Andrew Lothian, Zion Hill Christian Community, 13 July 2014
Israel is under threat – not just from Hamas and Iran but from a wider world-wide
movement to de-legitimise her very existence. We read and hear a lot about this in
Jerusalem, in the papers and in discussion with others.
What is de-legitimisation ?
It’s the process of creating a situation in which a group of people are excluded from
society. The Nazis treatment of Jews in the 1930s was de-legitimisation. They
ceased being a legitimate part of society and were not even regarded as human.
Now anti-Semitism is attempting to do this at the national scale – isolating Israel and
seeking to remove the basis of its legal, moral and political legitimacy.
Before looking at this, what is the basis of Israel’s legitimacy?
We can see this from God’s viewpoint and from a human viewpoint.
In Genesis 12:7 God first promised the land to Abraham: The Lord said to Abram,
“To your seed I will give this land.”
This was reaffirmed in Genesis 13:14 – 17:
14 The Lord said to Abram …, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
Later because of sin, God exiled His people from the land and they were taken to
Babylon from where, 70 years later, a few returned. But God made it abundantly
clear that He would return His people to the land.
In a passage which is used as the prayer for the State of Israel and which is recited
on the Jewish Shabbat and holidays in synagogues in Israel and around the world,
in Deuteronomy 30:4 – 5 Moses prophesised:
4 Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. 5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.
There are many other references to God returning His people to the land He had
Ezekiel 20:41-42: 41 I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will be proved holy through you in the sight of the nations. 42 Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your ancestors.
So it is clear that in God’s eyes, Israel is perfectly legitimate in returning to the land
he had promised to them around 4,000 years ago.
But about human eyes?
Beginning in the 1880s, the Jewish National Fund (founded 1901) bought land in
Palestine (as it was then), mostly from absentee landowners in Lebanon and also
from Palestinian Arab landholders. Most of the land was along the coastal plain,
Jezreel Valley and upper Jordan Valley and in the Galilee region. Land was also
purchased in Jerusalem.
Map of land purchases by Jewish National Fund as at 31 March, 1945
Modern Israel’s legal legitimacy as a nation stems from the agreements reached by
the Allies at the end of the First World War.
The San Remo Conference in April, 1920 was attended by the prime ministers of
Great Britain, France and Italy and by representatives of other nations. Conference
resolutions determined the allocation of League of Nations mandates for former
Ottoman-ruled lands. On 25 April, 1920 the San Remo Resolution incorporated the
Balfour Declaration of 1917. The Mandate extended from the Jordan River to the
Mediterranean Sea and included Galilee but not the Golan Heights.
[Insert map:] Mandate for Palestine given to Great Britain
Together with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations these comprised
the basic documents upon which the British Mandate for Palestine was constructed.
The Resolution read: “The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the
declaration originally made on November 8, 1917, by the British Government, and
adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a
national home for the Jewish people…”
The mandates of the Allied Powers were intended to remain until the territories could
Many people believe that Israel came about because of the Holocaust but actually
the impetus for its establishment predated this by several decades.
Britain held the mandate for 25 years, from 29 Sept 1923 to midnight of 14 May 1948
when the State of Israel was proclaimed.
During the 1930s and 1940s, in response to Arab uprisings against the Jews,
partition plans were drawn up to divide the land between the Jews and Arabs. After
the Second World War, the United Nations drew up a partition plan which allocated
parts of Judea and Samaria to the Arabs along with Gaza and an area east of Acre
in the north with the rest allocated to the Jews including the Negev to the Red Sea at
Eilat. Jerusalem would be under International control.
UN Partition Plan
The Partition Plan was accepted reluctantly by the Jewish Agency but was rejected
by Arab governments who opposed any form of territorial division.
On 29 November 1947, the plan was voted on by the UN General Assembly and
passed by 33 nations to 13 opposing with 10 abstentions (including Britain). Australia
was one of the first to vote in favour.
On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist
Organization and President of the Jewish Agency, declared “the establishment of a
Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” a state independent
upon the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine, 15 May 1948.
This was a literal fulfilment of Is 66:8: Can a country be born in a day or a nation be
brought forth in a moment?
The next day, five Arab armies invaded Israel. Since 1948, Israel has had four wars
with Arab armies – in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. In addition there have been
various wars of attrition (e.g. 1967 – 70), the Lebanon wars, and the first and second
Intifada launched by Palestinians against Israel.
All the wars were started by Arab nation’s intent on destroying Israel. In every war,
Israel was vastly outnumbered by the Arab armies and their equipment.
[Insert map:] 1948 War of Independence – Invasion by five Arab armies
[Insert map:] Israel post 1948 War of Independence
• The 1948 War of Independence was fought against the armies of Egypt, Syria,
Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.
• In the 6-day war in 1967, Israel’s soldiers were outnumbered 5 to 1. (On the 7th
day the Lord rested!)
• In the Yom Kippur War (1973) when Arab nations attacked Israel on its holiest
day of the year, Israel’s tanks were outnumbered two to one.
However each of the wars resulted in victory for Israel and expanded its borders.
Truly the Lord was on Israel’s side.
[Insert map:] Palestinian view of loss of land
So we can see that the State of Israel is legitimate, both from God’s viewpoint and
from the human viewpoint. The Arab nations do not accept this, and increasingly,
Israel’s legitimacy is being questioned internationally.
What is the current situation ?
Today Israel is facing an international program of de-legitimization, firstly by falsely
equating it with the Apartheid South Africa, and secondly by the Boycott, Divestment
and Sanction campaign. Holocaust denial is another symptom of the
de-legitimization campaign. Stephen Harper, the Canadian PM, has said it’s popular
today to be anti-Israel.
Since the end of the 2nd Intifada in 2005 the Palestinians have appeared to give up
suicide bombings in preference for international pressure on Israel. While suicide
bombings and other acts of violence are crude, the international pressure is of an
intellectual origin and can be far more dangerous to Israel. This is why it is essential
that we understand what is happening.
Firstly the charge that Israel is an apartheid state. Apartheid in South Africa separated
people by colour into segregated residential areas with over 3.5 m non-whites forcibly
moved. Non-whites had no political representation and were deprived of citizenship.
All government services – education, health, and even beaches were segregated.
None of these factors applies in Israel. Arabs and Jews can regularly be seen in the
same shopping centres, cinemas, and parks. The Arabs were not forcibly moved to
Judea and Samaria, and there are many Israeli Arabs who are citizens of Israel –
and who refuse to take on Palestinian citizenship. Israeli Arabs have the vote
although many choose not to vote. Thirteen of the 120 members of the Knesset are
Arab-Israelis. Arab-Israelis are exempt from compulsory military service.
There are 1.65 million Israeli Arabs, about 20% of the population. About 9% of them
are Christian, there are some Druze, and the rest are Moslem. A survey in 2000 found
that 83% of the Arab-Israelis preferred to live in Israel rather than a Palestinian State.
A 2004 survey found that 85% of Arab Israelis believed that Israel had the right to exist
as an independent state.
[Insert map:] Sign in London street
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was started in 2005 by 171
Palestinian NGOs based loosely on the boycotts of South Africa during the Apartheid
era. BDS aims at ending the “occupation of Arab lands”, removing the security wall,
giving Arab- Palestinians citizens of Israel full rights, and enabling Palestinian
refugees to return – the right of return.
Boycotts involve refusing to buy products that come from Israel or Judea and
Samaria (West Bank). It extends to refusing to participate with Israel in academic
and cultural collaborations. The Rolling Stones were recently pressured not to hold a
concert in Israel. A group called Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
have promoted boycotting companies doing business in Israel.
[Insert map:] Logo of the BDS movement
Divestment means selling shares in Israeli companies and the superannuation funds
of universities have been particularly targeted. The European Union is prohibiting
imports from factories in settlements within Judea and Samaria, many of which
employ Palestinians who will be affected. The Canadian United Church has divested
shares in companies doing business with Israel.
The Presbyterian Church in the US voted on 20 June 2014 to divest from companies
doing business with Israel, companies that help Israel protect itself from terrorists
entering from the West Bank checkpoints. The issue of Israel, the only democracy in
the Middle East, was more important to the Church than the widespread killing of
civilians, including Christians, across the Middle East and parts of Africa.
Sanctions seek to prohibit Israel’s participation in diplomatic, economic and cultural
events and to seek legal sanctions against Israel. Resolutions of the United Nations
against Israel are an example.
Both the previous and current Australian Government has promised to cut off federal
grants for individuals and institutions that support the BDS campaign. The BDS
movement is particularly active among universities, trade unions, student unions and
What about the Palestinian Refugees?
The Palestinian refugees stem from the 1948 War of Independence when five Arab
armies invaded the newly established Israel and were defeated. Many of the Arabs
fled because they were told by the Arab commanders to leave while the Jews were
dealt with and then they could return. They never did. Some believe that the Jews
told them to get out. Historians disagree on the reasons for them leaving. It is
probable that in some areas, the Israeli Army expelled the Arabs and in other areas
they left of their own accord.
In 1949, the United Nations set up the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). There are several features which distinguish
the UNRWA from the UN Refugee Agency which looks after 34.5 million refugees
around the world.
Firstly it is only UN agency dedicated to help refugees from a specific region – they
only aid Palestinian refugees.
Secondly it defines refugees, not by the usual criteria or those who fled a conflict, but
to also include their descendants through to the present day. This keeps UNRWA
going in perpetuity. There were originally around 652,000 Arab refugees whose
numbers have dwindled to about 30 – 40,000 today but the refugees now number 5
million – all their descendants. They are all living off the UN. Its latest budget was
nearly $2 billion.
Thirdly they are the world’s oldest unsettled refugee population.
Fourthly, 50% of the refugees are within the Palestinian territories which, according
to the criteria of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) are internally
Fifthly, while the average assistance under the UNHCR is $83 per person, UNRWA
spend $174/person (2006).
One of the demands the Palestinians make in every peace negotiation is the “right of
return” of all Palestinian refugees. Obviously if this meant the original inhabitants,
that would be acceptable. But to admit 5 million would pose a major strategic and
demographic risk to Israel, quite apart from the sheer task of building housing and
infrastructure to accommodate them.
[Insert map:] Separation barrier near Bethany
The Separation Barrier was built in response to the bombings that occurred during
the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2004 when Israel pulled out of Gaza. Many
bombings of buses, restaurants and public places resulted in many hundreds of
Israeli deaths and injuries. The Israeli Government decided that in order to protect its
citizens, a physical barrier was required.
Although the media concentrate on the wall section of the barrier, which is up to 8 m
in height, this comprises only 5% of its length. The remaining 95% comprises wire
fences with patrol roads on both sides. The wall prevents snipers from neighbouring
Arab towns firing into Israeli towns. The wall has been built adjacent to areas where
known terrorists originated from. Since the barrier was established, bombings and
terrorist attacks within Israel have virtually ceased.
Other de-legitimisation actions
The 2001 World Conference against Racism (WCAR), known as Durban I, was held
in September 2001. The United States and Israel withdrew from the conference over
objections to a draft document equating Zionism with racism. The conference was
held in the week before the 9/11 attacks in the US.
The United Nations General Assembly has passed many resolutions against Israel.
A UK Study of such resolutions from 1990 to 2003 found that while they vaguely
mentioned Palestinian suicide bombers they explicitly detailed violence against the
As an example, the 2006/07 session adopted 61 country-specific resolutions, 21 of
which focused on and unfairly criticized Israel.
[Insert map:] UN General Assembly resolutions against Israel
The UN Human Rights Council, established in 2006, has passed more resolutions
condemning Israel than the rest of the world combined. It has been condemned by
45 resolutions, almost half all country-specific resolutions.
The Norwegian Refugee Council has mounted “lawfare” against Israel by
bombarding Israeli courts with 700 cases dealing with land, housing and property
claims. Funded by the EU, UK and Norway to tune of $20 million, the real purpose
according to a lawyer working on the cases is to use “every possible legal measure
to disrupt the Israeli judicial system … to increase the workload of the courts and the
Supreme Court to such an extent that there will be a blockage.” Imagine if the British
Government found that the German or French Governments were funding the IRA in
Ireland with millions of euros to file hundreds of lawsuits in British courts.
In 1949, China invaded Tibet, in 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and in 1975 Morocco
invaded Western Sahara. Each invader took over the country or part of it. Yet while
resolutions before the UN consistently condemn Israel for “occupying” Judea and
Samaria after being attacked by Arab armies, when does one hear of these other
actions being condemned?
In conclusion, Israel faces significant threats from within – from missiles and violence
from the Palestinians, but also from without – from the international community. The
threat from within Israel can handle, having had decades of experience. But the
threats from outside, the BDS movement, Holocaust denial and the equating Israel
with Apartheid can potentially pose a bigger threat.
We know that in the last days, all nations will come against Israel and the signs are
there that this is happening, just a Zechariah prophesised (Zech 14):
2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be
captured, the houses ransacked …
3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a
day of battle.
4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and
the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley,
with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one
LORD, and his name the only name.
11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.