This article appeared originally in the February–May, 2001 Levitt Letters.
Part 1 — this article first appeared in the February 2001 Levitt Letter.
I was invited to contribute a chapter for an upcoming prophecy book to follow in the series starting with Foreshocks of Antichrist. My chapter turned out to be a kind of history, not only of the present problems, but the entire situation that has prevailed in Israel since 1948. Seen in context, the present uprising is a very small one indeed, regardless of how our media have portrayed it.
The violence of October 2000 was a clear sign that the peace process was a fake from the beginning. If false peace is the theme of the Tribulation Period, then the 1990s and the so-called peace process for Israel aptly predicted the Tribulation.
Even New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, certainly a Jewish admirer of Arafat and all other Arabs, had to admit that
…for the first time in a long time, Mr. Arafat no longer has the moral high ground…. Instead of responding to Mr. Barak’s peace-making overture, he and his boys responded to Ariel Sharon’s peace-destroying provocation. Imagine if, when Mr. Sharon visited the Temple Mount, Mr. Arafat had ordered his people to welcome him with open arms and say, “When this area is under Palestinian sovereignty, every Jew will be welcome, even you, Mr. Sharon.” Imagine the impact that would have had on the Israelis.
Obviously, Arafat and the Palestinians could have had peace any time since the Madrid conference in 1991 or the Oslo agreements in 1993. But they were busy gathering up as much land as possible under the “land for peace” principle, and they refused to close the deal. The terms offered by Prime Minister Barak in the Camp David meetings of the year 2000 amounted to a very serious offer to conclude the endless negotiations. Arafat should have taken the deal; he at least should have treated it with the serious consideration it deserved. He would have gained practically all he ever dreamed of, including part of Jerusalem, practically all of the West Bank, and a new Palestinian state.
Instead, the Palestinians opted for some ghetto rioting they called the “War for Independence” or the “Battle for Jerusalem,” which was over in a few weeks with some 300 casualties, mostly on their side. They demonstrated that they were no better than the Somalians when they murdered prisoners and dragged bodies through the streets. They attacked the mightiest power in the Middle East with rocks and assumed the world would jump in and help them. A Palestinian father suspiciously placed his 12-year-old child between himself and the gunfire, and after the boy was riddled with bullets which the Israelis ultimately established were Palestinian bullets, asked the world for vengeance against Israel over the death of his son. The father survived.
CNN desperately tried to foment a war in view of the fact that they’re in the war business, so to speak. During the Iraqi war, they dramatically increased the prices of their commercials. They became wealthy covering the Bosnian war, but now, try as they would, they couldn’t make a major war out of what amounted to the same casualty rate as any American city endures on a constant basis. WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, called me during that week and urged me to testify that the Israelis were in grave danger and that the whole place was going up in smoke. I told them I wouldn’t say that, and I said that what was going on in Israel amounted to the sort of rioting we had in Los Angeles and Detroit in past times. They, of course, did not use my thoughts on the news.
The media bias against Israel is overwhelming and ubiquitous throughout the world. There seems to be a bias toward the Arabs, mostly based on the fact that commercials are purchased by petro-dollar products on a large scale. Plastics, cosmetics, and the like represent a very profitable business sector for all media, and they respond like any business, catering to their best customers. We’ve said all this before, but it certainly isn’t getting any better. This time, CNN looked almost ridiculous, desperately trying to broadcast a war when there was truly little happening in the way of real hostility. The only true action worth reporting was the Israeli response to the murdering of prisoners in Ramallah. They demonstrated their skills to the Palestinians with razor-sharp surgical strikes on the police station where the prisoners were killed, a radio station, and, in effect, Arafat’s front yard in Gaza. Even the Palestinians could appreciate that they had a formidable enemy—patient but deadly.
In reality, the Arabs have been trying to dig the Jews out of Israel since 1948, when Israel declared its independence. It seems that it is intolerable for Arabs to have any other people anywhere in the Middle East, a territory they regard as “the Arab world.” They wouldn’t make very good Europeans, because they can only stand their own company and consider all others as intruders. And so, in every decade of Israel’s existence, the Arabs have attacked, sometimes with the teeth and sometimes with the tongue.
For example, in the ’40s when Israel declared its independence, five Arab nations attacked from all sides to conquer and annihilate their new neighbors. Even though the UN had sanctioned Israel’s right to recover its ancient land, the surrounding Arab nations would not put up with the idea and attacked immediately. One can only contemplate how different a Middle East we would have today if the Arabs had simply said, “Welcome back. We know you were here in Biblical times, and we know that we have lived together previously. You have only a small tract of land. And we appreciate the fact that, like some Arabs, you have been displaced, and you deserve your own country.” By this time, with Arab money and Jewish brains, the Middle East might well have been the paradise of the world.
But instead, there was a short and bloody war in which somehow the new Israelis held their ground. Refugees from Europe, they could hardly find common languages, and they were armed basically with handguns and hunting rifles, but they defeated five Arab armies and defended their new state.
In the ’50s, Israel received generous Jewish immigration from all parts of the world and grew in stature and strength. In 1956, there was a battle primarily with Egypt, in which Israel quickly prevailed.
So the Israelis triumphed in a second war and solidified their tenuous position as the only democracy among the sea of Arab dictatorships.
The ’60s were a decade of destiny, so to speak, since the Arabs came up with a new idea. They began to call themselves “Palestinians,” though this term previous to 1948 had referenced only the Jews of what was then called Palestine. The Jewish newspaper known today as The Jerusalem Post was then called The Palestine Post.
It bears repeating that the term “Palestinian” has nothing to do with Arabs, either historically or in modern times. Israel’s name was changed to Palestine by Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD in another of those “final solutions to the Jewish problem.” He chose that name because it harked back to the Philistines who lived along the coast of the Gaza region centuries before and who were a perennial enemy of Israel. But those Philistines themselves were not Arabs, but Greeks. They were people from the Adriatic Sea who settled along many coastlines in the Middle East to pursue their fishing and other marine enterprises. There is no connection whatever between Arabs, who were not yet known in the world at the time of the Philistines, and the Philistines themselves.
But the term was effective on the uneducated media of the world. Palestine somehow became an Arab nation with a long history. In truth, it was a Roman, then Moslem, then Crusader, then Marmaluke, then Ottoman-Turkish, then British Mandate country, from 135 AD to 1948, but it was never controlled by an organized, internal government. There are no “Palestinian” documents or currency or government records such as any bona fide nation leaves behind. The land of Israel, with its rightful owners away, was simply a backwater territory for whomever might settle there. But with the founding of the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, in the 1960s, the Arabs began to think of themselves as a people with a long heritage in the land.
Also germane to the ’60s and to what is happening today was the Six-Day War of 1967, in which the Jews recovered all of Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and virtually the entire Sinai Desert over to the Nile River. In truth, the young nation totally routed its enemies, humiliating the much larger powers of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, in a war so quickly over that the networks hardly had time to raise prices on their commercial advertisements.
After three consecutive defeats, it might be thought the Arabs would be wary of attacking Israel, which was becoming stronger militarily with each experience. And yet, the decade of the ’70s was characterized by a new assault on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a cowardly blow on the holiest day of the Jewish year, when soldiers were not at their posts and all were at prayer. In this manner, they got in a first punch, but were defeated in two to three weeks in any case. The Israelis consolidated their gains, and the Arabs turned to using diplomacy, propaganda and other weapons of the tongue.
Later, in the ’70s, we began the process of false peace, which ultimately led to the street riots of fall 2000. The Camp David Accords were first, returning the Sinai to Egypt in what has proved to be a cold peace but at least a non-shooting arrangement with Egypt. The boycotts of oil, begun in the late ’70s, were very effective in persuading the West that the Israelis were somehow the bad guys. The message was that the Arabs would withhold oil because Israelis did things which frustrated them, and therefore Americans would wait in line for gas. This began the blaming-of-the-victims stage in Israel’s affairs. Though they were the assaulted party in every case, they began to seem like the bullies of the Middle East. Helped by general anti-Semitism and the ignorance of the popular media, the image stuck, and today, the five million Israelis are regarded as enormously stronger than the 200 million Arabs! One small nation is somehow oppressing 22 big ones!
In the ’80s, the bad-mouthing of Israel continued unabated, and the “Palestinians” hit upon the Intifada. Schoolchildren would throw stones at Israeli policemen and soldiers and, when the Israelis would respond with megaphones, rubber bullets, and sometimes real bullets to hold their ground, the news media would portray them as heartless and brutal. It was unbelievable that a single viewer would buy it, but it was bought lock, stock and barrel, and now tiny Israel, one of the world’s smallest democracies, was being thought of as an overwhelming, imperialistic power!
At the same time, in Christian circles, seminaries in Europe and America turned away from the idea of the new Israel being a fulfillment of prophecy. Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Biola College, Talbot Seminary, and many other evangelical schools in the states began teaching various forms of End Times prophecy that somehow excluded Israel. Progressive Dispensationalism, an idea that holds that Christ is already sitting on the throne of David, thus placing a Kingdom event in the Church age, took hold and made normal Dispensationalism seem unimportant.
Graduates from these seminaries began pastoring churches which de-emphasized Israel. And today, as God works furiously in that land, the most “educated” evangelicals know little about the subject. Ironically, these graduates will, in the Kingdom, be the least equipped among Christians when living in the land they know so vaguely for 1,000 years.
With the defection of a portion of American Christianity, Israel was rapidly running out of friends in this world. The media was endlessly critical, and even the American government began to, at least for public consumption, turn against its former ally on the issue of the Intifada. The rioting—noisy but almost harmless—was touted to the world as a dangerous war in the offing and, therefore, in the style of the ‘90s, a peace conference was called to order in Madrid, Spain.
The ’90s were entirely a decade of false peace treaties, whether in Israel, Ireland, South Africa, India or anywhere else. Rather than finding true solutions to conflicts, government officials got together in fine hotels and were photographed toasting each other for brilliant peace-making initiatives. Nobel Peace Prizes were given to the most unworthy recipients, most notably Yasser Arafat, a lifelong terrorist who had murdered or ordered the murders of large numbers of innocents. Phony peace was thought to be better than no peace, and although the public was slow to buy it, the media cooperated with various governments in promoting things like the Middle East “peace process.” It was likely called a “process” because the sides never agreed on anything— not from the first session to the present moment, and not one inch of progress has been made toward peace in Israel.
False peace is a very important point in prophecy. It is the Antichrist’s prime weapon in dominating the nations and controlling the world. He is able to promote the same myth on a global scale so that nations everywhere feel they are at peace even while they are mobilizing for Armageddon. How he does this is a mystery, but it is elucidated somewhat by how pretentious the peace conferences of the ‘90s have been. People evidently are willing to consider officials toasting each other with champagne and handshakes over complex documents to be an adequate substitute for real peace, and so, as the prophet Daniel said of the Antichrist, “… by peace shall he destroy many” (8:25).
Thus, modern Israel’s fifty-odd years can be divided into decades, and that tempts one to imagine the Tribulation is just around the corner. After all, false peace was established in the ’90s, and it would seem rational that the Antichrist would capitalize on this theme in the first decade of the new millennium. That part we really don’t know, but all that has happened since the 1940s in Israel and the rest of the world certainly gives us food for thought on that subject.
And thus Israel, ever God’s timepiece, is again the prime indicator for the progress of events in prophecy.
Part 2 — this article first appeared in the March 2001 Levitt Letter.
A fascinating way of looking at whether events in Israel now propel us into the actual Tribulation Period to come is to consider the likelihood of the Antichrist entering at this time. We must all realize that the beginning of the Tribulation period is marked by the peace covenant to be signed between the Antichrist and the people of Israel (Daniel 9:27), and thus, the likelihood of the Antichrist actually appearing gives us clues to the proximity of the Tribulation Period itself.
This reasoning is based on the point that Israel is the timepiece by which we can estimate world events and the fulfillment of End Times prophecies. Without that knowledge, one is completely in the dark in judging the progress of events. I say this because our leading seminaries, Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Talbot Seminary and Biola College, just to mention a few (who were formerly right on track with God’s workings in Israel), have de-emphasized that nation in recent times. A doctrine called Progressive Dispensationalism — basically a way of avoiding the inconvenience of witnessing to Jews and watching and praying for Israel — is rapidly coming to the fore in prophecy teaching these days. Whether this is political correctness — to side with the media against Israel — or simply classical Biblical error is unclear. But it should be known that when the Tribulation breaks out in Israel, and when the thousand-year Kingdom gets underway in that land, the least equipped to appreciate any of that will be the graduates of our “best seminaries.”
In general, End Times prophecy has been relegated to conferences and special convocations rather than being the normal bill of fare in the seminary and the pulpit. A few pastors teach End Times prophecy, but in general it is considered “controversial” or perhaps too complex to undertake in the venue of the local church. Such thinking is unconscionable at just the time we need to most fully understand the Biblical revelations about the End Times.
With all of that said, we who understand that God is working in Israel today and may well be bringing on the very prophecy fulfillments we have always taught, are on the edges of our seats. Obviously, the Anti-christ’s entrance is well prepared at this moment, if indeed this is the moment the Tribulation will come.
An actor’s entrance is ordinarily announced by a cue, a single line that tells him when to step upon the stage and play his part. Usually that line is precipitated by some plot development that those familiar with the play are able to follow. And so we expect the appearance of such-and-such a character at such-and-such a moment, once the stage has been set and the other actors are properly motivated for that entrance.
And so it is in the situation of Israel and the Antichrist.
What we can see is this: the world inexplicably imagines that there has to be a peace treaty made between Israel and the Arabs of the land who call themselves Palestinians. I say “inexplicably” because the problems in Israel, while amazingly magnified by the media, are really localized ones occurring in probably fifty places around the world. Even the unrest of October 2000 — held by many to be the start of a general Middle Eastern war (or even World War III!) — was a matter of the sort of rioting seen from time to time in every democracy. And yet, virtually since the 1973 war, the Arabs have clamored for some sort of “peace” agreement, especially if the agreement contains the infamous “land for peace” principle.
In reality, there is no such principle in world history. No country ever gave up part of its land so that its neighbors would promise not to attack it. It’s sort of like agreeing to lose the war before the war starts. But in a generally anti-Semitic world, Israel has found that it has been better to play along — to give up small portions of land, or at least non-strategic land — for paper promises that have not proven true.
The most remarkable exchange in all this “peace processing” was Barak’s generous offers of summer 2000, and Arafat’s refusal to even answer. Rather than counter-propose or at least continue the spirit of negotiation, the Palestinian dictator simply fomented ghetto rioting that the media was pleased to call an “armed struggle.” Youthful zealots trashing their own neighborhoods, as also happens in Los Angeles or Detroit, were characterized as fighting some sort of “War for Independence” or “Battle for Jerusalem,” and Israel tried gently to suppress the virtual gangsterism.
That situation is still pending as we go to print, but it appears at this point that the Arabs will accomplish little except in public relations with these latest demonstrations.
Part 3 — this article first appeared in the May 2001 Levitt Letter.
Don’t think for a moment that the Israelis are unified in their response to the ongoing Arab crusade against them. An ancient Jewish adage has it that where there are two Jews, there are three opinions, and indeed the Chosen People disagree. As a matter of fact, their style of studying their own law books is characterized as a debate, or even an argument, in which one side maintains a given position of a specific law and the other side attacks it. The situation in the yeshiva, or Orthodox Jewish school, is similar to an American courtroom, where the defense and the prosecution argue before a neutral panel or a neutral judge. One side in a rabbinical debate is referred to as the sustainers or fulfillers of the law, and the adversarial side as the “destroyer” of the same law. And so our Lord, a rabbi in His own right, pointed out that in the debate over certain laws He gave in the Sermon on the Mount, He was not the destroyer but the fulfiller of such laws in front of a neutral Jewish public.
We could only wish that the crucial Jewish debate of today had only two sides, but in reality, the government, the military and the society at large differ on the peace process and other factors in this difficult time. One could characterize the left wing in Israel as doves, in American parlance, the most extreme of whom hope for peace at any price. They would be willing to try to share Jerusalem with the Arabs (although no Jewish citizen would agree to give up all of Jerusalem). And on the extreme right are those who favor “transfer,” which means to peaceably but forcibly deport Arabs from the Israeli society across some certain line and leave only Jewish citizens behind. Obviously, these extreme views don’t have many adherents, but there are many shades of compromise in between. In general, the government and the military, at this moment, still hope for some peace agreement, perhaps based on strict territorial lines. The two sides would conduct normal relations as to business and commerce, but they would truly live separately. This idea of “unilateral separation” is a new idea on Israel’s part, motivated by the present unrest. More dovish elements within the military and the government would rather continue some sort of the status quo, living together through thick or thin.
Israeli society at large is probably more discouraged with the peace process than the present government is. (As we go to press, the government is negotiating with rival factions to create some kind of coalition, embracing a wider consensus of the societies’ views. Or in plain language, the leftists are calling on the rightists to form a more centrist government.)
And let’s face it, a certain ever-growing portion of Israeli citizens is sick and tired of the peace process, the land-for-peace craziness, and all the rest of the pretentious dealings with people who they know in their heart of hearts are simply out to kill them and take their land. One can posture only so long to please the American government, the United Nations, or whomever, and finally, one comes to the end of one’s patience. A certain amount of Israeli people believes that giving up land for peace will promote the next war, and this writer certainly can understand that view.
In Israel, unlike many longer-established nations, there exists a society of pioneers, or settlers. They are roughly equivalent to the American pioneers of the 19th century in that they are settling empty lands away from the cities. Theirs is a dangerous life since, like the American pioneers before them, they run afoul of local residents. In America, these were the native Americans with a perfectly legitimate claim to the land. In the Israeli situation, the Israelis are the natives — the original residents have returned.
The cover story on the November 6, 2000, Jerusalem Report covered the unique circumstances of the settler-Palestinian differences.
The conditions for Jewish vigilantism exist: the anxiety about safety; the sense that the government is not allowing the army to respond with sufficient force; and the Palestinian desecration of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and the ancient Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue on the outskirts of Jericho. “We were very scared about how the settlers would react,” says Shlomo Dror, the spokesman for the coordinator of Israeli activities in the territories. “People in Beit Hadassah (in Hebron) have had bullets fired into their homes. They have sandbags on the windows. But none of them has taken out a gun and fired. The settlers see the peace process collapsing and they don’t want to do anything to change that. The Palestinians are doing the work for them.” Settler casualties, by mid-October, were also low. Hillel Lieberman, a resident of Elon Moreh near Nablus, was the one man attacked and killed by Palestinians. Lieberman set off in the direction of Joseph’s Tomb — where he helped establish a yeshivah [school] — when he heard it was being desecrated, and was murdered, his body mutilated and dumped in a cave. During Lieberman’s funeral procession, a gun battle erupted between settlers and Palestinians. It’s just such a nightmare scenario of a settler-Palestinian war which scares Israel’s political and military leaders.
Settler leaders say they have actively been trying to prevent any hint of vigilante action, but they cannot rule it out, and there’s no telling how the mood might shift if the Barak government returns to a negotiating process with Yasser Arafat.
If the government continues to adopt a policy of restraint, limiting the army’s response, says Benzi Lieberman, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, settlers will start to feel as if they are in Bosnia, and might start “acting as if they are in Bosnia. They feel the government is abandoning them,” he says. “I strongly oppose any private action, but my ability to maintain control of people is slipping.”
Benny Katzover, a leading settler figure from Elon Morch, warns that “voices are getting louder” for a private initiative. “Whoever is serious,” he says, “won’t talk about this in public. But the chances are growing that someone will take the law into his own hands. And the government will be to blame — a minority government that has auctioned off our national assets.”
I once tried to interview General Ariel Sharon back when he was the heroic tank commander who masterminded the Six Day War. I went to his office and indicated to his secretary that I was writing a book about the invasion of Gog and Magog called The Coming Russian Invasion of Israel. The general was not in his headquarters office, and his secretary simply wrote down his home telephone number for me. That’s Israel!
That evening, I phoned General Sharon’s home, and his wife answered and told me, “Arik is not home. He has gone to the grocery store.” I didn’t know exactly what to say, but I asked her if she were aware whether he thought that the Russians were a danger and that they might one day invade Israel. I talked a little about the prophecy and explained my thesis (that, inevitably, ever-widening conflicts in Israel will lead to that invasion). She gave an emphatic yes and said that her husband and the other generals were watching Russia full-time (back then it was the USSR) and were well aware of at least strategic military considerations, if not Scriptural ones. I thanked her very much and quoted from her thoughts in the book, now called Coming: The End! Russia and Israel in Prophecy.
No matter how many people are crying out for peace in Israel, in their heart of hearts, they think war is on its way. Like the general’s wife, they’re well aware that they have more enemies than those in the land.
Even the Arab-favoring New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, one of the most virulent Jewish critics of Israel, has recently tempered his views and seems afraid for the very safety of Israel itself. Anthony Lewis, Robert Novak, Mike Wallace, Ted Koppel and others of the Jewish Israel-bashing corps in the U.S. media are not quite so circumspect, but it would seem to the Biblically-informed that the invasion could be just around the corner.
But Israel has come into very competent hands. The central negotiation going on as we go to print is between the former prime minister Ehud Barak and that same general, former Defense Minister and Likud party head and new Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.