My plans for the summer did not include reading or in any way weighing in on the discussion of Palestinians. Honestly, while I probably should have been more educated on the issue, I can say that aside from driving through Judea and Samaria during each of my last three trips to Israel and avoiding roads that have the big red and white ‘enter at your own risk’ warning signs, the Palestinians have not been on my mind. I’ve been minding my own business. Until a few weeks ago.
While the circumstances and players are not important to this article, a sequence of conversations and confrontations brought me face to face with a simple and very uncomfortable fact: what if I’m related to the Palestinians?
Now, some of you are chuckling because you know well my Swedish blue eyes and very European ancestry, even if I tan easily to a deep bronze. But seriously? What if I am related?
The simple truth is that I believe I am.
Before rolling your eyes and moving on, let me take you for a journey.
Many, or most, reading this blog understand well my thoughts and understanding from Scripture concerning the house of Israel, the house of Judah and the Father’s plan both to scatter and disperse, respectively, then to regather into one Kingdom in the hand of the Messiah, two sticks to be one (echad) people. It is the complete explanation of not just Ezekiel 37, but the whole of prophecy! God will do the seeming impossible by restoring kol Israel while magnifying His Torah and exalting Jerusalem.
Having been reared as a Christian and having pastored for nearly ten years in a Presbyterian pulpit before feeling called to keep the words of Moses, I understand that the kingdom will contain people from every tribe, tongue and nation, thus fulfilling the promise to our father Abraham whose seed has been scattered to the ends of the earth. Glorious!
But, does that mean there will be Palestinians there?
I was in Israel for Pesach earlier this year. Before the feast, I participated in a conference largely dedicated to exploring the place and connection of non-Jews to Israel and our role as part of the house of Israel. An orthodox rabbi, Harry Rozenberg, spoke to us about his research and work over the last few years concerning people groups that either, by self identification, or by DNA evidence and cultural markers, consider themselves part of Israel. During his address he said that “conservatively” 25% of Palestinians have Jewish DNA. I have seen another Jewish report that lists Palestinian DNA connectivity with the Jews as high as 61%!!
Whoa!! If Judah is my brother, then some of the Palestinians must also be my brother. Wait. What?
It is a sad admission, but, for the most part, Christians and Jews love to hate the Palestinians. We all view the Palestinians as enemies of Israel and therefore justify vitriol against a whole group of people. It is immaterial whether they are a man-made nationality or not. We love Israel and in our exuberance we forget that at least elements of the Palestinians are part of the house of Israel or part of the house of Judah! Wow. Something here is terribly wrong.
Now, to be abundantly clear, some of the Palestinians have engaged in despicable acts. There is no excuse for acts of terrorism, regardless of the circumstances. I do not in any way, shape or form condone or support in any way their acts of aggression, particularly against women and children.
We can and should hate all acts of terrorism perpetrated by the Palestinians or any people, but we should not hate them. Rather, if they, like every other people group on the planet, contain elements of the house of Israel, then we must view them with compassion and trust that the Father will work out the details to an extremely sticky and long standing war between brothers.
As the Palestinian question was pushed into the forefront of my mind, Israel’s plight being saddled with a political hot potato and dangerous foe was also forced forward. After all, Israel is the other side of the coin. The Land, including the so called ‘Occupied Territories’ of Judea and Samaria, has been promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: Israel! And, the house of Judah is promised rulership over that land, therefore, they rightfully have authority over the entire region and have paid a significant price to gain and hold the region under control. This has been the situation for the last 50 or so years with a major and ongoing uptick in tensions since the creation of the Palestinian Authority by the 1993 Oslo Accords.
While I have long believed that a two state solution is not correct prophetically and an affront to Israel and her sovereignty, I did not really have a crystallized view of any other option until this summer. Cue a series of reports, written by Kimberly Rogers-Brown, another major driving force to make me ponder this whole thing more deeply.
Kimberly, no light weight in her love and commitment to Israel, is still a relative unknown except among non-Jewish Hebrew roots Torah keepers who use her Beastwatch News website as one source for insight into prophecy and current events regarding Israel. For several years she has lived in the Mideast as an American expat that desires to live in the Land. Because she is not Jewish, she can only stay in the Land while her visa allows, so she travels to and stays in Jerusalem for all of the feasts, but exits again in hopes that one day the rules change. Through a leaked internal paper she sent to her congregation from her vacation because of a significant disagreement within the body, she ruffled more than a few feathers. Her rhetoric was a bit strong and easily misunderstood. But, it set off a chain of explanatory public statements regarding her thoughts on the Palestinian situation and what she believes Israel needs to do.
While I do not agree or disagree with everything that she has said, and again, parts are worded very strongly, I am glad that she drew my focus to another much more Biblical option that Israel has: Annexation.
Annexation is not a new idea and now that I have had time to digest and do more reading and searching, Kimberly does articulate well the steps that she believes the Israeli government should take to resolve this 50 year impasse and operate within the bounds of Torah. What she proposes is simple in theory but exceedingly difficult in practice. Truth be told, her solution will require extreme faith and reliance on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to uphold His promises. As I recall from her Reports,
- Israel needs to be the sovereign nation that they are called to be and annex all of the Palestinian territories, regardless of external (Read: UN, US and other international) pressures.
- Israel needs to kick Hamas, Hezbollah and the PA OUT!
- Israel needs to incrementally grant full citizenship to all non-Jews living in the newly annexed regions.
- Israel needs to police to the fullest extent of the law any terrorists, arresting and prosecuting them while deporting their entire families.
- As a show of good faith, Israel needs to suspend settlement in the region.
- To build a Torah abiding/loving citizen base in the area, Israel should look to the international community of Torah keeping non-Jews and invite them to come live in the Land and develop the fullness of kol Israel.
- By taking these steps, the government of Israel, the house of Judah, will step into the role of Headship over all of the twelve tribes.
- The Israeli government needs to take seriously their calling and make the Torah more central to their rulings instead of the quite liberal social agenda they have been pursuing.
So, what does this all have to do with Yishai Fleisher, right?
Well, as I have wrestled over the last weeks with this and come closer and closer to a place of peace, I received a terrific article by orthodox Jew, Yishai Fleisher in my email. In an opinion piece titled I’m a Settler Who Defends the Birthright Walkouts, for Forward, a rather liberal Jewish news site, he shares his thoughts concerning the recent American Jews using the Birthright trips to make a political statement. The article is well worth reading.
My takeaways were multiple.
- The perspectives we get from just the media, whether our favorite Jewish sources or the left-leaning press, will only spin in their desired direction. We must pursue the perspective of God for both Israel and the Palestinians and that has to be through the lens of Scripture and prophecy.
- The Palestinians are humans and need to be treated as such. News blackouts on their real situation is disingenuous or outright lying.
- Israel needs to do something! Yishai doesn’t openly advocate for annexation in this piece, but I would guess, as a resident of East Jerusalem and an advocate for Hebron and the Jewish community there, that he would agree. Based on other articles I have read, there are many Jews who agree with at least parts of Kimberly’s stance.
- Israel needs to do a better job in the media wars of making the clear case that their roots go back over 4000 years as evidenced by archeology.
- In like manner, the Hebrew roots community needs to do a better job of condemning the sins of terrorism by the Palestinians while admitting elements are part of the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In doing so, we must reach out in compassion as our Messiah would instead of harboring animosity for our brother.
Honestly, this last month has been gut wrenching in trying not to take sides with Israel or the Palestinians but trying to gain a clear perspective of what God sees. Too many on both sides have extreme emotional reaction that far exceed reason. We must remember this is not a physical battle so much as it is a spiritual battle. We must also remember that God loves both sides, though His plan specifically runs through both houses of Israel with the Israeli government sitting squarely in the middle of prophetic fulfillment at this point. We must be forgiving of each other when we do not see eye to eye on these issues. To paraphrase a recent reminder from my friend and brother, orthodox Jew, Hanoch Young, “God is the one who will have to sort this out.”
So, I don’t have all of the answers. In fact, I have very few, but I do have a new and more specific view of Israel, the Palestinians and who my brothers are and may be….
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bring peace. I choose not to take sides. I choose not to hate and, I choose to pray for both and trust my King!