Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

Although I am usually shouted-down, if I say so among liberals who support the Palestinians, I have a different view of their drive for statehood. It is a view seen up-close.

For some time, those who support Israel have pointed out that Palestinian leaders like Yasser Arafat, when addressing the Palestinian people in Arabic, sing a different tune about statehood.

Officially, via the famous/infamous Oslo Accords of 1993, the Palestinians are to receive a state in the West Bank and Gaza. This would entail carving-up sections of Israel and the Palestinian territories, but officially, both sides have agreed to this.

But what about unofficially? I am of the opinion that this is the only view that really matters.

As soon as he came to Gaza in 1994, from exile in Tunisia, Arafat declared to his own people that they would obtain all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Diplomats, politicians, military planners, and other observers of this two-decade process (Oslo) all understood that this kind of rhetoric meant that Israel would disappear.

It’s just that most didn’t take it seriously.

I have long believed that Arafat meant exactly what he was saying to his own people, in private, as it were. That was confirmed to me during a recent stroll through the Muslim Quarter, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Amid all the t-shirt designs, I saw several that were bold in their proclamations. Something I had not seen in previous visits.

Audacity.

One particular design I brought back. A simple, primitive map, with the words “Free Palestine.” Chillingly, at the top of the map, two Palestinian flags have been planted. This means exactly what you have surmised: the Palestinian people expect that Palestine will soon comprise all of the land.

This means they intend for Israel to disappear, either literally or as a bi-national state.

One can disagree with me, but I’ve been there and talked to people and seen the new boldness of the Palestinian people, who believe their long dream/nightmare of reversing the “Nakba” is about to be realized.

And that’s scary.

Just some historical detail for you, in light of the drive for statehood by the Palestinians.

On the afternoon of May 14, 1948, Jewish Zionist leader David Ben Gurion rose to speak at a theatre in Tel Aviv, steps from the beach.

Ben Gurion read Israel’s declaration of independence, as an international radio audience listened. He was surrounded by other Zionist leaders. The whole thing lasted just minutes.

The next day, a promised invasion of the new country, by neighboring Arab armies, was launched and a months-long bloody conflict ended with the 1949 armistice lines. Thus, a sovereign Jewish presence in that ancient land of their forefathers was established after an historical gap of almost 2,000 years.

Israel was born, politically, from a vote in the UN on November 29, 1947, in which a majority of the Security Council voted to partition what was left of Palestine, after Transjordan was formed in 1946.

One wonders if we are on the cusp of a new state, literally on top of the state of Israel. Interestingly, Independence Hall in Tel Aviv is today almost an afterthought for most tourists.

If the Palestinians win their bid for statehood, at what symbolic place will they declare it so?

Independence Hall—Tel Aviv

At an outdoor mall in Jerusalem this summer, I felt as if I were in a place of limbo. The mall begins just steps from the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, and extends northwestward, into the western part of the city.

Let me explain.

Officially, the Palestinians are asking for a state, with its capitol in eastern Jerusalem. I believe the Israelis have a couple times offered part or all of the Temple Mount, not terribly far from Jaffa Gate.

That makes all this territory terribly volatile. No doubt such seemingly mundane places as outdoor malls would become disputed territory, or at least dangerous areas (the whole city was a battle-zone in 1948).

Yet…as I strolled through this gorgeous gauntlet of high-end stores, I saw something that made me laugh. At various places along the mall, a local artist had placed his biblical-scene sculptures. They are quite beautiful and striking.

Outside a lingerie store, however, I noticed one of these sculptures…Samson and Delilah. Now, most of us know at least the bare details of this story: beauty seduces man of strength and betrays him.

I literally stood there and laughed. Surely the sculpture was placed there strategically. Perhaps it wasn’t. All I know is that it offered a much-needed laugh in a place that has seen too many tears for too long.

The lingerie worked

Since Oslo, when Israel and the Palestinians ostensibly began negotiating for a peaceful solution to their conflict, I have noticed a trend in the West to talk about a place called “Palestine.”

Like Shangri-La, it has seemed to be a dream state, a mythical place many long for.

In my office, I have placed a framed vintage poster (ironically, purchased this summer in Israel) titled: “Come to Palestine.”

A reproduction from the 1930s, the poster invites memories of a different time: Casablanca; Indiana Jones; etc. I like to look at it.

But as we watch with great interest the debate going on within the halls of the United Nations in New York, I think the poster takes on a different feel. One wonders if the Palestinians and their friends on the Left will in fact be able to will “Palestine” into being.

Personally, I wouldn’t bet against them. And, while many of my pro Israel Christian friends disagree, I don’t know that the Bible mitigates against a Palestinian state in the “last days.”

All we know for sure is that the Lord has promised to bring back the Jews to their ancestral land one final time. The area known as the West Bank (biblically, Judea and Samaria) is the point of contention now, simply because huge numbers of Jews live there, and the Palestinians officially claim the area for a future state.

So we have a showdown looming. All I know as an individual is that if Palestine becomes a reality, as a potential tourist, I will see her only from the poster in my office. My heart belongs to Israel.

The two-dimensional state...for now