If the heartless Israelis would just let those poor Palestinians reoccupy their homeland, then all supposedly would be well. Or so goes the dominant media tripe. Pundits opine that the United Nations could move on to other vital concerns, denominations and universities could return firms dealing with Israel to their investment portfolios, and the Arab League could welcome Israel into the regional community of nations. Once the "Little Satan" (Israel) had been brought to heel, anger at the "Big Satan" (the U.S.) could subside, and we might even be able to get to our planes without TSA screening. What's not to like?
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Well, confusion for starters.
One doesn't have to believe in biblical prophecy to support Israel in the perennial and lately-hot struggles in the region. During the Cold War, the U.S. didn't side with Japan against China because we were keen on Buddhism or Shintoism. We recognized the Japanese as democratic kinfolk in the struggle against totalitarian Communism, much as we recognize the Jews as allies in the struggle against totalitarian Islam.
It seems fair to mention that, in the region, Israel is the only true democracy, the only nation with a free press, the only one whose women are as literate as the men, the only one with world-class universities and medical research facilities of global helpfulness. This is the Israel which transformed malarial swamps into arable land in the Huleh Valley north of Galilee and built tilapia farms with warm salt water pumped from beneath the Negev. These are the Israelis who try to target combatants instead of grannies on buses. Yes, more Palestinian civilians died in the most recent exchange of fire. Civilian deaths in any conflict are tragic.
But what are we to make of the Palestinians and their cause? Well, we can start with some brief observations:
1. Palestinians derive their name from "Palestina," a name the Romans coined in honor of the Philistines, a move designed to spite the Jews whom they'd expelled. Modern Palestinians are descendants of people whose original settlement and continued presence was facilitated by Muslim conquest and centuries-long Ottoman rule.
2. Beginning in 1901, Jews began purchasing land in Palestine, both from resident Arabs and from absentee landlords in other nations. By 1947, a year before the formation of the Israel, Jewish individuals owned 772 square miles of land there. Legal purchase did not preclude Arab violence, which took the form of raids and riots, prompting the formation of early defense forces, such as the Hagana, in the 1920s.
3. Many Christian Arabs opposed Jewish settlement from the beginning. Seeing Jewish immigration as a threat to their social and economic status, they spoke out against Jewish settlement as early as 1908, prompted and aided by the editorial efforts of two Arab newspapers, al-Filastin and al-Karmil, both owned by Palestinian Christians.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Mark Coppenger is director of the Nashville, Tenn., extension center for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.