The Pastor’s Pen: May 20, 2018

At the time of this writing, 60 people have been killed at the Gaza-Israeli border for protesting our government’s move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem – one of the worst decisions the present Administration has made. On the surface, some may see this as a good idea, but they have a profound lack of historical knowledge.

Reviewing biblical history provides some context for the ancient tensions that are antecedents to the present crisis. Although there is some debate, the present-day Palestinians are more than likely the descendants of the Philistines who were the arch enemies of the Jews in their attempts to take over Palestine. The city of Jerusalem itself was conquered militarily by David, from the Jebusites, another ancient Palestinian people. Then, centuries after David’s victories, the Romans, the occupying force of Israel during Jesus’ time, totally destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD and exiled the Jewish people to places throughout the Roman Empire. At that point, neither Jew nor Palestinian controlled the city but the Romans.

However, for more than a thousand years, Palestinian people lived in the land, under the control of a number of Moslem caliphates and military leaders.

When we fast forward from antiquity to the modern world, the present Jewish nation was born with the United Nations Resolution 181, November 29, 1947. This action was largely a result of the U.S. and Europe’s guilt for doing so little to protect Jews from the Nazis during World War II. The Resolution recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states from the partition of Palestine and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem.

Resolution 181 recognized the tension of partitioning a land that for more than a thousand years was occupied by Palestinians. The present Administration’s unilateral decision to place the US Embassy in Jerusalem sparked the present violence; it will do nothing to heal the feelings of hopelessness of the Palestinian people who are separated by razor barbed wire, covered walls and military controlled check points to simply get to their jobs on the other side of Israel’s checkpoint. Not surprisingly, it is the Palestinians, like the Hispanics in this country, who perform the menial labor.

If World War III ever happens, it will be in the Middle East. There is too much at stake here for our government to consider epic decisions such as moving the embassy, with such cavalier disdain.