At Christian Spectrum we're friends with both the Jewish and the Arab peoples.  We affirm God’s promises to the Jewish people and his history with them which the Bible bears testimony to, but we’re also concerned for the well-being and salvation of the Palestinians.

Who are the Palestinians?

The Palestinians are Arabic-speaking people who have their origins in Palestine.  The area was named ‘Syria Palestina’ by the Romans, but later known as simply ‘Palestine’.  Today, about a third of all Palestinians live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Israel, where they constitute almost half of the population.  There are significant numbers also who reside in other parts of the Middle East, particularly Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Since the 7th century, Palestinians have been predominantly religiously Muslim and culturally Arab.  However there is a minority of Palestinian Christians, Druze and Samaritans in the Middle East today.

Pushing for statehood

The Palestinians are constantly in the news at present, because they're pushing for statehood – something most Western leaders favour.  Indeed, a two-state solution to the problem of the division of the land in the state of Israel has been on the UN, US and UK agendas for years.  President Obama is in favour of two states, provided the Palestinians are committed to living in peace with Israel.

Roots of the conflict

The conflict between Jews and Arabs is almost as old as the Bible itself.  Jews take their lineage from Abraham’s son Isaac, whereas Muslims take theirs from Abraham’s son Ishmael.  The account of Ishmael’s birth is in Genesis 16, where we read that the angel of the Lord prophesied about Ishmael that he would be ‘a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers (verse 12).’

Not only today, but throughout history, this has been true.  The greatest hostility, however, has been against the Jews.  The Muslim attitude toward Jews is reflected in many references in the Koran, the holy book of the Islamic faith.  According to the Koran, the Jews try to introduce corruption (Sura 5:24), have always been disobedient (Sura 5:78) and are enemies of Allah, the Prophet, and the angels (Sura 2:97-98).

Clash of ideologies

The Muslim view divides the world into two houses, the House of Islam and the House of War.  The House of Islam constitutes all those lands in which a Muslim government rules by Islamic law and in these Jews are classed as infidels because they do not accept the supremacy of the Muslim state.  The House of War refers to those countries where the Muslim law is not in force and which therefore need to be subjugated.

Palestinians therefore are driven by an ideology that is incompatible with that of Israel.  The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is seen by the nations as a complicated political, ethnic, human and cultural problem which could be solved by common sense and some compromises on both sides.  But here at Christian Spectrum we believe that it’s a much deeper issue with significant spiritual overtones.

Whose land?

The conflict we hear so much of in the media is not simply ethnic, or a battle between two people groups for the same land, or a battle for historic rights and independence.  If it was, the Arab Palestinians could have had their own homeland and state years ago when both the UN and the Jews offered it to them.  In the years between 1948 (birth of the state of Israel) and 1967, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were ruled by Jordan, and Gaza by Egypt.  These Arab nations did nothing to create an independent state for their fellow Arabs.

Rather, in 1964 the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was created, under the patronage of King Hussein (Jordan) and President Nasser (Egypt).  The PLO’s goal was, and still is, despite the Oslo Accords of 1993, to drive the Jews into the sea and liberate all of Palestine.  By this they mean to wipe Israel off the map.

To wipe Israel off the map

After the 1967 Israeli victory against all odds, with four surrounding nations against them, the Arab League announced there would be no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel and no recognition of Israel.  Today, Palestinian school children have textbooks with no maps of Israel in them, and they are taught to hate Israel.

Biased media reports

Israel and the Jews are seen by the majority of nations and the UN as the residents in Israel who suppress, mistreat and kill Arabs, refusing them their right to their land and their capital, Jerusalem.  Arab voices cry for revenge, retaliation and jihad (holy war) to liberate their land.

Western media stresses the contrast between heavily armed troops and unarmed, defenceless women and children, while overlooking the fact that children and youths are strategically misused, even sacrificed.  Arab-Christian youths have been forced to participate in uprisings by throwing stones, being branded traitors if they refuse.  The PLO pay every family for each person killed or wounded in uprisings.

Every Friday calls go out from the mosques encouraging the Muslim faithful to sacrifice their life in order to destroy the Jews and liberate all of Palestine.  Many teachers, parents and national figures encourage young people to aspire to become suicide bombers.

Palestinian attitude to Israel

In his book ‘Will Israel Survive?’ Mitchell Bard says:

If Israel withdrew from 100% of the Gaza Strip, 100% of the West Bank, 100% of the Golan Heights, and 100% of Jerusalem, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would not stop murdering Israeli women and children.  Rather, they would intensify their terrorist campaign in the belief that they had forced Israel to withdraw that far, so eventually they could force the Jews into the sea.

To appease Western liberal democratic governments, Palestinians have expressed that their goal is a ‘secular democratic’ state in Palestine.  The notion of a secular Arab state however is impossible for Arabs to contemplate.  Most Palestinians would probably be happy to live in peace, but there is no democracy and the leaders do not represent the views of the people.

Compromise seen as weakness

The Islamists see compromise as weakness.  Because Israelis want any slice of cake rather than no cake at all, they are willing to negotiated land for peace.  Yet in 2000 Arafat rejected outright their offer of 97% of the West Bank and all of Gaza.  The reality is that Islam wants it all.  Bard says:

The unwillingness to accept a Jewish state in their midst also is a common thread among Islamists and some Muslims perceived as being moderate.  Yasser Arafat, for example, was often portrayed as a secular leader but he was not.  The Islamists from the more extreme movements may have seen him as an apostate, but Arafat was a Muslim who was no more willing to accept Jewish sovereignty over Muslim land than the leaders of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.  That is one reason why he would never end the conflict with Israel.

Jerusalem and God's presence

The dispute over Jerusalem is also a religious issue, not just a geographical one.  The ‘City of David’, established by him at the start of his reign, is central to Jewish identity and destiny as a nation, in particular, the Temple mount where Solomon’s temple stood.  At the dedication of the Temple, God declared that his eyes and his heart would always be there (1 Kings 9:3).

Islam, however, believes that Allah honoured the Islamic community with the final revelation of truth and called it to bring the whole world under the rule of Islam.  Jerusalem is the third most important centre to Muslims after Mecca and Medina and so is an important symbol of Islamic rule.  Because Jerusalem is important to both, attempts at reconciliation and peace initiatives falter when the city is under negotiation.  Both Jews and Muslims link their identity, their home and their inheritance with Jerusalem.

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are situated, is on the Western Wall and adjacent to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  For the 19 years that Jordan controlled the Old City, Jews were denied access to their shrines, as were Israeli Christians.

Peace between Jew and Palestinian?

The cross of Jesus is the only place where all animosity, jealousy and anger can be laid down completely and we’re thrilled to hear testimonies from both Jews and Arabs who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and now genuinely love and honour each other.  The long-standing animosity between the children of Abraham and the children of Ishmael is only eradicated through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  As the apostle Paul said:

You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ . . . There is neither Jew nor Greek (or Palestinian, for that matter), slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26,28).

God’s heart for the Palestinians

God’s promise is that one day the Middle East will be a centre of blessing.  He says this:

In that day Israel there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria.  The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria.  The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together.  In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth.  The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel by inheritance’ (Isaiah 19:23-25).

We believe this speaks of a time in the near future when Jesus returns and establishes his Kingdom on earth.  In the meantime, we look for more foretastes of this, as the Gospel of the Kingdom touches the hearts and lives of Jews and Palestinians alike.


Link to blog regarding the Palestinian State

At Christian Spectrum we are friends with both the Jewish and the Arab peoples.  We affirm God’s promises to the Jewish people and his history with them which the Bible bears testimony to, but we’re also concerned for the well-being and salvation of the Palestinians

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