An old man walks slowly, painfully down the rocky hill near the small Galilean town of Safed. His face is leathery from too many days in the harsh Israeli sun. The lines on his brow seem like a roadmap to his soul. As he reaches the bottom of the hill a young blond boy about the age of ten runs to meet him. They embrace with an affection that could only come from the long absence of a beloved family member. The boy takes his great-grandfather's hand and they walk through the peaceful green valley.
They stop and sit on a large flat rock and the old man reaches into his knapsack and brings out an aged thermos, offering the boy the first drink. After a few eager gulps he places the thermos back into the old man's hand. He then speaks in a somewhat fearful voice, "Grandpa, what is happening to the country? Why are so many people leaving Israel? I have heard the grown-ups talk in muffled tones about radiation sickness. What does it mean, and how did all this come about? Do you remember the old days and will you tell what has happened and why?"
As the old man looked deeply into the inquisitive dark brown eyes of his beloved great-grandson, David, he knew that the time had come to tell the boy the truth. He had waited until he knew that David was old enough to understand the tortured, tragic yet hauntingly beautiful story of Israel.
As Joshua began to tell the story, the boy's eyes sparkled with anticipation, eager to know the truth after years of hushed whispers. We are an ancient people, the Jews, descendants of the great warriors and kings, judges and prophets, poets and teachers who wrote the Holy Scriptures we call our Bible. After more than a thousand years of independence in the land of Israel, they faced a variety of misfortunes and defeats in battle. On several occasions they were forced into exile, only to be allowed to return and rebuild their country. In the year 70 CE the mighty army of the Roman Empire laid waste their capitol, Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple of Solomon. Many Jews were murdered, exiled or sold into slavery, but some held on and survived in small villages and rural areas.
With the loss of sovereignty and independence in Israel, the Jews wandered the earth without a home for almost 2000 years. Other peoples and nations viewed them as strangers. In almost every corner of the world they were both hated and feared. A small Jewish sect claimed that the Messiah had come in the body of a young carpenter named Jesus. The Romans, who ruled Israel at the time, put him to death, fearing political insurrection should his followers grow in number. His believers tried to spread the new religion, Christianity, throughout the Roman Empire by switching blame for Jesus's execution from the Romans to the Jews. This was a clever political move since Rome was in the ascendancy. Unfortunately the consequences for our people were devastating. The evil of some Christians spread across Europe from Jerusalem, bringing death, persecution, and exile to Jews everywhere. The Christians, misinterpreting the teachings of Jesus, launched a war against our people that lasted until the Last Apocalypse, about which I will speak later.
In the sixth century following the birth of Christianity, there arose a new religion in the Arabian Peninsula. A young Arab named Muhammad, who had spent much time enmeshed in religious dialogue with the Jews of Medina, began to have visions. These visions were written down in a new bible called the Koran, which named Muhammad as the last true prophet of God. Muhammad was thrown out of Mecca as troublemaker when he first started to teach his new monotheistic religion, Islam. He then fled to Medina feeling confident that the Jews, from whom he learned about God, would quickly embrace his new faith and accept him as its prophet. The Jews, whose religious philosophy of monotheism had also given birth to Christianity, rejected Mohammed. In retaliation, Muhammad infused the Koran with hatred for the Jews just as the Christians had done with their New Testament. Following the rise of Islam, the Jews suffered fifteen hundred years of discrimination, persecution, forced conversion, blood libels, and massacres in the Moslem lands from North Africa to Persia. During some periods of enlightenment, the cultural and scientific elites among the Jews were accepted by Moslem society. When this happened it resulted in a golden age of progress and achievement for both cultures. Unfortunately, even during these "good years" the masses of Jews were still considered dhimmis, or second-class citizens.
In Christian Europe the plight of the Jews was much worse than among the Arabs (Moslems). The early Church taught that Jewish misfortune was the Divine punishment for the their rejection of Jesus, and that consequently Jews must be kept in degradation as living witnesses to the truth of Christianity. It was widely believed that the Land of Israel should be made a desert and Jews be forbidden to go to Jerusalem. Because the Church held such anti-Semitic positions, a wide range of priests, monks, bishops, cardinals, and popes felt justified in almost any act that would injure the position of the Jewish community of their region. Jews were forced to listen to conversion sermons. Blood libels were invented that claimed that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood to make matzo (un-leavened bread used by Jews to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt). Needless to say, Jews were massacred every Passover to save the children. The masses were frequently encouraged to murder, rape, and pillage the Jewish population all in the name of Christianity.
Jews, because of their personal habits of cleanliness (the Church taught that bathing was an invitation to the Devil) and their kosher diet, did not fall prey to the Black Death during the fourteenth century in the same numbers as Christians. Because of this the Church blamed the plague on the Jews, claiming that they poisoned the wells of gentiles. This resulted in the massacres of Jews in over 200 towns and villages across Europe. The Church forcibly converted many Jews and then had the Inquisitor hunt them down, torture and burn to death those found to be still practicing Judaism. Jewish populations were expelled en masse from dozens of countries at the whim of the Church. In Spain, alone, the expelled Jewish community numbered over 200,000 and represented the most cultured, most intelligent, most civilized people on the face of the earth.
The tortures, the murders, the rapes, the expulsions continued without letup until they were surpassed in brutality by the great Holocaust of the twentieth century. Vladmir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky had warned the Jews to get out of Europe and found a Jewish State. He organized a Jewish army of defense, but he was rejected by the Europe's Jewish leadership. He died before his warnings came to pass and before his vision of a new State of Israel was re-born.
There arose in Germany, a country of great scientific and industrial wealth, a man named Adolf Hitler, obsessed with the idea that Jews were an evil race that must be destroyed. During the Second World War, he fashioned the means to exterminate every Jew in Europe and then the world. German scientists developed a gas that would kill quickly and efficiently. German industrialists built gas chambers and crematoria so that Jews could be killed and their bodies disposed of quickly. German doctors used the Jews as laboratory animals in bizarre and macabre experiments. Before he had decided on mass extermination, Hitler had contacted the leaders of all the nations of the world to ascertain if any country would take the Jews. When the answer was "no" from every quarter, he set in motion what he called "the Final Solution to the Jewish Question."
Going back in history to 1897 one finds the beginning of modern Israel. It was in that year that Theodore Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress at Basle, Switzerland. Herzl was an assimilated Jew from Vienna who had witnessed anti-Semitism on a grand scale during the trial of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew falsely accused and convicted of treason in France. Once the Jews had reestablished their sovereignty in Israel, Herzl reasoned, other nations of the world would accept the Jews as a normal people and anti-Semitism would cease.
Unfortunately, Herzl underestimated the human capacity for evil. Anti-Semitism was replaced by anti-Zionism and the Moslem world took up where Christian Europe left off. The Jewish pioneers who came to a poor, barren. rocky land to work and build a new home were met with hatred and hostility.
The Jews had never completely left the Land of Israel. All through the centuries Jews lived and prayed in Jerusalem and eked out a small livelihood in rural villages. After World War I, the British found themselves in control of Palestine. (The Romans renamed Israel after the Philistines in order to obliterate any record of the people who opposed their rule). That was 2100 years ago, and the Romans have been relegated to the dustbin of history. Israel, however, lives on. The British issued the Balfour Declaration welcoming the Jewish people to rebuild a "National Home" in Palestine. Unfortunately they did not cooperate with the Jews for very long.
The local Arab population began to grow rapidly, immigrating easily from the neighboring countries as the Jews began to develop the country, providing jobs and creating a modern infrastructure. The Arabs sold the Jews swamps, marshes, desert and rocky land and then complained when the useless lands were made fertile. The Arabs called the Jews, "the children of death" for attempting to farm in the malaria infested areas of the north. The Jewish pioneers (halutzim) treated the Land of Israel like a sick loved one, and carefully, painstakingly nursed it back to health. Swamps were drained, mosquitoes eradicated, irrigation systems developed, rocks picked up one by one to create and expose fertile land.
The Arabs, most of whom were recent immigrants from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, began to claim Palestine as their own. They launched bloody attacks on the peaceful, hardworking Jewish farmers. Hundreds of Jews were killed in the Arab riots of 1920-21, 1929, and 1936-39. Even the ancient Jewish community of Hebron was massacred, and the remnant expelled by the British. The Jewish community of Palestine (the Yishuv) learned a valuable lesson during these murderous years. A new generation of proud, self-reliant Jews grew up in Israel that not only defended themselves from attack, but exacted a heavy price from the enemy. The British, who at first had supported the establishment of the Jewish State, reverse their policy and backed the Arab drive to destroy the Zionist development of the Holy Land. Menachem Begin led the violent revolt against the British that led to their departure from Palestine, but he was in minority and was undercut by the Socialist Zionists led by David Ben Gurion.
In 1948, Ben Gurion, as leader of the largest party in the Yishuv, declared Israel's Independence before a crowd in Tel Aviv. Like the Maccabees in the bible, the new Israelis won great military victories and reestablished the new sovereign State of Israel in 1948. The armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq attacked the newly reborn Israel but were repulsed despite much sacrifice and loss of life.
A major change had taken place in Jewish history and few at the time understood it completely. Six million Jews had died in Hitler's gas chambers, or roughly nine out of every ten Jews under Nazi rule. The vastly outnumbered and out gunned Jews of Israel defeated their enemies decisively. With a population of 600,000 and losses of 6,000, the Israelis had a casualty rate of 1% compared to the Jews of Europe where losses were 90%. A military tradition was born, and decades of hostility reinforced an almost religious feeling about their army. In blood and fire was Israel born, and on a hot anvil was she forged. Her youth understood that life in the new Jewish homeland would require sacrifice. With stories of the stench of burning flesh from the ovens of Auschwitz embedded deep in their psyches, the young Israeli soldiers fought with the firm conviction that there was no alternative (ein breira).
Israel grew and prospered, taking in the remnants of European Jewry who survived the Holocaust. Nearly a million Jews, who had lived in Arab countries for over a thousand years, were forced to flee and found refuge in Israel. The Arab countries refused to make peace with their new neighbor, whose very declaration of independence extended the olive branch of peace. Instead of peacefulness, the Arabs launched an economic boycott. Instead of settling the Arab refugees caused by their war against Israel, they decided to use them as pawns in a never-ending war against the Jews. These poor people were instilled with hate for Israel and promised that they could return to their lost homes -- once the evil Jews had been destroyed.
Israel fought many wars and many more limited battles with the Arabs over the next 60 years. Most were short and very brutal, with an intensity of fire far surpassing that of World War II. Israel emerged victorious in every conflict, yet the Arabs still dreamed about a day when they would triumph and destroy Israel. The great victory of 1967 marked the beginning of a new era. Jerusalem was liberated as was the biblical heartland of Israel, i.e. Judea and Samaria. The huge expanse of Sinai, where the Israelites wandered during biblical times and fought great battles in their early years, was now in its hands. In its great flush of victory, Israel again extended the hand of peace to its neighbors -- and had it rejected in the Arab declaration at Khartoum, "no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and no recognition of Israel."
Some observers kept hoping for some kind of peace between the Arabs and the Israelis. The Egyptians under Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel (1978) and were rewarded with the return of the Sinai, plus generous American aid. The ink was not even dry on the treaty before the Egyptians began to violate almost every provision in it dealing with normalization of relations. A kind of non-belligerency or "cold peace" developed and the Israelis accepted it reluctantly. Then the "cold peace" turned into a "cold war."
The years came and went. Great changes occurred in the world. The Soviet Union broke up, partly due to the Jewish refuseniks, who demanded to go to Israel. Their resistance to Soviet oppression inspired others to demand freedom. Communism fell and Eastern Europe became free of Soviet control. Yugoslavia was torn by ethnic conflict and war as Moslims tried to secede from Christian Serbia. Iraq invaded Kuwait to seize its oil resources. America led a coalition of Arab and Western countries to defeat the Iraqis and rescue Kuwait. In the course of this conflict, called the Persian Gulf War, Iraq attacked Israel with 32 SCUD missiles. America forced Israel to sit on the sidelines and not retaliate. At the time the Americans made lots of promises of future political and military support, causing the Israeli government to accept a passive role for the first time in its conflict with the Arabs. The US reneged on all the promises! We didn't know it then, but this blow to Israel's deterrence led to the "Last Apocalypse," about which we will talk later.
Following the war with Iraq, United States President George Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker began a concerted push for Arab-Israeli peace talks. Israel welcomed the chance to meet its Arab enemies face to face and negotiate peace. They didn't know that during the war, Baker had promised the Arabs that once Iraq was defeated the US would force Israel to retreat from the defensible borders it won in the Six Day War of 1967. The Israeli government of Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir began the negotiations in a careful open fashion. His government was eager to reach a peace agreement with each Arab country, but rightly refused to consider Israel's territory as negotiable.
The Americans viewed Shamir as an obstacle to their plan to dismember Israel and began to plot his overthrow. At this time, the Israelis were rapidly developing uninhabited and desolate land areas in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews were leaving the Soviet Union to settle in Israel. The demography began to shift in favor of the Jews in many of these areas. During the Gulf War, Israel was promised aid by America to settle the Jewish immigrants. Now Bush and Baker began to implement their plan to defeat Shamir. The promised loan guarantees ($10 billion) were denied to Shamir for over a year, ostensibly because of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. America tried to place conditions on the guarantees that no self-respecting country would accept. Shamir refused to back down on the right of Jews to settle in every corner of the country without discrimination.
The Labor Party, headed by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, won the elections of 1992, thanks to his promise to deliver the guarantees. The US made it clear that if the Israelis elected Rabin, the money would be forthcoming.
Rabin ran on a policy of pursuing peace with security. He pledged never to negotiate with the PLO. Rabin also promised to accommodate US foreign policy goals by sacrificing Israel's right to build in Judea and Samaria. He was elected by a small margin. His government was filled with many left-wing Israelis anxious for peace at any price with the Arabs. Buoyed by American support, including the loan guarantees, Rabin and Peres pushed quickly for an agreement with the Arabs. The Americans made it clear to the Arabs that this was the best possible time to make a deal with Israel -- one which might never come again.
The Arabs, of course, had their own agenda. Knowing that they could not defeat Israel militarily from the present borders, they moved quickly to negotiate with Rabin's government. Peres, with his aide Yossi Beilin, did most of the negotiating with the PLO terrorists. This, by the way, was in violation of an Israeli law forbidding talks with terrorists. Playing on the Israeli yearning for peace, they promised everything in exchange for a return to the 1967 borders. The result was the infamous Oslo Accords which acknowledged the legitimacy of Arab claims to Israel - including Jerusalem - and agreed to divide the country. The Arab side was represented by PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) terrorist Yassir Arafat. There was violent opposition in Israel among the Zionist/religious community to such a plan. Rabin was unable to convince a majority of Jewish Israelis that "peace" was worth "any price". By depending on the votes of Arab (pro-PLO) Knesset members, the Oslo sellout was passed by a small margin in the Knesset.
The Freeman Center For Strategic Studies issued the following press release on September 2, 1993, Jewish Herald-Voice (Houston):
Freeman Center Says Rush To Embrace PLO Is Foolish And Ultimately Dangerous
....nothing more than an elaborate trap for Israel? Asserting that the rush to embrace the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is both foolish and ultimately dangerous, the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies has declared: "The pro-Israel community should react with extreme caution to the moves in Jerusalem to recognize the PLO."
The Freeman Center director also said: "The proposed Gaza-Jericho plan worked out between Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and representatives of the PLO, a terrorist organization, is nothing more than an elaborate trap for Israel. We should not forget that the PLO has violated and trampled on every agreement it has ever made during its nearly 30-year history. This includes agreements and solemn pledges made to the Arab governments of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, as well as the United States and the United Nations."
According to the Freeman Center, the PLO instituted a reign of terror, rape and murder locally as well as attacks on Israel from the two Arab countries where it gained a kind of self rule.
He continued "Despite the media hype surrounding these developments, let me make something very clear: A leopard does not change its spots. You can say a berachah (blessing) over a ham sandwich, but that doesn't make it kosher. And a deal with the PLO is like a dance on quicksand - before you realize it, you have sunk into the muck and slime."
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres and PLO chief Yassir Arafat received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993. Here and there voices were raised expressing doubts as to the viability of the peace arrangements (Oslo). Jews who didn't trust the Arabs were ostracized as extremist and war-mongers. Most Israelis were happy and looked forward to peaceful relations with their neighbors. Israeli businessmen were planning massive programs to penetrate the Arab markets. Tour operators and hotel managers made plans for Saudi, Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian travelers.
And then the first clue that something was amiss.
Rabin was assassinated by a young law student after being incited by members of Israel's Shin Bet (secret service) who were involved in dirty tricks to discredit the Zionist/religious community. Peres took over the country briefly, and then in 1996 Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was elected in an upset victory. He had promised to conduct a new policy that would either end Oslo or modify it to preserve security. Unfortunately, once in office he tried but failed to keep his promises to the Israelis who elected him. The result was disastrous as you shall see.
The Palestinians set up their mini terror state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Israelis continued to suffer from daily terrorist attacks. The number of murdered and maimed Jews grew to alarming proportions. In the next election, Israelis elected the Labor Party candidate, General Ehud Barak, who had promised to make peace with the Arabs.
The stage was set for a repeat of the Oslo fiasco. US President Bill Clinton brought Barak and terrorist leader Arafat to Camp David in 2000. Barak offered Arafat over 90% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza plus half of Jerusalem - including the Temple Mount. Arafat turned down the offer, since he was required to end the conflict with Israel. His goal, as it was with all the Arabs since 1948, was the destruction of Israel and its replacement with "Palestine," and then the extermination of all the Jews.
In the new Israeli elections of 2001, Ariel Sharon's Likud won a massive victory over the Labor Party. The veteran tough military leader promised to return security to Israelis and crush the terrorists. He also promised never to abandon Jewish settlements, including those in Gaza, as his opponent from Labor wished to do. However after hs landslide election, Sharon made a 180% turn and adopted the appeasement policies of Labor. He mobilized the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in a massive military-style campaign to expel the Jews of Gaza and the Northern Shomron. Sharon totally destroyed a very successful Israeli agricultural community and ripped the heart from the Zionist/religious public. Demonstrations, public opinion and civil disobedience failed to stop this brutal crime against the Jewish People. The Israeli government, police, media, internal security services and the judicial system were used to crush free discussion of the dangers of appeasement of terrorism.
The Labor Party gave Sharon the parliamentary majority necessary carry out this evil plan. Once the Jews had been expelled, Labor elected a new leader to replace Peres. The new head was Peretz (a radical leader of the Histadrut (federation of Israeli labor unions). Peretz promised to bring down the Sharon government and seek new elections. His platform was more of the "Oslo" appeasement of terrorists. He even wanted to bring the very same Arabs who wished to destroy Israel into his government should he win the election.
The new Labor Party leader immediately took his party out of the government coalition, saying Labor's purpose for being in the government had been to destroy the prosperous Jewish communities of Gaza, and now that was completed. Now he wanted new elections to create an extreme pro-Arab Israeli government that would complete the job of destroying the Zionist enterprise.
After Labor left Sharon's coalition, the Knesset voted to disperse and call for new elections in 2006. Realizing that his home base in the Likud had been shattered by his ideological reversals and anti-democratic behavior, Sharon quit the Likud to form a new party. He hoped to form an extreme left-wing party with his ally in the destruction of Israel, Shimon Peres. The world community and media mistakenly called his new party a centrist party and said that it gave hope for the continuation of the "peace process." Of course, David, now we know that the so-called peace process was just "smoke and mirrors." It was a hoax, a scam to deprive the Jewish People of their inheritance of Eretz Yisrael. "Land for Peace" meant Land for Terrorism, the erasure of Israel from the map of the Middle East and its replacement with 'palestine' (an IslamoNazi terrorist state dedicated to finishing Hitler's extermination of the Jewish People).
A new Zionist/Religious coalition did win the election of 2006 by a landslide. The government tried to repair the damage caused by the extreme left during the previous 13 years (since Oslo 1993).It failed, of course, as Oslo had had a fatal effect on Israeli security.
The new Prime Minister tried to make peace with Israel's neighbors to avert war. Syria and Israel signed a formal Peace Treaty and Israel agreed to give up control of the Golan Heights. Israel then withdrew from the Golan, which was de-militarized. All the great powers congratulated the Americans for bringing peace to the Middle East.
The Palestinians had agreed to peace only when the Israeli PM agreed to dismantle the Jewish settlements in the territories and to give up control of Jerusalem. Jews who had settled in the Israeli heartland of Judea and Samaria openly rebelled. The full might of the Israeli army crushed the revolt in a bloody civil war. Jews killed Jews and the Arabs rejoiced.
Over ten Palestinian terrorist organizations had objected to the agreement with Israel. They were supposed to disband and become political parties in the new Palestinian state. They didn't, and soon Israel was being harassed by dozens of daily attacks. The new PA leader, who had signed the peace treaty with Israel, openly sided with the terrorists. His Palestinian Authority army, set up under the Oslo Accords to control terror, became an active participant in the battle against Israel. A Katyusha rocket here, a land mine there, armed incursions and finally an El Al plane was shot down approaching Lod airport with 356 passengers.
The world was horrified, but then they never really objected too much about dead Jews. The Israeli reaction was, of course much stronger and led to the Great Apocalypse.