow up on of their aircraft carriers. The problem with this concept is threefold: (1) it fails to present any sort of peace initiative. Instead it simply provokes the other side to respond with similar violence in an unending cycle. (2) The passage is simply a quote from the ancient law code of the pagan king Hammurabi and has no relation to scriptural instruction. (3) It is a total misunderstanding of the passage in Exodus 21. In context the Hebrew people were traveling through the wilderness in lands already governed by secular law codes. What they are basically being told here is that, while you are on the other guy's property, you will be expected to abide by his laws. We still follow this principle today. The reader may in fact recall that back in the 90's a young American boy was arrested in Singapore for breaking car windows. He was tried in court and sentenced to be cained six times with a martial arts weapon. The young boy responded to the judge "Your honor, you can't have me cained. You see, I am an American and in America that is considered cruel and unusual punishment." In effect the judge responded " "This ain't America boy." You see, that is why the eye-for-an-eye rule was given to the Hebrew people. While in Hammurabi's back yard, they would be subject to it. But the moment they entered into the Promised Land, it became irrelevant. And it should still be irrelevant today. .
BUT DON'T THE TEXTS OF SCRIPTURE CALL FOR VIOLENT ACTS?
Here is a great misunderstanding and the unfortunate reason why so many people today adhere to no religion at all. Prominent atheist groups are quick to point out that both the Bible and the Quran call for attacks upon certain groups of people. In fact both the ancient Hebrews and the followers of Muhammad were told to completely annihilate specific groups of people. There is a reasonable principle at stake here. It would be completely out of character for a just and holy God to demand the killing of "innocent" people. So let's focus on the particular problem verses:
In the Bible, Numbers 31:7 & 8, Deuteronomy 7 and I Samuel 15:3 list occasions upon which the Hebrews are given instructions on how to deal with certain corrupt tribes; namely the Midianites, the Caananites and the Amalakites. These groups not only advocated the extermination of the Jews themselves but also the murder of their own first born child as a sacrifice to the pagan god Baal. That is to say that Baal-worshippers sacrificed their own children. Indeed ancient texts speak of the Caananites placing a new born baby on a hot iron and watching it die as a form of worship to Baal. And archaeological discoveries have confirmed these atrocities as having happened. The solution that God gives to the Hebrews concerning these tribes of people is to wipe them out - kill them - remove them from the face of the earth before they can kill one more innocent child.
Now let's look at the Quran. It is here that passages such as Surah 2:193 & 216, 5:33 & 51, 8:39 & 65, 9:5 & 29 advocate attacks upon infidels. And admittedly certain Islamic terrorist groups have used these passages to justify their attacks upon Christians and Jews. However both they and those accusing the Quran of being a predominately violent book are ignorant of the historical setting in which the passages were written. History tells of heretical groups known as the Quraish and the Collyridians who existed in Asia at the time. This latter group taught that three gods existed in the heavens. In the beginning a father god was said to have impregnated a goddess named Mary and their ensuing offspring was named Jesus. Muhammad is almost certainly describing these people in Surah 5:73, 75 and 116; passages often mistakenly seen as being directed to the Christian concept of the Trinity. It is known that the Quraish practiced human sacrifice in their worship and, because the Collyridian practice of offering cakes to Mary in worship seems to have evolved from the worship of Artemis and since the latter religion was also characterized by human sacrifice, it seems likely that the Collyridians sacrificed human beings as well. With this in mind, it would have seemed quite reasonable for Muhammad to have decreed war upon them. However, by contrast, he seems to have been at peace with the Christian community.
For more detail on this, see my debate with Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney at http://openlettertoday.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/islam-according-to-robert-spencer-fact-or-fiction/
When the above facts are taken into account, does it not seem likely that the devil himself has used confusion among both groups to promote violence when we should instead be working together in harmony?
BUT DIDN'T GOD GIVE THE LAND EXCLUSIVELY TO THE HEBREW PEOPLE?
This is an interesting question because the passages of Isaiah 51 and Ezekiel 37 & 38 do seem to predict a time in which the Jewish people will be allowed to return from captivity and become the sole occupants of the Holy Land. "Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." (Isaiah 51:11). These passages however overlook four important points:
(1) The inherent Jewishness of the Palestinian people which we will deal with directly
(2) The fact that both Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 18 speak of the covenant between Israel and God as being conditional upon obedience; an obedience that obviously was not kept prior to the exile under Babylon
(3) From a Christian Perspective, the fact that Jesus, in Matthew 21:43, said that the Hebrews had again violated this covenant and that the land was to be taken away from them and given to those who will bear its fruit (note that fruit in the Bible generally refers to the 'fruit of the Spirit' which is love and produces joy, peace, patience kindness and temperance). This prophecy came to pass in 70 A. D. when Titus and the Roman legionaires overran Jerusalem and sent the Jews into exile once again.
(4) Some time back Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inferred that the 1948 approval of the Balfour Declaration and the ensuing establishment of the present governing system was actually a fulfillment of the prophecies of both Isaiah 51 and Ezekiel 37 & 38. While his words were certainly sincere and well intended, Mr.Netanyahu was actually echoing the position of pop-authors such as Hal Lindsey and John Hagee; neither of whom represent the position of the more prominent theologians. Rather the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel would seem to have been fulfilled in 445 B. C. by the proclamation of the Persian king Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 1 & 2) and have no relation to the present situation.
One of the most significant questions that comes up in the Christian community is as to whether or not Islamic people worship the same God as we do. Like Muslims, both Christians (with the exception of cultic groups such as the Mormons) and Jews are inherently monotheistic. However this simple point of agreement does not adequately address the question. The name "Allah" which Muslims frequently use in referencing God is often viewed as simply the name of an alien or mythical god such as Zeus, Apollo or Dionysius. Such is a false assumption as evidenced by the fact that Arabic translations of the Bible use the word Allah to simply mean "God." Genesis 1:1 begins "In the beginning Allah . . .", John 3:16 reads "For Allah so loved the world . . .", etc. Now it is true that the ancient Quraish tribe acknowledged the existence of a moon-god who was named Allah. This however was simply the result of the religion devolving from monotheism to polytheism over generations.
BARCLAY: "YOUR GOD IS MY DEVIL"
But this in itself does not fully answer the question. It can be argued that the best way of identifying an individual is not by a specific name but by a specific nature. For example the aforementioned Mormon cult acknowledges Jesus Christ as a historic individual but defines him as the brother of Lucifer and a spaceman from the planet Kolob. The Christian is quick to respond "That's not the Jesus of the Bible and not the One we serve" and they would be quite correct. This is a problem that transcends individual religions though. The famous theologian William Barclay once told a deviant man "Your god is my devil." Subsequently when certain individuals say something like "God told me to blow up a building full of people", it can be argued that the individual is simply using the term "God" to identify (and often justify) some evil desire from within and that this is not the true God spoken of in scripture.
It is here that I think we need a very basic description as to the true attributes of God. And this is dangerous because we approach the same errors made by the leaders of various Theocracies who have attempted to speak for God. Nonetheless, and bear in mind that I am speaking through the eyes of a Christian, I think we can view the nature of God through basic qualities outlined jointly in I John 4:8 and I Corinthians 13: The former tells us that "God is Love"; that is to say that His very nature is one of Agape or unconditional love. I Corinthians 13 then gives us a basic definition of love:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
But please don' t think that this same description of God's nature is absent in either Judaism or Islam. Within Judaism, Deuteronomy 7:7-13 speaks of God's love for the people of Israel. Isaiah 63:9 speaks of God saving saving His people due to His love for them. Often called the Hymnal of Judaism, the book of Psalms speaks over and over about the love and mercy of God. See for example Psalm 57:3, 59:10, 62:12, 86:13, 100:5 and 106:1.
Nor is it absent in Islam. Consider for example Surahs 2:195 & 222, 3:76, 134, 146. 148 & 159, 5:13, 42 & 195, 9:4, 7 & 108, 49:9, 60:8 and 61:4.
In fact human nature itself seems to have an unconditional law written on its heart; that being that love always leads us to the answers of life regardless of what the question is.
JUST WHO ARE THE JEWS?
Just who in fact the Jewish people are is quite an important question to ask. Scriptures held sacred by all three faiths emphasize that the Biblical Hebrews were descendants of the Patriarch Abraham upon whom the promise was given that he would be the father of many nations and that the Promised land would be their property:
"On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites." (Genesis 15:18-20)
Then Allah said to the Israelites: 'Dwell in this land [the Land of Israel]. When the promise of the hereafter [End of Days] comes to be fulfilled, Allah shall assemble you all together in the Land of Israel." (Surah 17:101)
Question has been asked though as to whether or not the people comprising the current nation of Israel are in fact the Hebrews of scripture.
It has been asserted that the modern day nation of Israel consists not of descendants of the Biblical Hebrews but rather of the ancient Turkish people known as the Khazars. While the vast majority of Khazars did indeed opt for conversion to Judaism, recent DNA testing indicates that no more than 12% of the present-day
Israelis bear any genealogical relation to the Khazars. A 2005 study concluded that "if the R-M17 chromosomes in Ashkenazi Jews do indeed represent the vestiges of the mysterious Khazars then, according to our data, this contribution was limited to either a single founder or a few closely related men, and does not exceed 12% of the present-day Ashkenazim (Nebel, Filon, Brinkmann, Majumber, Faerman & Oppenheim The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East; "The American Journal of Human Genetics 2001, volume 69, #5 pp. 1095-1112. See also Nebel, Filon, Faerman, Soodyall & Oppenheim Y Chromosome For a Founder Effect in Ashkenazi Jews "European Journal of Human Genetics 2005 #13, pp. 388-391).
So, since it is quite hard to argue with DNA evidence (present day crime labs assert that DNA evidence either pardoning or implicating criminal suspects is of greater than 99.99 % accuracy), it should be logical to presume that the vast majority of present day Israelis are in fact descendants of Abraham; the very one to whom the promise was given.
JUST WHO ARE THE PALESTINIANS?
This is an equally important question. Who are these people who are called Palestinians? Are they themselves descendants of Abraham or just opportunists who came into the land when it became available? Well here again the science of DNA seems to provide us with an answer and it is a shocking one to many people throughout the Mideast; including many Palestinians and Israelis themselves.
An Israeli scientist, Tzvi MiSinai, has examined the DNA evidence and concluded that present day Palestinians are actually Jewish themselves. Again, this is news that has not been readily accepted by either side. Those maintaining that the land belongs exclusively to Israel are quite repulsed by the implication that the Palestinians might be their own blood relatives and thus equally entitled to live in the land. And the Jerusalem Post has printed an extensive number of editorials in opposition to Tzvi. And in addition, many Palestinians find it objectionable and even a bit scary that they might be of Jewish ancestry. The reason for this is that, since the Oslo period, anti-Semitism has become very widespread. Slurs like "Jews are the sons of pigs and monkeys, are colonialist invaders, or are trying to harm the Palestinians through poisoned wells, specially-bred rats or aphrodisiacal chewing gum" are regularly featured in public discourse. Calls for genocide are distressingly common, as in a recent hadith entitled the Hamas Charter which states "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
So there is opposition coming from both sides. But again, DNA evidence is quite difficult to argue with.
But how could Palestinians possibly be of Jewish ancestry? I believe I know the answer. There is a specific portion of ancient Israel that history seems to have lost track of; that being the Jewish Christians described as being quite numerous in the Book of Acts and the epistles of Paul. Whatever became of these converts? Again, I believe I know the answer.
In the first century AD, there was a great anticipation in the Jewish community regarding the promised Messiah of scripture Who it was hoped would deliver them from Roman rule. However there was also controversy among the Jewish community as to just what sort of Messiah to expect . Many, particularly from within the Zionist movement, wanted an all out war with Rome and an ultimate declaration of independence. So they rallied behind would-be messiahs such as Barabbas. Others felt that such a war could not be won and the teachings of Jesus about turning an enemy into a friend had great appeal. This latter group would eventually combine with many from the Gentile community to comprise the Christian Church. With Jesus now departed, they would select James, a disciple of Jesus to head the new assembly. Herod Agrippa I, who had been given authority to approve any new High priest of Judaism, responded by having James beheaded. This gave added incentive to those seeking a military messiah and the rift continued into the second century. By 135, an Emperor by the name of Hadrian had ascended to the Roman throne. Seeing that he was a rather likeable sort of of fellow, the Jews requested that Hadrian give them permission to reinhabit the land. He responded favorably but insisted that they would have to share the land with the Philistines; a giant warrior race that had since inhabited the land. Hadrian even offered to have his own priests of Jupiter rebuild the Temple and dedicate it. Having pagans rebuild the temple was acceptable to none of the Jews and sharing the land with the Philistines was repugnant to the Zionist fraction of Israel. So Hadrian offered to build a duplicate of Jerusalem in a portion of Ethiopia which he now controlled. Apparently a small segment of Jews accepted this offer as DNA tests indicate that a bedouin tribe in Ethiopia with Jewish cultural practices is indeed of Jewish descent. But it was not acceptable to the majority of those in Judea.
Finally in 135 AD, the Zionists felt they had located a messiah who would be more to their liking. A leader by the name of bar Khoba promised an all out war with Rome and eventual independence from both Rome and the Philistines. However the Jewish Christians still regarded Jesus as their Messiah and anticipated His ultimate return. Not wanting to be a part of any movement declaring bar Khoba as Messiah, they apparently departed to both Jordan and Morocco. It was at this point that Hadrian became incensed. He ordered an all out attack on the Zionists. As had been feared, the Romans were too heavily armored and proved victorious. Bar Khoba was killed as were his two sons. And Hadrian declared the land to be the exclusive property of Philistia. He renamed the land "Palestine"; which means "land of the Philistines." All stayed this way until 1270 when the Mamluk Sultan Baybars lost patience with the warrior race of Philistines and had them wiped out. They do not exist as a people anymore (a fulfillment of Jeremiah 47:2-5 and Zephaniah 2:5).
With the Philistines out of the way and the Zionists still banned from the land, descendants of the Jewish Christians apparently decided to migrate from Jordan and Morocco back into Jerusalem. Since the land was still known as Palestine, these new settlers became known not as Jewish Christians but a Palestinians. However by now the horrors of the crusades, orchestrated by Papal Rome and people like Godfrey and Raymond of Touslouse, had left many of them convinced that the cross was a symbol of evil. This same feeling was shared by the Muslim community as a whole (Raymond had made a practice of apprehending Muslim families, having them bound hands and feet and then burning their homes to the ground with them trapped inside; all of this in the shadow of a large crucifix.). If there was a crucifix in the sky, it meant ensuing danger. And again, the cross became a symbol of evil. I would personally maintain that it was at this point that Surah 4:157 in the Quran was reinterpreted to imply that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus had never occurred but rather had simply appeared as such. The verse reads "And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him - they were made to think that they did . . . for certain they never killed him." Arabic linguists have informed us that the verse is actually a paraphrase of Jesus' statement "You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above" (John 19:11) but was likely reinterpreted after the horrors of the crusades. Regardless, apparently a large number of these descendants of Jewish Christians converted to Islam as a result.
Now, as noted, it seems highly unlikely that the present generation of Palestinians or Israelis will accept the DNA findings and accept the apparent Jewishness of the Palestinians. In the United States, even after a Civil War and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, it took a generation or two before the black man was considered human. Efforts such as the Jim Crow Laws were initiated in order to restrict blacks from voting. And "whites only" signs were placed on restaurants and even restrooms. As late as 1951, when Jackie Robinson became the first black to play major league baseball, one of his own teammates remarked "I really don't think negros should be considered human."
One thing that will help in speeding up this process would be certain forms of job incentives being given to employers. At present a great many Israeli companies opt to hire European workers for positions which could easily be filled by Palestinians. Thus the unemployment rate among Palestinians is unduly high. Job incentives would not only relive this problem but also help to lessen tensions between both parties. Having an occupation ultimately results in an individual having a higher sense of self-esteem and a more patriotic loyalty to the nation itself. Now please do not confuse the term "self-esteem" with "pride." Self-esteem says "I may make mistakes but am trying hard and doing my best. Therefore I deserve your respect and support." Pride, on the other hand, says "I am better than you are." Pride is always self-serving and results in a "what's in it for me?" attitude. Self-esteem results in one having enough confidence to support and build up the other individual. The individual with self-esteem will be far more likely to both support and defend a nation to which he or she owes their livelihood and to demonstrate the aforementioned fruit of the spirit in every day life..
One other aspect that we would recommend being initiated into the new Israel/Palestinian government would be to avoid a mistake in wording made by our forefathers here in the United States. That being the phrase in our Constitution that "All MEN are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable right; among them life liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This statement echoed sentiments from the former Magna Carta document. However the term "All men"; while it's intended purpose was "ALL mankind" was later taken to infer some sort of racial or gender inferiority among slaves, women and unborn children. Indeed one court judge proclaimed that the black slave Dred Scott was only 3/5 of a human being. Also as a result women were initially denied voting rights and often found themselves in the position of performing the same work task with identical tenure to men while at the same time receiving lower wages. Further, an unborn child was deemed "only a potential human being" with no such right to even life itself. Thankfully our Constitution allows for amendments to be made and people such as Abraham Lincoln and Susan B. Anthony were able to make such strides as to insure equal rights upon woman and to deem slavery illegal. Presently the unborn child still has no legal status regarding life however informed consent bills have been enacted in 22 states and women, upon viewing their sonograms, are electing in mass numbers to forego an abortion.
In time, we would hope that things such as the "Bob & Larry" project and Imam Musri's Leader's Preparatory School will change all of that. But for the present, it would seem that the Nawash plan of two states combined into one nation with all having equality and equal representation regardless of population size would seem to be the most and perhaps the only workable solution to bring peace to the Mideast. Since we are far removed from the present situation - Bel Air Assembly of God is two continents and an ocean apart from Israel/Palestine - there are areas in our proposal which are likely to be justifiably regarded as naive. From our perspective though, the Nawash Plan would seem to be the best way to proceed forward.