Friday, 10 August 2007

The Case for Israel

this just came in the mail from a colleague. an interesting piece written about the modern nation of israel in the light of what transpired historically between the arabs and Israel as well as put into the light of our local malaysian politics.

incidentlally, last weekend, i was teaching on this topic of 'Israel: Then and Now' in grace presbyterian church batu pahat. i traced the history of the coming of the nation of Israel and through the turbulent times of the diaspora until the creation of the modern state of Israel. there were many opportunities for both arabs and israel to work together to create a joint state side by side but often than not, one side or both sides rejected the offer to come and work together. maybe i should do some postings from that seminar on this blog since it is concerned about Israel.


07/08: The Case for Israel
Category: General
Posted by: Raja Petra

By Johan Zawawi

The Israel-Palestinian conflict continues to be a grievance, particularly for Muslims (and many Malaysians as well), and as a cause for their loathing and mistrust of the West and so-called ‘infidels’ in general. Bin Laden and countless other Islamic terrorists have used this seemingly intractable conflict to justify their various atrocities. In fact, Israel, a.k.a. the “Zionist Entity” has become something of a bogeyman and all-purpose scapegoat to be blamed for every problem in the Muslim world. Is all this hysteria justified?

Let’s consider the historical evidence. For about the fourteenth time since the Jews first took control of the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea over 3,000 years ago, there was a change of management in that area when the state of Israel was established by the United Nations in 1947. Like many Arab nations, Israel was created out of bits and pieces of the old Ottoman Empire. This led to a series of spectacularly bad decisions by Arab and other Muslim governments. For example, because the Jews were not Muslims (although many are, at least according to their DNA, “Arabs”), it became and remains official policy in most Muslim nations to deny that Israel exists or, failing that, to deny that it has a right to exist. Malaysia is, sadly, no different in this regard.

But Arab malfeasance in regards to Israel didn’t stop there, not by a long shot. Although the UN tried to peacefully broker the creation of Israel, Arab nations misjudged their own power and told Arabs in Israel to flee their homes, so that the Arab armies could come in and kill all the Jews. When that brilliant plan didn't work out, the Arabs refused to absorb the 600,000 Arab refugees, and continue to this day to treat (actually, mistreat) them as refugees. Why else would Palestinians be living in walled-off ‘refugee camps’ in places like northern Lebanon for more than fifty years? At the same time, the Arabs expelled 600,000 Jews who had been living amongst them for centuries. Most of these Jews went to Israel, became Israelis, and prospered.

In 1967 and 1973, Arab nations again believed that they could gang up on Israel and destroy it, but this had the same ignominious result as the 1947 war. After 1973, Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel, and have benefited greatly from it. But consider, if the Arabs had not fled Israel in 1947, Arabs would now be the majority in a democracy. If the Arabs had not attacked in 1967, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza would be run by Arabs today. What a difference a little clear thinking can make—but clear thinking has never been a strong suit of the Arabs.

Sixty years of failure is, perhaps, finally beginning to sink in—at least a little. The Arab League has for the first time this summer sent an official delegation to Israel. This is the direct result of many Arab countries that no longer consider Israel a “problem,” but rather more of an asset. Islamic terrorism is generally accepted to be a problem, even though, or perhaps because, it is so popular with many Arabs. There are numerous problems in the Middle East, and the smartest Arabs now recognise that the cause is not Israel.

Reform-minded Arabs are now pretty blunt about blaming Arab themselves for the lack of good government, or economic and scientific progress in the region. Many Arabs note that over half of Israel's population is “Arab” (either Israeli Arab or Israelis of Middle Eastern origin), and this has not prevented Israel from building a working democracy and thriving, technologically advanced economy--without a single drop of oil income to boot. An increasing number of Arabs are asking, “why not us?”

On the other hand, the Palestinian Arabs are increasingly seen, by clear-thinking Arabs and Muslims, as a bunch of self-destructive screw-ups who can’t do anything right. As Israeli diplomat Abba Eban once said famously, “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Even the Arabs seem to be at last waking up to this fact. Arab support for the Palestinian Arabs is increasingly just for show, and the show is coming to an end.

This is a unique situation in world history, and even normally pro-Muslim officials at the UN point out that, well, the so-called ‘Zionist Entity’ exists and everyone should get used to it. One wonders if the UMNO regime will ever get the message. Don’t hold your breath.


Monday, 6 August 2007

at batu pahat grace presbyterian church

just back from speaking in grace presbyterian church batu pahat. this was my second time speaking in the church, the last being 3 years ago. i went down on saturday morning, getting in early to have a rest before the night session which was on the topic 'Israel: Then and Now'. I was asked to share how we can understnd the role Israel plays today. Is 'Israel' the same as it was during biblical times? How has it changed? Can we argue that there is a line of continuity from the biblical Israel to the modern state of Israel?

tehre were over 50 people attending in the small fellowship room. we started with singing at 8.15pm before i took over at 8.40pm. the group wanted to learn a hebrew song, so i taught them Dayenu (It would be sufficient), a popular Hebrew song sung at the passover meal. then i shared with them on the agreed topic. we ended the session with many questions asked. i was told usually similar sessions would end without any questions but i guess this topic of Israel usually evokes different responses from the audience. we ended past 10.45pm. someone commented that they could sit on through the night if i had continued on speaking. i had prepared 2 sets of ppt presentations with the second topic related to the first. anyway it was a good meeting generally.

the next day, i shared from the pulpit on isaiah 40:1-11, 27-31. the church is having different outside speakers invited to share on the book of isaiah. the cell groups in the church are also working through the book of isaiah. i was given the passage from chapter 40 which happens to contain my favourite verse from the Bible - Isaiah 40:31! generally, the congregation was appreciative of the sermon as it touched on many issues related to their church life and present struggles which they were going through.

so, the invitation is already given - come back next year, and don't wait for another threee years like the last time. well, they'll work out a topic for me to share. this time , the majority wanted an extra friday night session to go with the saturday session! that means more work and preparation. but anytime sharing on the OT is not a problem for the reb. that's my passion!