There is a tired old joke among journalists about never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. But it is meant to be a joke, not reality.
However, it would seem that media, educational and political circles are now taking it seriously, effectively adopting this line as their modus operandi.
As a result, many of our great institutions have become a sick joke – I am thinking particularly of the United Nations – and the British Parliament, for example, is totally confused over what it is supposed to believe about Israel.
First, Britain backed a UN resolution effectively denying historic Jewish links to much of the Holy Land including the Temple Mount and Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site. This in spite of the wealth of biblical and archaeological evidence supporting Jewish ties with Jerusalem going back some 3,500 years while Islam, which now claims these holy places for itself, only came on the scene in the 7th century AD.
Now there is further confusion as the British House of Commons this week opened a travelling UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) exhibition on Judaism’s 3,500-year ties to the Holy Land. (Apparently the original exhibition title referred to Israel, but this has been changed out of political correctness).
So, just two days before Christmas, the British Government did not believe Israel had such historic ties to this much-contested land. But now, apparently, they do.
However, the UK Parliament has now passed a motion condemning further Israeli ‘settlements’ in the so-called ‘occupied’ West Bank as “contrary to international law”, thus ignoring historic – and legal – documents, and contradicting the very exhibition they have agreed to host.
The San Remo agreement of 1920 confirmed Britain in its role (as outlined in the Balfour Declaration of 1917) to facilitate the immigration of Jews to the land including Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). As February’s Parliamentary vote was unanimous, one has to ask if any of our MPs are aware of the documents – never mind the biblical and archaeological evidence, and the exhibition itself.
Amazingly, it is the settlement issue that is seen by most politicians as the main barrier to peace (despite the murderous threats against Israel from Iran and its proxies) when the facts tell quite another story. Both San Remo and Balfour charged Britain with the duty to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement in the territory which then included Transjordan (now Jordan). The San Remo resolution has never been abrogated – in fact the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan also derive from the same international agreement.
As I have said before, Britain is plagued by moral confusion, partly through the ineffectiveness of the church which once led the nation in terms of influence and authority. The Balfour Declaration itself, 100 years old later this year, was agreed by David Lloyd-George’s ten-strong War Cabinet mostly made up of evangelical (i.e. Bible-believing) Christians.
Jesus’ warning to the once thriving church at Ephesus surely applies to us now: “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Revelation 2.5)
Another example of substituting facts with fiction is the Israel Apartheid Week currently being staged on university campuses in Britain. Many of these institutions were once icons of learning and free speech envied by the rest of the world, but they have become hotbeds of anti-Semitism.
While few come to the aid of the Christians and others being butchered across a largely oppressive Middle East, ignorant young students vent their fury on the region’s only democracy – where, incidentally, Arabs have the same rights as Jews (and yet Jews are banned from many Arab states).
Israel is also a place where women enjoy equality, unlike much of the Arab world where women do not have the same rights as men. I have written about this issue at length in other places. But trust me; I grew up in apartheid South Africa, and have twice visited Israel which bears no resemblance to the culture in which I was nurtured.
Thankfully, the University of Central Lancashire has cancelled its event following a campaign by Christians United for Israel UK to persuade the authorities concerned that they would be breaking the law by offending Jewish students. So Islamic theologian Farid Esack will not now be addressing students there, but he is still expected to speak at other campuses.
There are 1.6 million Arabs living in Israel. And yet Mahmoud Abbas (the Palestinian Authority leader) will not allow any Jews to live in his proposed state of ‘Palestine’. So who’s practicing apartheid?
Jesus reserved some of his strongest criticism for hypocrites, who sought to extract a speck of sawdust from their brother’s eye while all the time paying no attention to the plank in their own. (Matthew 7.4)
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com