The worldwide media, the Arab League, and the United Nations continue to pressure Israel to stop allowing Jewish people to build homes in Biblical Israel (the land that God promised to Abraham, as specified in the Bible, as the places where the children of Israel would live or settle).
These Jewish communities are demonized by the world press as “Occupied Territories,” leaving the impression that the Jewish people are settling on land that doesn’t belong to them.
In an effort to pressure Israel to bring an end to this so-called occupation, many misinformed Christian individuals and large denominations such as the Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the World Council of Churches, with hundreds of millions of members who don’t understand the Jewish roots of the Bible or their faith have joined an international boycott of Israeli products.
Surprisingly, a number of Jewish Israelis also want to put an end to some settlements, in order to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians; however, the 40-year history of modern Israel has proved time and again that swapping land for peace doesn’t work.
Land for peace deals and boycotts don’t just hurt Israel as a nation, they hurt everyday folk who are struggling to build a life for themselves.
Recently, for instance, a local makolet (a small, neighborhood grocery and convenience store) stopped selling organic eggs from the settlements.
The owner of the store explained that a few Jewish individuals raised such strong protest that she felt forced to stop buying settlement eggs.
Despite the fact that calling for a boycott of Israeli settlement products is illegal, she switched to another egg supplier that wouldn’t make her a target of such hostility.
This summer (2011), the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed an anti-boycott bill. This controversial law calls for penalties on anyone publicly calling for a boycott against Israeli settlement products.
Individuals, organizations, or groups promoting a boycott of settlement products may face lawsuits, exemption from government tax benefits, and exclusion from government employment.
This law is designed to protect the livelihoods of the Jewish people who manufacture products ranging from food to furniture in areas considered settlements.
Yaakov Berg, the founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery, also has felt the sting of settlement product boycotts.
His award-winning wine, which has garnered top prizes at local and international competitions, was targeted recently by a sophisticated advertising campaign launched by the anti-settlement group.
Peace Now activists are also promoting their views on social media like Facebook using slogans like “Sue me, I boycott settlement products!”
The purpose of this campaign is to encourage mass disobedience to this anti-boycott law and has drawn almost 8,500 supporters.
As a consequence, some of Berg’s customers said they will no longer buy his wine. In a show of solidarity, other customers have increased their orders.
Berg said he is considering suing the promoters this boycott, saying that his winery is built on state land and compliant with Israeli law.
So much is heard these days about the boycotting of Israeli products. But how is it possible that Israelis would boycott their own Israeli products?
Why such an uproar over a dozen eggs or any other products coming out of the settlements?
What exactly is a settlement and why are they causing such division among Israelis? Why are the settlements causing such division?
An Israeli settlement is a community of Jewish people built on land that Israeli captured in the Six-Day War in 1967.
International law clearly states that land gained in defense of the country from any external aggression is considered legitimate spoils of war.
Despite that, the international community generally considers these communities illegal, and calls them occupied territories, but the real question is “Who’s occupying whose land?” There is only one place to find an authoritative answer to this question. That answer isn’t found in the media, but in the Word of God.
Settlement Borders Inside the Biblical Mandate
The Bible is the ultimate authority for resolving all disputes.
Even a quick search of the Scriptures reveals to whom the disputed land (the so-called occupied territories) really belong.
“The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac and He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute; to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, To you, I will give the land of Canaan.’” (Psalm 105:8–11)
All of the disputed Israeli settlements are located within the borders of the land God decreed in His Word to belong to the Jewish people.
“On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates….” (Genesis 15:18)
International Law Validates Settlements
These lands also belong to Israel by an international agreement.
In 1917, Lord Balfour, a British politician and Bible believer, presented a paper to the British government stating the case for a Jewish homeland. His proposal divided the land following the Jordan River from the Golan Heights to the Red Sea and across to the Mediterranean coastline. The Jewish people were to possess all of the land west of the Jordan.
This Balfour Partition carried no international authority, until the San Remo Convention in 1923, which was held in San Remo, Italy.
Fifty-one member states of the League of Nations, including Britain, the USA, Canada and Europe were in attendance. All either ratified or confirmed the Balfour agreement, giving all land west of the Jordan (now called the ‘West Bank’) to the Jewish people.
The current dispute with regards to these settlements is the issue of rightful ownership; however, God sets the boundaries of the nations of the earth.
“And He has… determined their pre-appointed times, and boundaries of their dwellings….” (Acts 17:26)
Although both sides claim the land as their own, according to God’s word, God has clearly given the disputed territories to the Jewish people. As Believers, our only righteous choice is to come into agreement with Dvar Elohim–the Word of God.
The great Hebrew prophet Ezekiel prophesied the judgment of Edom, (modern day Arab people) because they attempt to claim the Land that belongs to the seed of Jacob (Israel) by Divine Covenant.
“Because you have said, ‘These two nations and countries (Judea and Samaria) will be ours and we will take possession of them,’ even though I the LORD was there, therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you.” (Ezekiel 35:10–11)
Jewish settlements currently exist in the West Bank, as well certain neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Settlements also existed in the Sinai and Gaza Strip until Israeli evacuated the Sinai Settlements after signing a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979.
Evacuees were forced to leave their homes and land that they had so lovingly and painstakingly built up over the years.
They carefully swept and cleaned their homes before leaving, not realizing that they would be brutally demolished.
Israel dismantled 18 settlements in the Sinai Peninsula in 1982. Israel also evacuated settlers from all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank in 2005, using force when necessary to uproot Israelis from their own land and give it to the enemy.
Gaza first appears in the Tanakh (Old Testament) as the place where Samson died while delivering Israel from the Philistines. Jews finally conquered it during the Hasmonean Era and continued living there.
Many of the family members of our Bibles For Israel ministry staff live in settlements all over Israel, including the ones mentioned above.
Land Concessions Don’t Lead to Peace
Since ancient times, there has been a Jewish presence in these territories, which was only interrupted from 1948–1967 when Jews were forbidden to reside in the West Bank and East Jerusalem because the land was occupied by Jordan.
If this land so clearly belongs to Israel, then why are some Israelis so intensely opposed to the settlements, that they would boycott eggs produced there?
Some secular Israelis who don’t believe the Tanakh (Old Testament) consider the settlements the major obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
Groups like ‘Peace Now’ have been deceived into thinking that the violence would end immediately if Israel would just pull out of these areas.
Obviously, this isn’t true. After Israel removed its Jewish citizens from Gaza in exchange for peace, rocket attacks and terrorist activity coming out of this region didn’t stop and still continue to this day.
Experience shows that Israeli concessions of their Land doesn’t end Palestinian violence.
If the Palestinians put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence, and true peace would exist.
However, if Israel put down its weapons today, there would be no more Israel!
Under the UN Security Council Resolution 242, any Israeli withdrawal from disputed territories must take place only in the context of full peace and security guarantees!
Settlements Should Continue
Statistics (July 2009) show that 304,569 Israelis live in the 121 officially-recognized settlements in the West Bank, 192,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and over 20,000 live in settlements in the Golan Heights. The character of a settlement is diverse, ranging from farming communities to full-fledged cities such as Maale Adumim, Modi’in Illit, and Betar Ellit, with a population of over 30,000 each.
The settlement city of Ariel, capital of Biblical Samaria, was purchased in a legitimate business deal from the Arabs. At that time, the land was completely barren. Story has it that the Arabs called the region the “Mountain of Death”, since nothing would grow there.
They thought the Jews were extremely foolish to hand over good money for such a worthless piece of property. But once the land went back into the hands of its rightful owners, it blossomed and flourished. Ariel is now a beautiful city full of flowers in a glorious array of colors and blossoming trees that drop a carpet of flowers on the walkways, as if in preparation for the Royal Bride.
The issue of settlements recently came to the fore when Israel approved the building of 1,600 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem by the Israeli interior ministry. The ministry is expected to approve the building of a further 2,700 homes.
In March, Israel approved plans to build hundreds more homes in the West Bank in response to the murder of five members of a Jewish settler family, which included two children and a baby.
Palestinian terrorists entered a home in a settlement in the late evening and brutally murdered the Fogel family, stabbing them to death as they slept in their beds.
Less than 24 hours after the Fogel family was slaughtered in the isolated West Bank settlement of Itamar, Israel boldly approved a decision to build an additional 500 housing units in the area. Israel’s Interior minister, Eli Yishai, of the pro-settlement, right-wing Shas party, wanted a more radical response. He said that Israel should build “at least a thousand new homes for each person murdered.”
Housing minister Ariel Atias, also of the Shas party said: “We must strengthen the settlement, and the time is now.”
Chief rabbi Yona Metzger told the crowd attending the funeral of the Fogel family that the terrorists had only succeeded in uniting Israelis. Settlement expansion should accelerate in response to the murders, he added.
“Another neighborhood, that’s the answer. More building, that’s the answer,” he said.
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin told the mourners that “… we will live, we will continue to build and to plant, we will continue to grip onto the land of Israel: in Itamar, in Beit Hagai, in Hebron and in Jerusalem, everywhere and any time.” The courageous people of Israel residing in these settlements are standing on the Word of God; even risking their lives to possess the Land God has given us. They dwell in the settlements, even at the cost of being criticized, judged and boycotted by their own people.