Sermons

Summary: An attempt to clarify the details of the murky situation in Israel and the Middle East.

[This message was written during the unrest in Israel during the spring of 2002.]

Our Goal: “Being aware of the situation when you ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem.’”

The Two Major Combatants:

1. Israel.

- almost exclusively Jewish.

- the vast majority of its people have returned to the area since 1948.

- its biggest ally is the United States.

2. The Palestinians.

- primarily Muslim.

- they were the possessors of this area for centuries before 1948.

- their biggest ally is the rest of the Arab world (Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

The Three Particularly Important Areas:

[For this section, you definitely need to have a map showing these areas.]

1. The West Bank.

- it was not part of Israel in 1948.

- it was ruled by Jordan until 1967, when Israel captured it.

- includes portion of Jerusalem.

- now divided between Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and Jewish settlement and military

positions.

2. The Gaza Strip.

- it was not part of Israel in 1948.

- it was occupied by Egypt until 1967, when Israel captured it.

- largely Palestianian-controlled, but with numerous Jewish settlements.

3. The Golan Heights.

- it was not part of Israel in 1948.

- it belonged to Syria until 1967, when Israel captured it.

Why Are These Three Areas So Important?

1. They were not part of Israel’s original 1948 borders.

2. Israel occupied the land in a disputed military action.

- the disputed military action is the Six-Day War of 1967.

- “disputed” in that Israel calls their actions “pre-emptive” while the Palestinians call Israel’s

actions “aggressive.”

3. There are still Palestinians living in these areas, which have been for most of the years since

1967 “occupied” by Israel.

- the Palestinians feel they’re under foreign occupation, which leads to a situation that breeds

resentment and anger.

How Did The Middle East Get To The Mess It Is Today?

1. Late 1800s - Early 1900s - The rise of the Zionist movement.

- the Zionist movement pushed the idea of restoring a Jewish nation to the Holy Land.

- this idea was not met with immediate enthusiasm, but slowly did begin to win followers.

2. 1948 - The creation of the nation of Israel.

- coming toward the end of World War II, the British controlled the Holy Land. They tried to

broker an agreement that would create separate Arab and Jewish states out of the Holy Land.

The Arabs rejected the proposal.

- with no political solution possible, the British forces withdrew on May 14, 1948. The Jews

declared Israel a nation and Arab forces invaded.

- by November 1948, the better-trained Israeli military had prevailed. Israel had, during this war,

increased its land holdings by one-half (compared with the original British proposal).

- Israel considers this event a war of independence for the creation of their homeland.

Palestinians call this Al Naqba (or, “The Catastrophe”), when more than 700,000 Arabs were

driven from their homes.

3. 1967 - The Six-Day War.

- fearing an imminent attack from Egyptian and Syrian forces, Israel struck first.

- six days later, Israel had gained control of (“occupied”) the Sinai peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the

Golan Heights, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.

4. 1979 - The Camp David Accords.

- during negotiations led by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Israel agrees to return control of the

Sinai peninsula to Egypt in return for Egypt’s recognition of Israel.

5. 1987 - Intifada.

- this Arab uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories involved terrorist military

activity by Palestinians, resulting in escalating tensions and more violence.

- Israel viewed this as Arafat choosing violence over peacemaking; the Palestinians viewed this

as an overdue response to twenty years of Israel building settlements in the occupied territories.

6. 1993 - The Oslo I Agreement.

- Israel agrees to withdraw its forces from Arab territories seized during the Six-Day War; Arab

states agree to recognize Israel’s statehood and right to security.

7. 1995 - The Oslo II Agreement.

- Israeli forces are to withdraw from six Arab cities and 400 villages in the West Bank by early

1996. Both sides blame the other when it doesn’t happen.

8. 2000 and continuing now in 2002 - The Second Intifada.

- more Palestinian violence is met by a hard-line response by Prime Minister Sharon.

Why Is There So Much Hatred?

1. The animosity goes back to Abraham.

- Genesis 16:1-4.

2. Both sides claim ownership of the same land.

3. This isn’t just any land - it’s considered holy by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

4. The Palestinians are rapidly growing in numbers.

- in Israel (when you include all of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza), the Jews make up 51%

of the population and the Arabs 49%.

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