DEAL OR NO DEAL
The latest attempt at achieving the impossible dream of peace between Jews and their Arab cousins was submitted just over a month ago by U.S. President Donald Trump. While discussions of peace have been going on almost non-stop since Israel’s rebirth in 1948, actual sit-downs that led to signed agreements have been few.
The latest attempt at achieving the impossible dream of peace between Jews and their Arab cousins was submitted just over a month ago by U.S. President Donald Trump. While discussions of peace have been going on almost non-stop since Israel’s rebirth in 1948, actual sit-downs that led to signed agreements have been few. Therefore, it would first be worth trying to grasp the gravity of taking on this noble task.
Since I was born in Israel some 40 years ago, there have been two prime ministers – Yitzchak Rabin and Ariel Sharon– who gave land to the Palestinians in hopes of receiving peace in return. Both prime ministers would be removed from their posts within months.
The Kabbalah Curse
I was a teenager when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in 1995. Over half of the nation didn’t like him for signing the Oslo Accords with then-President Bill Clinton and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. This agreement gave large parts of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) away to the Palestinians as an initial stage of a roadmap to peace. Years prior, Arafat and his Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) had been kicked out of Jordan because they were such a menace to that country. After stirring up terrible chaos in Lebanon, Israel succeeded in forcing them out of that country, too. Unfortunately, with no place left to go, Arafat would plant his PLO headquarters in the West Bank and torment Israel for the rest of his life. He became known as the father of modern-day terrorism to some – and a celebrated savior of the Palestinian people to others. In the end, it wasn’t his violence that got Arafat what he wanted. It was his political savvy.
Reassessing his strategy, in the mid-1960’s Arafat began creating the sad narrative of his longing for his “hometown of Jerusalem” – even though his Arabic accent gave away his Egyptian origin. Over time, the PLO convinced world leaders their wild aggression was merely in reaction to losing their homes. They went from bloody butchers who killed women and children (in neighboring Arab lands) with their bare hands, to wounded puppies who just needed a warm home, in the eyes of the world. Even some Israelis bought into the idea and saw themselves as believing against hope – like Anne Frank – that, “in spite of everything, people are really good at heart.”
Before the age of the Internet, the PLO could easily speak in Arabic of paving the road to Jerusalem with their blood to inspire armed resistance against the evil Zionists, while in English they spoke of their longing to simply go home to Jerusalem, raise their families and worship Allah peacefully on the Temple Mount.
All the warning signs were there for those who were willing to look. Even the PLO logo at the time included a map of Palestine – which happened to look exactly like the map of Israel – just without the word “Israel.” But Rabin bought into the wounded puppy idea and signed the Oslo Accords.
Many Israelis were unhappy about the agreement, but the ultra-Orthodox Jews were livid. Rabin had “given away God’s land” to worshippers of Allah in exchange for a mere promise of peace. In response, a sect of radical Jews who adhere to mystical Kabbalah practices, promptly and publicly cast the Pulsa diNura curse on Rabin. Much of this ceremony is hush hush so it’s hard to get a consensus on the nature and practice of this curse. Ultimately though, the witchcraft-like curse is supposed to evoke destroying angels to bring about the death of an individual who has committed a grave sin against God. Rabin would be shot and killed within the month.
It was one of those life moments you remember where you were standing when the news broke. It wasn’t just that Rabin had been murdered. True, living in Israel, we were always under threat of one terrorist attack or another. But Rabin had been murdered by one of our own – by a Jew – an ultra-radical Orthodox Jew. Despite secular and religious Jews holding to vastly different opinions on how to live life, there was an unspoken rule: We were surrounded by enemy nations who wanted us dead – so we would never help their cause by killing each other.
About ten years later, Ariel Sharon evacuated thousands of Israelis from their homes and relinquished control of Gaza in hopes of giving Palestinians an opportunity to prove they could eventually handle peacefully running their own state. He promptly received the same treatment by the Kabbalists. I remember secular media complaining about the publicity surrounding Sharon’s Pulsa diNura. Though they didn’t believe in its effectiveness, they were concerned it would simply inspire another young radical and thus be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Six months later however, Sharon suffered a stroke which rendered him braindead. He would remain unconscious and on life support for seven years until the rest of his body finally shut down.
There was one land-for-peace agreement that was signed in 1979 – between Israel and Egypt – that didn’t result in the death of an Israeli Prime Minister (perhaps the Kabbalists weren’t as organized back then). It did, however, result in the death of the other side’s leader – President Anwar Sadat. He persuaded Israel to give up the entire Sinai peninsula which Israel had conquered in the Six Day War (an area more than twice the size of Israel’s remaining land mass), in return for a cold but solid peace with Egypt. He wouldn’t live to see it happen.
No one can say for certain what role, if any, the Kabbalists played in the deaths of these leaders. For sure the powers of darkness are real. On the other hand, Kabbalists have cursed many other politicians who are still alive and well today.
Not Yours to Give
What can be said for certain is that Joel 3:2 describes the nations dividing up God’s land as a deed that angers God greatly. In fact, it bothers Him so much He ordained special day judgment to those who commit this crime. Perhaps it is because anyone looking to divide the land would be someone who doesn’t recognize God nor know His plan. He has said this Land is His Land, and He has promised it to the children of Israel. Therefore, it is simply not anyone’s right to give it to another people. In a sense, even the descendants of Israel are merely stewards over this Holy Land, having been given the right to be here.
It is worth noting that God was just as adamant when He delegated other lands to the nations surrounding Israel. Deuteronomy 2:9 says “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’”
During WWI, Britain had promised the Arabs that if they fought against the Ottomans, they would be rewarded with sovereignty over their own lands – and now it was time to pay up. So when the Ottoman empire was defeated at the end of WWI, the League of Nations gathered together to divide the Middle East into regions.
As swaths of land became new Arab countries, the designations went largely unchallenged. But it was the British Mandate over Palestine that would bring the British Empire to its knees. Arabs who were ecstatic about ruling themselves once again all over the Middle East, were vehemently opposed to a Jewish population enjoying the same privilege next door.
In the end, more than two thirds of the land Lord Balfour of England had intended to go towards creating a Jewish homeland, instead went to create another Arab country called Jordan. During Israel’s War of Independence, Jordan then proceeded to capture and occupy East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (now known as the West Bank of the Jordan River). They would expel the Jewish majority living in East Jerusalem and grant the remaining Arab inhabitants in their occupied territory Jordanian citizenship. When Israel recaptured Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria in 1967, they allowed many of the Jordanians to remain there. Despite both retaining their homes and Jordanian citizenship, these Arabs joined the political fight against Israel and began identifying as Palestinian refugees.
It’s important to know that in day-to-day life in Israel, Arabs and Jews get along just fine. Though the occasional terrorist attack can set us on edge, we work side by side on a regular basis and even attend each other’s weddings and such. I often have a hard time telling if someone is Jewish or Arab when I first meet them, though I have lived here my whole life.
We regularly hear beautiful stories of Jews helping Arabs in emergency situations and vice versa (and no, it never makes international news). I, myself, lost an iPhone when visiting an Arab neighborhood and had it returned by one of the locals who refused any compensation for his good deed – but did invite me over for tea.
However, it’s hard to get their honest opinion in public because it endangers them and their families. Still, some brave Arabs have publicly argued that looking back, engaging in this long existential battle against Israel was the worst decision ever made. The more they dug in their heels (with the violent uprisings and the wall of separation that followed) the poorer and more miserable they became, and this, despite the mounds of money the world sent their leaders.
The biggest losers in all of this mess are the everyday Palestinian Arabs who, given the opportunity, would’ve simply wanted to earn a living and raise a family. Instead, they became the pawns of the Middle East. Their suffering would be exacerbated and used to prove to the world that Israel was evil. At the same time, Palestinians would be shunned and never be fully embraced as part of the larger Arab body. In fact, members of the Arab League forbade surrounding nations from absorbing Palestinian Arabs into their countries and granting them citizenship.
Given the opportunity, many Palestinian families would rather leave and start over elsewhere. But when some organizations offered to fund the exodus, Arab leaders screamed ethnic cleansing. To the Muslim Arab world, it was never about solving the refugee crisis, it was always about creating it.
Even for those who did once buy into the dream of their own state, the reality of the corruption of their leaders who claim to be guiding them is hard to ignore. They are stuck in a sort of purgatory – on one side watching their kin in Jordan (whose population is 70% Palestinian Arabs) live their lives. And, on the other side of the fence, Israeli-Arabs (Arabs who accepted Israel’s sovereignty over them in 1948 and received citizenship) enjoy the freedoms and benefits of a modern democratic state.
Middle East Chess
Though President Trump’s Deal of the Century offers prospects for jobs and prosperity, in hopes that the Arab population will be too busy making money to want to blow themselves up, the most unique factor in this peace plan is the Arab support. No, not the Palestinian Arab support, but for the first time Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman are standing in support of a plan that recognizes Israel. Some of these countries have even engaged in talks of their own to begin to normalize relations with Israel. This development is a solid nail in the coffin of the original Palestinian Arab agenda as the hearts of surrounding Arab nations who previously desired Israel’s destruction, now see the benefit of its existence, including the economic boost and social and political stability it has offered the region.
Though you can see why this topic is no laughing matter, many believe both Netanyahu and Gantz (the two top candidates running for prime minister in the elections this month) have readily embraced this plan from Trump because they are convinced the Palestinians will not accept it. Yet, Israel’s acceptance of the deal gives them a legitimate opportunity to annex strategic lands designated to Israel for security reasons that until now would have garnered solid international condemnation.
In agreeing to the Deal of the Century, this is the first time Israel has formally accepted the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state in Gaza and parts of Judea and Samaria. But what can you give to change the heart of someone who has been taught to hate you from birth? One could argue it’s largely a strategic move. And I bet no one would be more shocked than Trump himself to see both sides actually agree to it. Still, it is both a significant step forward and a risky deal with the devil.
The complexity of this issue is seemingly endless, for what you are witnessing is a conflict that is both ancient and modern, both social and political, both physical and spiritual. The greatest irony lies in the fact that the Palestinians’ deliverance will only fully come when they agree not only to stop hating Jews – but to worship One. If I had one prayer, it would be for God to deliver Palestinian Arabs from the bondage of their current leaders and deliver them from the stranglehold of Islam. It may not be the Deal of the Century, but it is the plan that has been in play for at least two millennia. I hope you will join your prayers with ours, for this is the one Peace Plan guaranteed to work.
Dear Maoz Partner,
They say this peace plan is the most creative and practical of any that has ever been presented. The 180-page document took years and likely hundreds of brilliant men and women to put together. Meanwhile, in Israel, there is a small group of people who not only have a better solution – they are living proof of that solution. When Jews and Arabs come to the saving knowledge of Yeshua – they not only discover the perfect peace plan – they become the peace plan.
The problem in Israel today is not that there are two peoples fighting over a plot of land, but that there are two gods fighting over dominion – the god of Islam and the Living God of Israel. Should both people worship the same God, the conflict would be resolved.
And so, while many forces are meeting, protesting and lobbying all over the world to reach a political conclusion, you can get behind the people on the ground here in Israel already solving the problem one heart at a time.
The good news is, unlike western individualism, Arab culture is very tribal. Once a wave of salvations and testimonies gain publicity and momentum, many will dive in wholeheartedly with their entire families.
Though God is bringing Jews from all over the world back to their homeland, He has welcomed non-Jews living here who will abandon their idols and “join themselves to the Lord.” (Is. 56:6)
Last year, we were able to pour over $50,000 into Arab outreach including medical aid, education and developing Arabic worship. This year we would like to give more!
Do you want to see peace in the Middle East? Help us offer Muslims the opportunity to experience the love of God in our deeds and the power of God in their worship.
For the salvation of both Arabs and Jews in Israel,
Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram,
Kobi and Shani Ferguson