Welcome to week 6 of our study, Looking for the Blessed Hope! We’re cruising through Bible prophecy and our ship has gradually changed course from prophecies past to those yet to come. In current news, we often hear of the Palestinian problem and terrorism, so that’s where our ship is headed this week. Today we will focus on the Palestinian problem, then we will devote the remainder of the week to the issue of terrorism.
We’re touring very interesting destinations this week, so let’s get started!
We hear about them on the news all the time, but just who are the Palestinians? You may be surprised to find out that “Palestine” was originally a secular term for the land of Israel (Eretz Yisra’el) or the Holy Land (Terra Sancta). The Roman emperor Hadrian renamed Israel “Palestine” as punishment for the Second Jewish Revolt (135 AD). It is widely believed that the word “Palestine” actually refers to the ancient archenemy of Israel, the Philistines. Thus, Hadrian intended to wipe all evidence of Israel away by projecting the name of Israel’s enemy on to the land of the Jews.
The concept of “Palestine” was abhorrent to Arabs, and the term was never used by Muslims or Arabs during Islamic dominance (638 – 1918 AD). In fact a well-respected Arab historian, Philip Hitti, stated “There is no such thing as Palestine in Arab history, absolutely not!” Rivalry over the term did not occur until the British issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, referencing Palestine as the place in which to establish the national homeland for the Jews. Now, suddenly, the Arabs took interest!
By the 1960’s, Arabs fully embraced and took ownership of the terms “Palestine” and “Palestinian.” 1963 saw the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), though there were no references to Arab nationalist goals and absolutely no reference to “Palestine” in any foundational documents. In fact, during the 1970’s two Arab leaders made these statements:
“Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.” – Jordan’s King Hussein
“What you call Jordan is actually Palestine.” – PLO founder Yasser Arafat
(Note: According to Arab leaders, Palestine was not Israel…it was Jordan! Yet today, Palestinians insist that Israel is Palestinian territory.)
The goal of the PLO was replacement of the Jewish state with an Arab state. So, in summary:
- The term “Palestine” was applied by Roman emperor Hadrian to Israel as punishment. (It had nothing to do with Arabs.)
- The term, once detestable to Arabs, began to be embraced by them once it was determined that “Palestine” would become the Jewish homeland.
- The PLO was established to erase the Jewish state and replace it with an Arab state.
- The Arabs themselves related the term “Palestine” to Jordan and referenced Arabs, therefore identifying themselves as Palestinians…then projected it back to the land of Israel. Thus, staking claim to Israel.
Today, Palestinians are generally defined as Arabs living in Israel. They claim to be descendants of ancient natives such as the Philistines, Canaanites and Jebusites. But those claims are contrary to archaeological, historical and Biblical evidence:
- The Philistines were actually sea-faring people from the island of Crete…not Arabs.
- 2 Chronicles 17:11 makes a distinction between Philistines and Arabs. They are not the same people group.
- Philistines and Jebusites vanished around 600 BC, and Canaanites around 150 BC…roughly 1,000 years before Arab nomads first entered the land.
- Neither the Qur’an nor any other Muslim writings mention any connection between Palestinians and the ancient natives of Israel.
So, how did the Palestinians rise to power? One name: Yasser Arafat! After gaining the backing of Egypt and the Arab League, the sly, crafty Arafat created a military wing of the PLO, call the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA). The goals were to wage a terror campaign against Israel, givie Palestinian “refugees” a voice, and incite the Arab world to war against Israel. The PLO became the Palestinian Authority (PA), which still governs the Palestinian people today.
Interestingly, the PA is a government without a country! Thus, there is no tax base, so the Palestinians claim to operate at a deficit, leaving their “refugee population” living in “desperate, poverty-stricken” conditions. However, the reality is that they are funded by at least 10 sources, including the Arab League, investments, private donations, illegal arms deals, fraud, drug trafficking and other nations. In fact, $7.7 BILLION in international support was pledged to them in 2008-2010 alone, and the US pours $400 million a year into Palestinian coffers! Meanwhile, the Palestinians spend millions every month sponsoring terrorism!
Yet still, the world urges Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians, with the idea that Israel should hand over land. There have been many attempts at peace including:
- Oslo Accords of 1993-1996. Signed on the White House lawn, an agreement was reached between Palestinian founder Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to establish conditions for a future Palestinian state. However, militant groups resumed suicide bombing, Rabin was assassinated, and the peace process fell apart.
- Camp David Summit of 2000. Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak made the most generous concession ever to the Palestinians when he offered 95% of the West Bank in return for ceding of 69 currently-occupied Jewish settlements. Arafat wasn’t satisfied with 95%, thus he refused and the peace talks ended. (Is the issue really about land? I don’t think so!)
- Road Map for Peace in 2002. Fed up with Yasser Arafat, the US and Israel refused to negotiate further with the Palestinian leader. So, the PA elected its first president, Mahmoud Abbas. The US, EU, UN and Russia outlined a “road map for peace,” which included a sovereign Palestinian state. Yet, those peace plans also fell apart due to unrealistic demands of the Palestinians.
- Peace Talks of 2010-2014. In 2010, Israel agreed to freeze further development of settlements for 10 months, in order to negotiate peace plans with the Palestinians who were up in arms because Israel was building in “disputed” territory. However, the Palestinians failed to come to the negotiating table until the final month of that settlement freeze. Nothing got done, so Israel was blamed for failing to negotiate in fairness. Those same peace talks, kept alive by the Obama administration, finally collapsed in 2014. However, pressure is continually applied to Israel to make peace (ie – give up land and security) to the Palestinians.
Consider this: Israel is being asked to give up land for peace. Israel is 1/640 the size of its Arab neighbors! What land does it have to give? Secondly, in previous negotiations, they have offered up to 95% of all the Palestinians were asking. Is it REALLY about land? No! The key objective, not only of the PA, but also of Hamas and the rest of radical Islam, is to wipe Israel from the face of the map. Those intentions have been clearly stated. How does a country negotiate with folks like that?
Friends, one thing we know: God promised the land to Israel, and His promise is everlasting! (Jeremiah 32:36-44, Ezekiel 37:24-28) He has brought them back into their land, as He promised in Ezekiel 36-37. Though terror may come, God will be faithful!
Follow along this week as we take a closer look at groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and ISIS. There are special surprises this week, too. So, don’t miss out!