The Promised Land
The Middle East
1004 BC -- Present
In 1517 the Middle East was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire and remained under Muslim control for the next four-hundred years. Jews, who had not fled Muslim oppression, were huddled in old Israel, Juda, and Galilee, denied access to Jerusalem and other Holy places, and often attacked by Muslim neighbors. On December 9, 1917, as the Ottoman Empire crumbled, British General Allenby led an army to the Promised Land and quelled the violence that had raged for over 3,000 years.
Some say that the British deliverance was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy spelled out in Isaiah 31:5, "As birds flying so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem, defending it also He will deliver it, and passing over he will preserve it."
Of course, Palestinians, Persians, Syrians, Arabs, and Jews, who lived there each had a different perspective and didn't want deliverance -- British style. In their own way, each group hoped deliverance would come from a Higher Authority. They each hoped that God, or Jehovah, or Allah, would appear and smite all the others.
Claims for the territory go back millenniums. The best records, including the Bible, say that David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites about 1004 BC and made it the capital city of the Jews. Some scholars say that the "city" was about 2000 years old at that time, although many Christians believe that David was the founder. David ruled until 970 BC, followed by Solomon who erected the first temple in 960 BC.
In 928 BC the Kingdom was divided into Israel (north) and Judah (south). Then in 722 the Assyrians conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel. In 701 Hezekiah successfully stopped an attack on Jerusalem from Sennacherib but in 597 the Babylonians captured the city and in 586 Nebuchadnezzar destroyed most of the city, including the first temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylonia (Iraqi) as slaves.
Persians captured Israel and Babylonia in 539 BC and over the next two years Cyrus allowed about 50,000 Jews to return to Israel. For the next 200 years the Jews gradually became self-governing, built a second temple, and reconstructed walls around Jerusalem.
In 332 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region and died in Babylon in 323, triggering the Wars of Succession. The Egyptian, Ptolemy I, captured the area in 320 and Egyptians ruled until 198 BC when the Syrian Seleucids took control. In 167 BC, Antiochus IV of Syria outlawed Juda and desecrated the second temple triggering a War of Liberation led by Judah the Maccabee. For the next hundred years the Jews ruled off-and-on but were engaged in frequent neighborhood spats.
In 63 BC General Pompey and his Roman legions conquered Israel, took Jerusalem, and Romans ruled even beyond the fall of the Roman Empire. There were two significant revolts against the Romans. The first in 66 AD was finally put down in 70 AD. The Roman ruler, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and the surviving Jews were exiled or sold into slavery.
In 132, Bar Kochba led a doomed revolt against Rome; and in 135 AD Emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem, built new walls, renamed the city Aelia Capitolina, and renamed the country Palestine. He then banned Jews from Jerusalem and the ban stayed in effect until Empress Eudocia lifted it in 438, more than 125 years after Emperor Constantine had legalized Christianity in the region.
In 614 Persians conquered Palestine and Jerusalem to end Roman rule but the victory was short lived because in 628 Emperor Heraculis recaptured the city. However, Romans were soon displaced again. In 638, six years after Mohammed's death, Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem in an early conquest of the Islamic Crusades. [It should be noted that it is now politically incorrect to acknowledge that Islamic Crusades ever took place.]
Strange as it may seem, the Muslims immediately allowed Jews back into Jerusalem. Of course, this was before Muslims learned that the rest of the world was anti-Semitic and that they could practice hatred of Jews with impunity.
Muslims ruled for the next 450 years: Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock in 691; al-Walid al-Malik built the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 715; power shifted from the Umayyards of Damascus to the Abbasids of Baghdad -- Abbasids continued to enhance Jerusalem in 750; Fatimid conquest was soon followed by destruction of churches and synagogues in 969; Seljuks devastated Jerusalem in 1071.
In 1099 Christian Crusaders arrived. Godfrey de Bouillon captured Jerusalem and Baldwin I was declared king. Jews and Muslims were slaughtered, exiled, or enslaved. The Christians ruled for almost 100 years, until 1187 when Kurdish general Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders and permitted Jews and Muslims to return and re-settle in the city.
In 1244 Mamluk Sultans defeated the Ayyubids and began to rule Jerusalem once again. By 1260 the Mamluks of Egypt ruled from Cairo. Then in 1267 Rabbi Moshe Ben Nahman arrived from Spain and revived a Jewish congregation which grew and expanded over the next 200 years. In 1492 a large inflow of Jews arrived from Spain after being expelled by Queen Isabella following the "reconquista" of that country from Muslim rule. [The Spaniards overthrew the Muslims, but kicked out the Jews!]
As mentioned above, the area became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517 and remained under Muslim control until the British occupation in 1917. However, there were a few bumps in the road. Napoleon invaded in 1799 but didn't try to capture Jerusalem. The area was so unsettled that Britain didn't open a consulate there until 1838.
It is important to note also that in 1917, while the British were moving into the area, the Balfour Declaration was issued whereby the United Kingdom announced its support for a Jewish homeland.
The British governed under a League of Nations mandate until 1948 but there were constant battles between the Arabs and Jews. In 1947 the newly formed United Nations passed a resolution to divide the area into two nations; Israel and Palestine. The Jews accepted the UN resolution but Arabs and Palestinians rejected it because they wanted the Jews exiled or killed.
Israel came into existence on May 14, 1948, and President Harry Truman signed a document within an hour to recognize the new nation. The next day, May 15, 1948, Israel was attacked by 7 neighboring countries. The "1948-1949 War" was the first Arab attempt to annihilate the new state of Israel.
On Jan. 7, 1949, a cease-fire was declared in the Middle East. By this time Israel had grown in size by seizing parts of western Galilee, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. In 1950, Israel declared Jerusalem its capital but the U.S. refused to move its embassy and stayed in the 1948 capital of Tel Aviv.
In 1951, Egypt unilaterally and publicly broke several treaties with Britain, leading to mass rioting and attacks on U.K. soldiers stationed along the Suez Canal. Problems persisted and in 1956 the U.S. and U.K. withdrew financial support to build Egypt's Aswan High Dam. In response, Egypt seized the canal, expelled British security forces, and barred Israeli shipments through the canal. A few months later Israeli forces (with U.K. backing) seized the canal, the Sinai peninsula, and the Gaza Strip. However, under pressure from both the U.S. and the UN, Israel soon withdrew from the Sinai and the Suez Canal.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964. Then, on June 5, 1967, Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria which had formed an alliance called the United Arab Republic (UAR). Forces from Jordan and Lebanon joined the attack. Within days Israel had beaten back the aggressors and captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the Sinai peninsula from Egypt, and the West Bank from Jordan (the "Six-Day War"). The UN declared a cease-fire on June 10.
In Apr. 1969, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser declared the UN cease-fire void along the Suez Canal and attacked Israeli forces along the Suez and in the Sinai peninsula. On Jun. 9, 1970, in a US-negotiated peace deal, Egypt recognized Israel's existence within certain territorial boundaries and Israel agreed to withdraw from the Suez and Sinai. However, Egypt's UAR partner, Syria, refused to accept the deal.
On Yom Kippur, Oct. 6, 1973, Israel received another surprise attack from its Arab neighbors. Egypt tried to retake the Sinai peninsula, while Syria tried for the Golan Heights. The Oil producing Arab states joined the fray by imposing an oil embargo on the West. In the U.S. gas prices soared and motorist began to sit in long lines for fuel as U.S. gasoline companies horded supplies to drive prices even higher.
The United Nations negotiated a truce on Oct. 22 and was satisfied with a simple cease fire. But U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissenger stayed involved in the process and in Jan. 1974 Egypt and Israel agreed that Israel would pull back from Suez and cede the Sinai.
Israel's northern neighbors were not so accommodating. Syrian forces in southern Lebanon shelled Israel settlements almost daily while the PLO sent terrorist into the tiny country with car bombs. But Israel held back and remained involved in peace talks with Egypt and Jordan.
On Nov. 20, 1977, Egypt's president Anwar el-Sadat visited Jerusalem and asked the Knesset (Israeli parliament) for a permanent peace settlement. The Arab world was furious with Sadat and the shelling from Lebanon and bombing from the PLO intensified. In 1978 Israel finally invaded Lebanon to hunt down the Syrians but continued to negotiate with Egypt.
On Mar. 26, 1979, the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was signed providing for Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula and Egypt's recognition of Israel's existence. The Arab countries were again furious with Egypt and the pressure increased from all sides. In Aug. 1980 Egypt halted further talks with Israel citing Israel's continued settlement in the West Bank. Nevertheless, on Apr. 25, 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula in accordance with the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.
On Jun. 9, 1982, Israeli troops invaded southern Lebanon and Beirut, home of the PLO, in response to an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador in London. Nearly a year later, on May. 17, 1983, Lebanon and Israel signed a US-brokered peace deal, calling for Israel's withdrawal from the country. Israel withdrew from Beirut but kept troops in southern Lebanon where Syrians were encamped and continued to lob shells across the border into Israel. But the Lebanese government didn't press the matter because it had its own problems with a civil war, waged by its large Christian population against Muslim rule.
As Israel withdrew, Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, made arrangements to provide support to one of the rebel groups located near Beirut. . . It turned out to be a grave error.
On Sept. 14, 1983, Lebanese president-elect Bashir Gemayel was killed by a bomb that destroyed his party headquarters. The following day, Israeli soldiers invaded west Beirut but the Lebanese parliament continued to function and elected Gemayel's brother, Amin Gemayal, president on Sept. 20. Then, on Sept. 16, 1983, the Christian militia begin a 3-day massacre of 1,800 men, women and children in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
An Israeli commission investigated the refugee massacre and held Defense Minister Sharon (now Prime Minister) "indirectly responsible." Recently, survivors of the dead refugees have filed suit in international court, arguing that Sharon's culpability is much greater, and that he should be tried by an international tribunal for crimes against humanity. No one else has ever been blamed for the massacre.
Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national sovereignty since 1991 and the end of the devastating 16-year civil war. Since the end of the war, the Lebanese have conducted several successful elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government authority over about two-thirds of the country. Hezbollah, the radical Shi'a party, retains its weapons. Syria maintains about 25,000 troops in Lebanon, based mainly in Beirut, North Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. The Muslims in Southern Lebanon have continued to bomb Israel on a frequent basis.
On Nov. 8, 1985, Palestinian terrorist seized the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro and killed one person -- American Jew Leon Klinghoffer. Klinghoffer, a wheelchair patient, was thrown overboard while still in his chair.
In 1987 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank declared an Intifadeh (murder campaign), beginning a long period of riots and violence in the region. In 1989 PLO leader Yasser Arafat reversed decades of previous PLO practice by acknowledging in English Israel's right to exist and suggesting a willingness to negotiate for peace. No such proclamation was ever made in Arabic.
In 1992 Yitzhak Rabin became Israeli Prime Minister and halted Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The settlements had became a contentious issue with Palestinians even though 2 million Palestinians live among the Jews in Israel. Also, Israel never attempted to incorporate these settlements into Israel although the Israeli army and police provide security.
On Sept. 13, 1993, the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles (DOP) was signed in Washington, providing for a transitional period of Palestinian self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Granting of permanent Palestinian government was to be decided through direct negotiations, which resumed in Sept. 1999.
In May 1994 the Palestinian Authority assumed control of the Gaza Strip. Without leadership for domestic affairs, West Bank and regional economic prosperity plummeted over the next five years. Some argue that the economic downturn was largely due to restrictive Israeli border policies. Of course, that's just another way of saying that if the Jews would disappear, everything would come up roses. That argument ignores the fact that the Palestinians had spent the previous 3,000 years wasting all their energy hating Jews and had not achieved anything beyond making tents and killing people.
On Oct. 26, 1994, territorial disputes between Israel and Jordan were resolved by the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. Then on Nov. 4, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist and was succeeded by Shimon Peres. In May 1996 Benjamin Netanyahu was narrowly elected Israel's prime minister. With a more hard-line view, he objected to much of the DOP agreement, arguing that the Palestinians were granted too many concessions.
In Jan. 1997, Israeli and Palestinian authorities signed the Hebron accord, calling for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, the Israeli government angered the Palestinians by allowing the construction of more Jewish settlements in the West Bank, ostensibly to accommodate an influx of refugees from Russia. Later in the year, Hamas militants killed more than 20 Israeli civilians in suicide bombings.
In Oct. 1998 Israel/PLO negotiations resumed regarding permanent Palestinian self-government in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Although the two parties reached an agreement, the peace accord quickly began to unravel. In May 1999 Israeli elections were held, and Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon became a dominating issue in the campaign. Ehud Barak unseated Netanyahu and became Israel's new prime minister.
In Jun. 1999 Israel bombed southern Lebanon in retaliation for the constant shelling across the Israeli-Lebanese border. In Sept. 1999 Israel/PLO negotiations resumed regarding permanent Palestinian self-government. In Dec. 1999 Israel and Syria resumed talks, but the negotiations broke down the following month when Syria demanded, as a starting point, the complete return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. In Feb. 2000 Hezbollah forces attacked Israeli targets, leading to retaliatory strikes from Israel. Then in May. 24, 2000, Israel fully withdrew from Lebanon after a 22-year long incursion.
In Sept. 2000 Ariel Sharon visited a holy site in the West Bank and Palestinians went berserk leading to some of the worst violence in years. Nearly 400 people, mostly Palestinians, were killed. In Feb. 2001 Sharon handily defeated Barak in Israeli prime minister elections.
2 Nov. 2000: Two Israelis killed by a powerful car bomb at central Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, a frequent target of attacks. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack -- which came more than a month after Palestinians began a new uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza following the collapse of peace talks.
In the 13 months between November 2000, when Sharon was elected, and the end of 2001 -- 77 Israelis were killed in 15 separate suicide-murders and more than 400 Israelis suffered serious injury. The death of 77 Israelis -- when compared to the population of Israel -- is greater than the 2824 people killed in the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, the pro-rata total exceeds all deaths from the three attacks of 9.11.01.
27 Jan. 2002: Two people -- one a female suicide bomber -- die in an attack in a busy shopping area of central Jerusalem.
15 Feb. 2002: Three soldiers killed after powerful roadside bomb destroys an Israeli tank.
16 Feb. 2002: Two teenagers killed and 30 people injured in suicide bomb attack on a Pizzeria in Karnei Shomron.
18 Feb. 2002: Car bomber detonates device at a checkpoint, killing himself and a policeman.
2 Mar. 2002: Nine people killed including two babies, and 57 injured after suicide bomb attack in an ultra-Orthodox area of Jerusalem.
5 Mar. 2002: One person killed and several others injured in suicide bomb attack on a bus at Afula central bus station.
9 Mar. 2002: At least 11 people killed and 50 injured in suicide bomb attack on busy cafe in west Jerusalem, near the official residence of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
20 Mar. 2002: Seven people killed in a suicide bomb attack on a bus carrying mainly Arab laborers near the northern town of Umm el-Fahem.
21 Mar. 2002: At least two people killed and more than 20 injured in suspected suicide bomb attack in the center of West Jerusalem.
22 Mar. 2002: Bomber kills himself and wounds an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint at Salem, on Israel's border with the West Bank.
26 Mar. 2002: Three injured in car bomb blast near a shopping center in Jerusalem.
27 Mar. 2002: In the Israeli resort of Netanya, a bomber blows himself up at a hotel, killing 28 Israelis celebrating Passover.
Israel invades the West Bank.
29 Mar. 2002: A woman bomber kills herself and two others at a Jerusalem supermarket.
30 Mar. 2002: A suicide attack on a Tel Aviv restaurant leaves the bomber dead and 30 Israelis wounded.
31 Mar. 2002: Bomber attacks restaurant in Haifa, northern Israel, killing himself and 14 Israeli Jews and Arabs. On the same day, another bomber kills himself and wounds four people in an attack on an office for paramedics at the Jewish settlement of Efrat, south of Bethlehem.
1 Apr. 2002: A car bomb explodes in West Jerusalem killing the bomber and critically injuring a policeman inspecting the vehicle.
10 Apr. 2002: A suicide attack on a bus traveling near the Israeli city of Haifa kills at least eight people and injures dozens more.
12 Apr. 2002: A suicide bomb attack at a bus stop in West Jerusalem, kills at least six people and injures about 50 more. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Israel at the time to encourage Israel to withdraw its military forces from the West Bank and get back to peace talks.
There's no disputing that Israel has committed blunders over the past 54 years in dealing with the Palestinian situation. But as we used to say on the school grounds, "he started it." But, who started it is of little importance at this juncture . . . how the two parties view the possibility of a permanent solution is of great significance.
Ignoring the personalities of the two protagonist, Arafat and Sharon, still leaves an abyss wider than outer space. Palestinians, Arabs, Syrians, Persians, and other anti-Semitics world-wide, think that the UN was wrong in granting Israel a sovereign state in 1948. As long as religion -- Islam -- dictates political thinking, the two sides will never live in harmony.
Judaism and Christianity teach that war is OK to defend one's life, family, and country. But Muslims, beginning with Mohammed, teach that war, killing, and violence, is OK when used to spread the Word of Islam and to assert the Islamic faith. Mohammed's teachings of violence led to the Islamic Crusades. In plain language: that is uncivilized.
A thousand years ago, misguided Christians went through a phase of violence to spread the Word (Christian Crusades). The difference between Christians and Muslims is that some Christians have become civilized and now reject tenets of faith as rational political doctrine.
Palestinians have spent the last 54 years teaching their young that all Jews must die. Arabs agree. Not one Arab "leader" has the backbone or the humanity to step forward and denounce violence as a solution.
Those who are paying attention know one thing for sure. The current eruption of violence is not caused by a few Palestinians in the West Bank disgruntled over "occupied territory." The current situation developed as soon as the U.S. let Saddam Hussein know that he was on our terrorist list.
For over fifty years, the rich Arabian countries of the Middle East have NOT made a single move to alleviate the Palestinian refugee situation or to work out a pernanent peace. Neither has Europe; nor has the United Nations. The United States has consistently been the major contributor of money and effort to the Palestinian cause.
The rest of the world loves the West bank dispute because it serves their agenda of hating Jews. The area in dispute is considered "occupied territory" by terrorist and those who support Middle East terrorism like Germany, France, Spain, Italy, many black Americans, Socialist (liberal Democrats), MSNBC, Chris Matthews, and others who are so proudly anti-Semitic. Within the U.S., Republicans and conservatives have been the most outspoken supporters of Jews and Israel.
Yet, Palestinians hate America, and Jews don't like Republians and conservatives.
Source of factual events, dates: CIA World Factbook 2000.
All rights reserved. For details and contact information:
See License Agreement, Copyright Notice.