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San Remo Conference: Israel’s Right to Exist

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.’”  (Genesis 15:18)

Last week, the modern-day State of Israel turned 67!

As much as the rebirth of Israel is a significant miracle, many are actively working against the tiny nation’s right to exist.  They consider the existence of Israel a catastrophe.

Yom Ha'atzmaut-Independence Day

Israel just celebrated its 67th birthday.

Iran: Erasing Israel Off the Map Is Non-negotiable

One of the sticking points—if not the main sticking point—in the last round of “peace” negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was the refusal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

As well, Iran does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, despite being a member of the United Nations along with Israel.

Iran has a long history of vowing to destroy Israel.  As recently as a few weeks ago, the head of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards declared that “erasing Israel off the map is non-negotiable.”

As well, Iran (a Shia-majority nation) has been doing all that it can to create instability in the Middle East, including the support of Shia rebels in Yemen.  Iran also supports Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, all recognized terrorist organizations dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state.

In fact, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, praised the “We Love Fighting Israel” social media hate campaign.  Thousands of Iranians are reported to have joined the campaign, which encourages Iranian children, teenagers, and other Internet users to post pictures of themselves with messages of hate for Israel on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram.

Iran's nuclear facilities

Iran’s nuclear facilities

It is clear, therefore, that a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence.

Because of that, during the recent international nuclear negotiations with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that Iran recognize Israel as a part of a nuclear agreement.

“Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons—period. In addition, Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist,” Netanyahu stated.

American President Barack Obama dismissed the notion, essentially saying that such a demand was like asking a leopard to change its spots.

“The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms.  And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.” 

Israelis visit the zoo in Jerusalem.

Israelis visit the zoo in Jerusalem.

So while the United States has recognized Israel as a Jewish state since 1948, the Obama administration does not see a need for Israel’s avowed enemies to do so at any time.

Mark Levin, talk radio host and author of The Liberty Amendments, defended Netanyahu’s request, saying that Israel’s right to exist was a “fundamental issue” in nuclear negotiations.

“If they [the Iranians] don’t recognize the right of Israel to exist, then they believe they have right to make sure it doesn’t exist.  This seems to me to be a threshold point,” Levin stated on his radio show.  (Breibart)

But on what basis can we make a case for the legitimacy of the modern-day state of Israel?  Is it a miracle, as many Jews and Christians see it, or a catastrophe, as many Palestinians see it? 

Contemplating Jerusalem from the walkway on the walls of Jerusalem.

Contemplating Jerusalem from the walkway on the walls of Jerusalem.

“I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night.  You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”  (Isaiah 62:6–7)

Israel’s Right to Exist: An Ancient History

It is well established that the Jewish People have ancient ties to the land of Israel.  Their history in the Promised Land goes back about 3,000 years.  Both the historical record and archeology confirm this.

Despite that long history, many falsely claim that the Jewish People were not in Israel at all for some 2,000 years.

Although it is true that Rome crushed a Jewish revolt in AD 70, it is not true that the Jewish People were entirely sent out of Israel.  Many were sent into exile; nevertheless, the historical record confirms a continuous presence in the Land.

It is also true that the Roman Emperor Hadrian (who hated the Jews) coined the name Syria Palaestina in AD 132 in his own effort to wipe Israel off the map.  For this same reason, He also renamed Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina.

Another false claim is that the Palestinians controlled the Land for centuries.  Actually, when the Ottoman Empire lost control of the Holy Land after World War I, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others populated the area.

Before WWI, there was no Palestine and no Palestinian people.

The name Palestine came about during the British Mandate after World War I.  Under the British Mandate, anyone born in Israel was a Palestinian—Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc.

Israel has a dynamic multicultural mix where freedom of religion is guaranteed. (Israel Tourism photo by Eelco Roos)

Israel has a dynamic multicultural mix where freedom of religion is guaranteed.  (Israel Tourism photo by Eelco Roos)

The 94th Anniversary of the Legal Basis for Israel’s Right to Exist

Although some falsely claim that Israel only became a nation again because of sympathies surrounding the six million who died in the Holocaust, Israel did not come about solely for humanitarian purposes.  The world actually recognized the Jewish homeland in 1920.

During the First World War, the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, hoped to gain the support of the war effort from Jews living in the US, Russia, and Germany through a declaration proclaiming British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

In a letter to British Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in 1917, the Balfour Declaration stated that “Her Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people …”

In 1918, General Edmund Allenby drove the Turks out, bringing about the British occupation of the Land of the Bible.

The Declaration had anticipated the British occupation of the Land and the British Mandate for Palestine.  This mandate gave Britain authority over lands formerly governed by the Ottoman Empire.

Israel’s right to exist was recognized during the San Remo Conference in April 1920 following the conclusion of World War I.

Jewish National home San Remo Conference 1920

Area allocated for a Jewish homeland at the San Remo conference in 1920.

At San Remo the World War I allied powers of England, France, Italy, and Japan, with the US observing, divided the former 400-year-old Ottoman Empire into three mandates: Iraq, Syria, and Palestine.

France was to oversee Syria, while the mandates for Iraq and Palestine were given to Great Britain.

The San Remo agreement, which was adopted on April 25, 1920, incorporated the 1917 Balfour Declaration.  It charged Britain with putting into effect the 1917 agreement and establishing a national home for the Jewish People.  The Covenant of the League of Nations Article 22 legally sanctioned Jewish settlements in Israel.

The British Mandate was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922.

A memorandum at that time declared that Transjordan, which actually represented the largest part of the Mandate, was not to be included in provisions regarding Jewish settlements.  Jews were to be permitted to settle only west of the Jordan River.

Eighty percent of the mandated territory, which had been turned over to form Transjordan, was to be administered by Abdullah, the second son of Sharif Hussein of the Hashemites (direct descendants of the Islamic prophet Mohammed).

The British Mandate divided to create the Arab state of Transjordan

Area remaining for a Jewish homeland after 80% of the mandated territory was turned over to create Transjordan.

The Mandate came into effect on September 29, 1923 following the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne.

On November 29, 1947, by a two-thirds majority vote, the United Nations’ General Assembly sanctioned the partitioning of western Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state.

The Arabs, who immediately declared a holy war against the Jews, rejected this vote.

The Mandate ended at midnight on May 14, 1948 with the establishment of the Jewish state and the Arab war against the Jews continued.

Since then, Israel has been fighting for its very existence and continues to do so on a daily basis.

UN Partition Plan for Palestine map

The United Nations decided to further divide the land allocated for a Jewish homeland in 1947.  Although the Jewish leaders accepted this division, the Arab leaders rejected it.

The Biblical Basis for Israel’s Right to Exist

“So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there.”  (Joshua 21:43)

Israel’s right to the Holy Land stems from God’s promise to Abraham: “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever….  Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”   (Genesis 13:14–15, 17)

When Joshua and the Hebrew tribes crossed the Jordan River and entered Canaan, the land promised by God to the descendants of Abraham, Joshua divided the territory among the twelve tribes.

Although the Land of Israel had been promised to the Hebrew people (Genesis 15:18), we see from the Book of Joshua that they still had to fight to take it.  And the same still seems to be true today.

Joshua Passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant, by Benjamin West

Joshua Passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant, by Benjamin West

Israel is surrounded by enemies.

To the north in Lebanon, Hezbollah has been completely rearmed by Iran following the 2008 conflict with Israel and is ready to fire its missiles into any part of the Jewish state.

To the south, Hamas is rapidly rearming after last summer’s “Operation Protective Edge,” and it too is ready to send missiles into the communities surrounding the Gaza strip—land also promised to Israel by God but not taken.  (Joshua 13:1–7)

Iran remains as a thorn in the side of the Jewish people, feeding arms and financial support to its sworn enemies and feverishly working to produce nuclear weapons to be used against the Jewish state, to wipe it out once and for all—but God has other plans:

“‘I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.”  (Amos 9:15)

Israeli soldiers wrap tefillin (phylacteries) at the Western (Wailing) Wall for morning prayer.

Israeli soldiers wrap tefillin (phylacteries) at the Western (Wailing) Wall for morning prayer.

Scripture tells us that God has promised the Land of Israel from the Euphrates (in present day Iraq) to the Nile (or the River of Egypt in the Hebrew) to the Jewish People.  While Israel has a God-given right to exist according to His Word, it is bought with blood and sweat.

Still, Israel remains a relatively peaceful land in the midst of warring powers that seem intent on destroying her.

Whatever plans man may have, God’s plan supersedes them.

While the current question of Israel’s right to exist may seem like a political question or battle, it is in reality a question of whether or not God’s Word  is true.

Two Israeli girls hold the Israeli flag.

Two Israeli girls hold the Israeli flag.

The Jewish People–the Chosen People

“The Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it.”  (Psalm 24:1)

The Land was given to Israel by God as an everlasting inheritance:

I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.  And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.  (Genesis 17:7–8)

This Land was passed down to the Jewish People through Isaac and not to the Arabs through Ishmael:

To you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.  And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the Earth shall be blessed.  (Genesis 26:34)

Although we may question that inheritance, ultimately, the land of Israel belongs to God who swore an oath to give the Land to the Jewish people, and God’s promises cannot be broken:

He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac.  Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance.’  (Psalm 105:8–11)

Jewish men pray Shacharit (morning prayers) at Jerusalem's Western (Wailing) Wall. In the foreground are siddurs (Jewish prayer books).

Jewish men pray Shacharit (morning prayers) at Jerusalem’s Western (Wailing) Wall.  In the foreground are siddurs (Jewish prayer books).

Although God knew that we would be scattered because of sin, He also promised that we would return to the Land of our fathers:

“I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own Land…  And you will live in the Land that I gave to your forefathers.”  (Ezekiel 36:24, 28)

God prophesied through His prophet Ezekiel that the Jews would return to their land and prosper:

“You O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come.  For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown.  I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt.” (Ezekiel 36:8–10)

The Kidron Valley is also called the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the place the prophet Joel says the nations will be judged in the Last Days.

The Kidron Valley is also called the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the place the prophet Joel says the nations will be judged in the Last Days.

So this end-time return of the Jewish People to their national homeland is fulfillment of Bible Prophecy.  It is a miracle!

And while those who seek to divide the land and remove the Jewish People from it permanently may call it a catastrophe, we can rejoice that the Word of God is true.

Moreover, as God actively uses Israel to both bless the world and challenge it, we can see those final days before the return of Yeshua HaMashiach drawing ever closer.

Before His coming, the nations will gather against Israel and Jerusalem to divide it, precipitating the judgment of God against the nations.

“In those days and at that time when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.  Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My Land.”  (Joel 3:1–2)

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