Following last week’s centenary of the conference where Israel’s ‘earthly deed’ was signed, it is vital that we continue to run with it until we have scored as many points as possible in key target areas – including government, schools and universities.
As we have re-stated in a series of articles, Israel’s right to the land they now occupy – including the disputed territories – gained international legal status on April 26, 1920, at a beautiful Italian Riviera resort (now known as Sanremo) following a week-long meeting of World War I victors represented by Britain, France, Italy and Japan.
It was subsequently hailed by Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann as “perhaps the most momentous political event in the whole history of our [Zionist] movement and in the whole history of our people since the exile”.
Former British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon called it the ‘Magna Charta’ of the Jewish state and current Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote last week: “One of the seeds of the olive tree that came to symbolize the modern state of Israel was planted in Sanremo”.
A special 100-year celebration organised by the European Coalition for Israel was to have been held there last weekend but unfortunately got ‘buried’ in the bad news of the coronavirus outbreak. However, we were treated to a most helpful hour-long programme aired on Revelation TV.
It was encouraging to hear of widespread support from leaders around the world. But it is imperative that we build on the foundations laid by this anniversary as Sanremo is still little known even among Christians – let alone politicians, journalists and the general public.
As politicians and educationists saw the vital need for incorporating Holocaust lessons into the school curriculum, so Sanremo should have become deeply embedded into our national psyche.
But the resolution got locked away in the war archives, only to be long forgotten and ignored. Since it focuses on Israel’s international legitimacy, regular reminders could well have prevented the emergence of later claims to the land that have led to so much bloodshed.
As Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold told Sunday’s programme: “One hundred years ago it was clear as day that the restoration of the Jewish home was supported by most of the countries of the world.”
But this undeniable fact was hidden away in a darkened room instead of being brought into the light. As the gospel says with reference to Jesus, “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3.19) And we have paid a heavy price for that.
I am reminded of General Eisenhower’s reaction when, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces at the end of World War II, he came across the horror of Hitler’s death camps and insisted that photographs be taken so that future generations would not be tempted to deny that such things happened, as many have since done.
In the same way, many have denied Israel’s legitimacy because no-one took the trouble to ensure it was regularly brought into the full glare of political debate. European Coalition for Israel founder Tomas Sandell said that even the Japanese had now found a copy of the original resolution in their archives.
I know the COVID crisis is absorbing most of our thoughts, but we must keep up the pressure on our leaders not to settle for a ‘two-state solution’, but to recognise Israel’s right to all the land from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan, as agreed at Sanremo.
There is an even greater goal in view, however. As abundant rains have filled the Sea of Galilee to overflowing, we pray for the ultimate blessing of a spiritual outpouring on Israel. The Bible speaks clearly of a twofold restoration for the chosen people – first to their ancestral land, and then to their Lord and Messiah. (See Ezek 36.26, Jer 31.33)
Zechariah refers to a time when a spirit of grace and supplication will be poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem and “they will look on (or to) me, the one they have pierced…” (Zech 12.10) And Paul tells the Romans of a time, perhaps linked to this, when “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11.26)3
We are now seeing congregations of believers emerging all over the land, with Arabs also finding Jesus and, through him, being reconciled with their Jewish brethren – the genuine Middle East peace process.
As I write, Jewish believers are reaching out on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with the message of the Messiah who died for their sins. We can support their efforts – through prayer, finance and general encouragement – by getting in touch with the many organisations committed to this including Prayer for Israel, the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ), Maoz and Jews for Jesus.
The gospel is “to the Jew first” (Rom 1.16), which means they should still be our priority. Showing them kindness, especially by sharing our love for their Messiah, will have a rippling effect in fruitfulness.
I think of the testimony of Al Fadi, a former Muslim jihadist from Saudi Arabia, who was determined to die for Allah because he saw it as his only guarantee of salvation.
Fortunately, he was diverted from that path and went to study in America, though still with the intention of converting his hosts to Islam. A Christian family showed him exceptional kindness as they steered him through the cultural and language barriers he faced which planted a seed that germinated years later when he committed his life to Jesus. He is now speaking of Christ to millions of Muslims in the Middle East through the broadcasting media.
In the Bible, we read how “an act of kindness shown to a cripple” (Acts 4.9) spread the message of Jesus throughout Jerusalem and the world. The same Bible commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122.6). And not just politically, but spiritually: for there is no greater peace than knowing Jesus.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International