Terror Strikes in the West Bank

My heart was heavy when I heard news of the Tuesday morning terror attack upon Israeli security and police officers in the West Bank.  I was especially burdened because I was in the West Bank (Biblical Judea and Samaria) only a couple weeks ago and was so encouraged by what I saw and experienced there.

Our special trip on that day was into Samaria where I witnessed with my own eyes an incredible place where Jews and Palestinians work happily every day side-by-side in a cooperative effort we don’t often hear about in the media.  (Take time to read Into the West Bank and Jews and Arabs Side-by-Side…Despite BDS.)

I’m not so naive to think that, because I saw the “good” side of life in the West Bank, that terrorism doesn’t occur.  In fact, we went to an overlook, towering above Nablus, a terrorist haven.  So, we were vividly reminded that life in the West Bank can get messy, as it did Tuesday morning.

But the report still stunned me.  Partly because I simply can’t imagine why, when the Israelis extend the hand of peace and friendship to such a great degree, there are those who attack without provocation and for no known reason.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  Israel is not perfect…they have issues just like the rest of us.  But the reality is that many Palestinians are given decent, better paying jobs in Israeli-owned and operated companies than they would ever find in territories controlled by the Palestinians.  In fact, most prefer to work for Israeli companies where they are typically treated much better and paid much better.

Image result for har adar shootingIn this case, 37-year-old Nimr Mahmoud Ahmad al-Jamal possessed a legal work permit, but instead of making his way to work that morning, he pulled a gun out of  his clothing and randomly opened fire on Israeli security and police officers near Har Adar, killing three before being shot dead himself.  (That is the typical ending to a Palestinian attack.  One would think the payoff isn’t worth it, but the twisted mindset of those bent on terror is not easily understood.)

We did not travel through Har Adar that day, but the images of the cities and villages that we saw are still etched in my mind, as is the vivid remembrance of touring a factory where Jews and Palestinians were joyfully working together.  I’m saddened by this event, as it will almost certainly have an impact on the ease in which Palestinians are able to obtain work permits.

Image result for har adar shootingIt also heightens animosity on both sides.  While the Jewish nation mourns the loss of three brave servicemen (and another wounded), Fatah and Hamas, the ruling parties in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, applaud the attacks.  Islamic Jihad does likewise.

I am so glad I was there to witness cooperation between Jews and Palestinians, because news like this taints the reality that there are Palestinians who likely feel “stuck” in the clutches of oppressive tyranny.  It is confirmation to me of why the Bible tells us to pray for Israel.  Will you join me in turning this weekend’s Yom Kippur commemoration into a time of pleading on behalf of Jews AND Palestinians, that repentance will come, and that SOMEHOW the grace of God which has appeared, bringing salvation to ALL men (Titus 2:11), will grip the hearts and minds of Jews and Palestinians alike?

This week has been filled with debate over whether spoiled men playing a child’s game should stand or kneel.  Christian friends, let’s get on with what counts for eternity…will you kneel in prayer to the King of Kings on behalf of His chosen people and their neighbors?

Blessings and Curses

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.”
~Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Dear friends, God pronounces blessings and curses, dependent upon our obedience to Him!  Did you know that?

When Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, one of the Lord’s first lessons was that of blessings and curses, and that lesson was taught in the region of Samaria! It is found in Deuteronomy 11:26-32, where God commands the people to set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse upon Mount Ebal. Shechem lies in between and was the first capital of Israel.

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Mount Gerizim, Mount Ebal and Shechem are right in the heart of Samaria. (See Into the West Bank and Jews and Arabs Side-by-Side for more insight into Samaria.) It is believed that Samaritans rose up against Rome during the Galilean rebellion (67 AD), and Shechem was destroyed.  About 5 years later, Vespasian built a new city just west of there and named it Flavia Neapolis (Emperor Flavia’s “new city”).

Though Neapolis once had a Christian presence, it was Islamized in the Ottoman period, and the name was changed to Nablus (though Israelis still call it Shechem).  Today, it is a safe haven for terrorists.  (No, we did not go to Nablus!  We simply viewed it from afar!)

2017-0907 Triangular Refugee Camp (Settlement)Not too far from Nablus is a “refugee camp,” supposedly home to “refugees” from the War of Independence (1948).  That somewhat triangular-shaped refugee camp is pictured to the right.  Looks an awful lot like a regular village, doesn’t it!

2017-0907 Jewish Village in WBWe were told that Samaria is a lot like a game of tic-tac-toe between the Jews and Arabs.  While both live fairly peacefully in neighboring villages, each will build a new village if the other is expanding too greatly in any direction!  It is common for Arabs to build down low, at the base of the hills, where fertile land lies in the valleys.  Meanwhile, Jews prefer to build higher up, taking advantage of the cool breezes, and the vantage point of higher ground!

Finally, there was another interesting point in regard to this territory.  Once most Jews were driven from the land in 70 AD, Arabs took over.  When they did, they named many of their cities according to the Arab translation of the Biblical name.  Thus, when the land was re-inhabited by Jews about 1,800 years later and archeologists began unearthing ancient Jewish sites, many locations were confirmed because the Arab form of the Hebrew names lent veracity to what was discovered!

 

A prime example is the fairly recent discovery of Jacob’s altar.  Once discovered, it was unclear whether or not it was the actual altar built by Jacob.  However, based on Biblical landmarks with Arab translation, the site was confirmed!  God uses even Israel’s enemies as His tool!

I’ve got one more bit to share with you regarding Samaria, so check back later!  God made promises to Israel that are being fulfilled in exciting ways in Samaria.

 

Jews and Arabs Side-by-Side…Despite BDS!

Hi friends!  We’re in the middle of exploring the Biblical land of Samaria, talked about consistently in the Bible.  Yesterday I gave you a brief overview of the demographics and today I want to tell you about Jews and Arabs working together side-by-side in Samaria.

Image result for bdsBut first, a bit about BDS…boycott, divest, sanction.  Many nations around the world, spearheaded by Europe, have signed on to the BDS movement, in attempts to financially destroy Israel.  Yet, it doesn’t make sense!  Why?

  • There are as many Arabs as Jews working in the West Bank.
  • If West Bank-produced products are boycotted, factory workers…including Palestinians…lose their jobs.
  • When Palestinians go back to their homes without work, terrorism increases.
  • The Palestinian Authority pays significant amounts of money to anyone willing to kill a Jew.  Thus, crime pays if you are a Palestinian!
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Israel & Moshe

Now, to the rest of the story, as told to us by Moshe.  After the War of Independence, a young lad named Israel came to the land with his family.  They worked long, hard days and Israel helped in the field rather than go to school, as making a life for a family was very difficult.  Despite only an elementary education and no understanding of how to use a computer, Israel holds over 120 patents worldwide!  He sketches his ideas out with pencil and paper and others use CAD technology to move his ideas into production.

Israel also knows that the “undesirables” in society often just need a little help to get over the hump.  Thus, he started a factory in Samaria and began hiring Jews and Arabs to work side-by-side with one another.  All his workers get the same benefits and all are paid well for their position.  When a family (Jew or Arab)

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Twitoplast in Petah Tikvah

faces a crisis, the company (Twitoplast) steps in to help.  The company’s plant manager and lead chemist are both Palestinian, and both were put through specialized schooling to prepare them for their jobs.

As we walked through the factory, everyone had on the same “work uniform”…a turquois company t-shirt and work pants.  We could tell absolutely no 2017-0907 Twitoplast Chemist.jpgdifference between Jews and Palestinians.  According to Moshe, wages are high. But he told us that an Israeli’s take home pay feeds the mouths and cares for the needs of his immediate family, while the Palestinian’s same take home pay feeds the mouths and cares for the needs of his extended family…parents, brothers, sisters and anyone else in the household.  Thus, the goodness of the factory owner reaches an average of 10 Palestinian family members.

When Israel was asked why he does what he does, his response was because he loves people…all people!  Tikkun olam!

2017-0907 Baby DeviceBTW – in Phoenix we see too many children forgotten in hot cars.  The same must be true in Israel as well.  One of Israel’s latest patents is for a small, simple device that hooks to the strap of a child’s car seat.  Once the child is strapped in, the parent (or caregiver) puts the device (with a paperclip-like flap) on his or her clothing.  On the plastic device are the words “איפה הילד?” (Where’s the child?)  Thus, if someone sees the person with that device on his/her clothing and no child present, they ask the question!  Simple, but effective, and they provide them free of charge to anyone purchasing a car seat or leaving a hospital with a newborn!

So you see, despite BDS, and despite what you hear on the news, it is possible for Jews and Palestinians to be at peace with one another!  Let’s pray that the spirit of evil that prevails upon so many will be lifted!

Keep watching…my adventures in the West Bank are not over!  I’ll tell you about a terrorist-laden area next!

 

Into the West Bank!

Ok gang, what do you think when you hear “West Bank?”  Border walls? Terrorists? Danger?  Well, while there is a degree of each of those, I want you to have a better understanding of the West Bank!

If you are a student of the Bible, you know that a great many of our Bible heros (as well as some villains!) were known to have lived or traveled in Judea and Samaria.  Think of Joshua and the tabernacle in Shiloh (Joshua 18-22), Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), many kings who ruled from Samaria (1 Kings, 2 Kings), the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), even Jesus meeting the woman at the well (John 4).  All these things (and literally dozens more) happened in the area we know today as the West Bank.  Thus, we can safely say that Samaria is an important part of the Bible land.

2017-0907 Green Line Wall

What a blessing to be invited as a guest of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) on Thursday as their staff toured Samaria.  I’m in Israel for the sixth time, but have never experienced this unique journey.  So, aboard a chartered bus with Boaz (our guide), we headed west out of Jerusalem and traveled along the infamous wall at the Green Line.  Today I’ll give you the lay of the land, because it will be Israel - J&S Mapimportant as I share with you in the days ahead!  On the map to the LEFT, notice first that Judea (to the south) and Samaria (to the north) make up what is known today as the West Bank.  The West Bank surrounds Jerusalem (actually cutting it virtually in half), with only territory to the west being Israeli-controlled.

The West Bank is said to be “disputed territory,” because following the 1967 War, armistice lines were drawn.  Those lines NEVER became official borders, though the Palestinians won favor in the court of world opinion and thus, their contention is that the land is theirs, despite the fact that Israel decisively won the Six Day War (of 1967), taking back all territory.  Today, we hear about the “1967 borders,” but technically, there is no such thing!

And who keeps it all safe for both Israelis and Palestinians?  The IDF!  Here is an Israeli military prep facility, a group of IDF soldiers being trained in the area, and a watch tower at one of the intersections that cross over the Green Line:

Today, Samaria is governed by the Shomron Regional Council (similar to counties in the US), and our group was a guest of the Council as we toured.  They wanted to further familiarize ICEJ about Samaria, because the truth of Samaria needs to get out, and Christians seem to be stepping in to tell the story!  Here are some facts about Samaria:

  • Roughly 1080 square miles – about 12% of Israel
  • Over 720,000 Jewish residents live beyond the “Green Line” (450,000 in 250 towns, 270,000 in Palestinian-controlled East Jerusalem)
  • 1.8M Arabs in the West Bank (2.9M by their statistics)
  • 70% of roads are closed to Jews, 1% are closed to Arabs
  • Home Front Command designated Samaritan Jewish communities to absorb 500,000 Israelis in case of missile war!

You see, the media would like for us to believe the West Bank is illegally “occupied territory” by Israelis, and because of that, conditions are so bad that the Palestinians must depend upon others to exist.  That is not so!  Jews and Arabs most definitely have their own cities and villages within the territory and, in some places, live side-by-side.  There are some very nice Jewish neighborhoods within Samaria, yet some of these are the “illegal settlements” you hear about on the news.

The talk about “Israeli occupiers” and “illegal settlements” is pure media hype, perpetuated by the mentality that someone “owes” them something.  The Arabs in the area live very well and have their own settlements, which are uncontested.  Those on believe differently truly need to go and see for themselves!

Next, I’ll share about a very incredible phenomena of Jews and Arabs working side-by-side to the benefit of all and despite BDS!  Keep an eye out for it!