The battle lines for truth are once more being drawn up as anti-Israel propaganda takes centre-stage on our university campuses.
At the same time, the Jewish state faces further uncertainty with its third national election within a year while Democrat presidential candidates are trading insults with opponents as they seek to topple Donald Trump in the forthcoming U.S. election. Who is telling the truth? Who can be trusted?
In France, meanwhile – host to the largest Jewish community in Europe – anti-Semitic incidents have reached record levels.
What is it about Israel and the Jewish people that draws so much flak and poison? The answer goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Eve, and then Adam, disobeyed God by tasting the forbidden fruit which turned out to be poisonous. For it brought sin into the world, and we are still suffering the consequences. But it was through the Jewish people that God chose to bring the Messiah, who would “crush [the] head” of Satan (Gen 3.15) and overcome the power of sin.
Satan, disguised as a serpent, put doubt into the minds of our ancestors with his leading question, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Gen 3.1)? And he is still using that tactic today in the debate over truth covering every area of human activity, including the age-old battle over Israel’s Promised Land.
Various UK campuses are this month planning to stage their own version of Israel Apartheid Week which, as the title suggests, is meant to convey an image of Jews and Arabs living out completely separate lives in Israel – a wholly false impression as many who have visited the land will tell you. In truth, they mingle together on the streets and in the markets, on the buses and trains, in the courts of justice (including Arab judges), and in the hospitals, parks and playgrounds. Even in parliament (the Knesset), Arab MKs are free to voice their opposition to government policy.
Such was never the case when I was growing up in apartheid South Africa, and to make this comparison is an insult to those who suffered under the system during that era. There were buses, benches and toilets reserved for ‘whites only’ – hospitals even had separate washing facilities for white and Asian doctors – and black people were consigned to remote and unproductive areas known as Bantustans, having to carry passes to enable them to work in the ‘white’ cities.
The only apparent similarity with apartheid South Africa surrounds the so-called ‘two-state solution’ – the political goal supported by all the major powers. It is because of this that thousands of Palestinians from the supposedly occupied ‘West Bank’ are forced to pass through tight security each day in order to seek work in Israel. But the walls constructed around their territories were designed to keep out suicide bombers, not workers. And it has worked well in significantly reducing terrorist attacks.
The whole sorry saga is the bitter fruit of poisonous propaganda badly handled by the international community. The Apartheid Week is a hostile campaign to delegitimise and demonise Israel. But the unpalatable truth is that the entire territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River was legally assigned to the Jewish people through an international treaty signed at San Remo, Italy, 100 years ago next month.
The major allied powers, including Britain represented by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, had met to decide on allocation of Middle East land in the wake of the upheavals created by World War I. But it was never meant to come to this, with bits of ‘Palestinian’ territory here and there while politicians are forced to spar over rights to build.
Yes, there was Arab opposition back then, but an attempt to solve this problem was made by Winston Churchill when, in 1922, he effected a ‘two-state solution’ by lopping off a huge swathe of land originally intended for Jews for Arab ownership. This became known as Trans-Jordan (now simply Jordan).
It was no doubt well intended, for Churchill was always a friend of Israel, but the Arabs were still not happy, which is why the United Nations offered a ‘Partition Plan’ in 1947, further dividing and reducing Israeli territory in clear breach of God’s Word. And yet even this generous offer was rejected by the Arabs, who subsequently went to war against the new Jewish state.
When they eventually realised that Israel could not be defeated by military means, a propaganda war was launched for the purpose of creating a non-existent ‘Palestinian’ people and state. The rest is history – much of it re-written, airbrushed or even invented.
For example, the Palestinian Authority has taken control of a biblical era Jewish heritage site where they have begun demolishing archaeological findings – all part of a campaign to transform such historic locations into Palestinian tourist sites.
You couldn’t make it up. Yet the reality is that we are witnessing the age-old battle between “the father of lies”(John 8.44), according to the Lord Jesus, and the God of Israel manifested in the flesh by the One who said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6)
It’s a vicious conflict, seen at its most intense in the fiery cauldron of the Middle East. But the Judge of the nations is at the door, ready to mete out punishment against those who “scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” (Joel 3.2)
I struggle to grasp why so many American Jews are unfriendly towards Mr Trump, such an obvious friend of Israel! Ironically, part of the reason seems to lie in his strong pro-Israel stance which is perceived as having given rise to a spike in anti-Semitism, leaving them feeling particularly insecure.
But this is very short-term thinking, especially during Purim, when Jews celebrate their rescue from annihilation in ancient Persia. For their ultimate security – both in terms of Israel and their everlasting covenant with God – is what’s really at stake.
It particularly pains me to hear of plans for Israel Apartheid Week in my native South Africa where the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, with significant support from the ‘church’, is cynically seeking to link the tragic shooting by police of 69 black protestors (over the pass laws) at Sharpeville in 1960 with Israel and the Palestinians.
As a Cape Town colleague of mine put it, “When the church climbs into bed with such deceitful groups as the BDS, it only serves to drive a wedge between Jesus and the Jewish people.”
I pray that Jewish people would increasingly see the true face of their Messiah among today’s Christians. With all the elections taking place, it’s time to choose whom we will serve – light or darkness, life or death, truth or lies.
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