Statement Regarding Australian Government policy of “Occupied Palestinian Territories”

Statement Regarding Australian Government policy of “Occupied Palestinian Territories”

 We represent hundreds of thousands of Australian Christians. We are dismayed by your announcement on  Tuesday 8 August 2023 that you will refer to Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem as “Occupied  Palestinian Territories” (OPT).  

The phrase wrongfully implies that Israel has no legal title in Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem, and that Gaza is  occupied by Israel. It suggests that any Jewish presence in places where Jews have lived for thousands of  years, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem including Judaism’s most sacred, ancient and Holy  site, the Kotel and Temple Mount reside is “illegal”, simply because Jordanian forces ethnically “cleansed” it  of Jews between 1948 and 1967. 

Minister, you should be aware that the basis for Israeli claims to parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem  include,  

  • the international legal mandates for the establishment of a Jewish homeland there, under the League  of Nations in 1920 and renewed under the UN in 1945;  
  • the doctrine of succession of territorial title within the boundaries of the previous British government  at the time of Israeli independence in 1949;  
  • the absence of a competing legal sovereignty in the West Bank at the time of Israeli occupation in 1967;  the absence of any international rule at that time prohibiting acquisition of land taken in a war of self defence;  
  • the Jewish right of self-determination in indigenous land in Judaea and Samaria; and  the security imperatives of control on the hills overlooking Jewish population concentrations in the  coastal centre of Israel. 
  • There has never been any legal commitment, legal document, treaty, agreement, contract or formal  binding resolution that has determined that the territories belong to the Palestinians – or that they are  under Palestinian sovereignty. (UNSC Chapter VI Resolutions are recommendations and not binding, as  are UNGA Resolutions). 

Concerning Gaza, Israel evacuated its military forces and civilians in 2005. Israel no longer has military forces  there, Gaza is self-governed, and Egypt also has a land border with Gaza beyond Israeli control. Therefore,  Gaza is in no way “occupied”. 

The West Bank can be described as disputed territory because Israel gained control of it in a defensive war  and relinquishing all control would pose an existential threat. For Australia to prejudice peace negotiations  by unilaterally declaring borders in a disputed territory is absurd and will only entrench Arab intransigence.  

We respectfully urge you to reconsider and to correct this government policy.

See the full letter and the undersigned organisations:

A Biblical Hope for Gaza

A Biblical Hope for Gaza

“Can we ever live together in peace?” asked my Orthodox Jewish friend. She was despairing over the situation in Gaza and the ongoing fermenting of terrorism by radical Islamists. Like her, many of her fellow Israelis have lost hope in a future peaceful co-existence with their Palestinian neighbours and especially with those living under Hamas in Gaza.

‘Will there ever be peace?’ my Orthodox friend repeated. I found myself unable to answer her question, and decided to study the Scriptures to see what the Bible reveals about the future of Gaza.

What I found surprised and excited me, and gave me hope that this horrible situation will one day be turned into a beautiful picture of co-existence and harmony in submission to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

Gaza in Bible Times

During Old Testament times, Gaza was the home of Israel’s feared archenemy – the Philistines. It was from Gaza city that Samson carried away the city gates up to hilly Hebron (an impressive feat!), and it was here that Samson spent his days in prison until his spectacular death while tearing down the Temple of the Philistine god Dagon.

Many might find it surprising that the Bible record places the territory of Gaza within the inheritance God allotted to the tribe of Judah (see Joshua 13:1-3, 15:21,47). God has outlined many specific promises to the Jewish people throughout the Scriptures. The unconditional promise of specific land including Gaza as part of their inheritance is one of many yet unfulfilled promises of the Scriptures. We know that God is faithful to keep His promises, and I therefore believe that at some point in the future God will place Gaza firmly under Israeli control.

The Judgment of Gaza

But what about the Palestinians living in today’s Gaza? Although modern Palestinians are not descended from this ancient and long-extinct Philistine people, Palestinians have inherited much the same geographical areas and share a similar antagonistic relationship with Israel just like the ancient Philistines.

The destiny of Gaza and her Palestinian inhabitants is foretold in the prophecies of Zephaniah and Zechariah. In the context of “the day of the Lord’s anger”, Zephaniah 2:4 foresees a time when Gaza shall be ‘forsaken’ or abandoned. In verse 5, the Lord pours out judgment on Gaza, and in verses 6-7, the prophet foresees the coast of Gaza being allocated for the ‘remnant of the house of Judah’.

Similarly, Zec. 9:5 predicts that the ‘king shall perish from Gaza’. Ultimately the spiritual law of sowing and reaping will come into effect, and the terror that has emanated from the mouth of the Gazan leadership will return in judgement upon these leaders. God is a God of justice, and will in His timing render to ‘each his due’.

Is there Hope for Gaza?

It is important to note that the very same Scriptures that predict the judgment and destruction of Gaza, also give a message of radiant hope for the ‘remnant of Gaza’.

Zec. 9:7 (NKJV) says that those who remain in Gaza shall:

  • “Be for our God”
  • “Be as a governor in Judah”
  • “Be as a Jebusite”

The first promise tells us that the remnant of Gaza shall experience a great turning to the Lord – the Lord God of Israel. They shall not all be wiped out, but many shall have a change of heart and turn from a religion of violence to the find the true Prince of Peace.

The second promise is that this remnant of Gaza is to be ‘as a governor in Judah’. The word ‘governor’ can also be translated intimate friend. Not only will the remnant of Gaza turn to the Lord, but they will also become true friends of Israel. What an amazing miracle! Furthermore, the word translated ‘governor’ is today used to describe officers in Israel’s army. Perhaps this scripture is foretelling that one day Gazans will become trusted leaders in Israel’s army!

The third and final promise reinforces the first two promises given to the remnant of Gaza. This promise confidently declares that this remnant will one day be ‘as a Jebusite’.

Who were the Jebusites? The Jebusites were an ancient people who once controlled Jerusalem.  Many Jebusites remained living among the people of Israel after the conquest of Canaan – and the most famous of these Jebusites in Scripture is Araunah. Araunah was going about his daily business as the owner of a threshing floor, when in 2 Sam. 24 King David comes rushing to him. At the time, divine judgment was coming on Israel, and an angel assigned to destroy Jerusalem was spotted at Araunah’s threshing floor.

As King David encounters Araunah, we can observe several key facts about this Jebusite and his relationship to Israel’s King, People and the God of Israel (2 Sam 24:18-23):

  1. Although he lived among the people of Israel, Araunah was still known as a Jebusite and maintained his separate identity
  2. He bowed down and honoured the King of Israel and even described himself as the King’s servant
  3. Araunah believed in and honoured the God of Israel

Zechariah’s prophecy foreseeing the Gazan remnant being ‘as a Jebusite’ thus tells us that the remnant of Gaza will live among the Israelites, but maintain their own separate identity. It further foresees that they will live in peaceful submission to Israeli authorities, and ultimately that they will turn to and believe in the Lord God of Israel.

Yes, There is Hope for Gaza!

To answer the question of my Orthodox Jewish friend, I believe that despite the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, there is indeed hope for Gaza. A day of reckoning is coming for wicked terrorist leaders unless they repent. On the other hand, the Scriptures give us hope for a remnant from Gaza which will one day live peacefully among Israelis, be in submission to the Israeli government and most importantly be believers in the one true God of Israel.

In these days of escalating Palestinian / Israeli tensions, let us pray for the Lord’s mercy on individuals on both sides of the conflict. Let us pray that His spirit will be poured out on both sides in an even greater measure, and for a continued strengthening of the unity between Arab and Israeli Believers. Let us also look forward to the prophetic destiny of the remnant of Gaza knowing that at some point they will be turning to the Lord and in fact become true and trusted friends of Israel.

Born in A Day – Israel’s 70th Anniversary

Born in A Day – Israel’s 70th Anniversary

Isaiah 66:8 records the famous question ‘can a nation be born in a day?’ 2’700 years later the question was answered. Despite insurmountable odds, Israel – armed with help from above and the heroic courage of its men and women – was born in a day on May 14, 1948.

In this article we are going to look at three unique heroes of Israel’s miraculous modern-day re-birth.

Golda Meir – An Amazing Fundraiser

Golda Meir is famous for becoming Israel’s first female Prime Minister in 1969. However, many are unaware of the pivotal role she played in 1948.

Israel desperately needed modern weapons if it’s rag-tag band of Jewish fighters were to stand a chance against the impending onslaught by five modern Arab armies.

However, their main funding source – the US Jewish community – was already stretched to the limit with various local projects such as schools and other Jewish institutions. They were growing tired of the incessant appeals for help from the Jews of Palestine, and it was estimated that they would only be able to raise $5 million for Israel – just a fraction of the amount needed.

Zionist leader Golda Meir immediately volunteered to go to America. Two days later she was on her way having had no time to bring any more baggage than her handbag! Armed with $10 in her pocket, the determined Golda set out in search for the missing millions.

Coinciding with her arrival in Chicago was a meeting of the leaders of Jewish federations from across the US. However, many of these distinguished Jewish leaders were indifferent or even hostile to Golda’s Zionist ideas.
Warned not to address this particular group, Golda ignored the warning and delivered a rousing impromptu speech to the gathering about the dire challenges facing the fledgling state. Explaining that the survival of Palestine’s 700’000 Jews as well as the whole dream of a Jewish nation was at stake, she stressed the absolute immediate need for funds to fight. As she ended her speech, the hall fell eerily silent – and for a moment it seemed like Golda had failed miserably. Then the audience rose and delivered a resounding applause, and many began telephoning their bankers to take up immediate personal loans. By the time the evening was over, over $1 million dollars had been raised! Over the next few weeks, Golda succeeded in raising 50 million dollars – which was three times the amount Saudi Arabia earned during that entire year from its vast oil revenues!As Golda triumphantly returned to Israel, Ben Gurion solemnly declared that ‘it was thanks to a Jewish woman that the Jewish state was born’.

Haim Slavine – An Engineering Genius

While many people are unaware of Golda’s contribution in 1948, even fewer have ever heard of Haim Slavine.
In the wake of the end of World War 2, the US decided to close down parts of its armament industry and convert the valuable machinery to scrap metal.
Learning of this plan and knowing Israel’s desperate need for weapons, Haim set off for New York. He found technical magazines with pictures of the machinery and used his photographic memory to memorise from these photos all the parts that were needed. He then assembled a team of scavengers to scour through junkyards all over the country looking for the required pieces.

The pieces were sent one-by-one to New York where Haim succeeded in putting them together into working order machinery capable of a daily production of 50’000 bullets as well as an assembly line production of machine guns (requiring 1500 operations!).

The next puzzle Haim had to solve was how to get the machinery past the British blockade of Palestine. He ended up taking every piece of machinery apart again even to the very last nut and bolt and labelled all the pieces with a unique code he invented. He then scrambled all the pieces together and sent them in crates labelled ‘farm equipment’ to kibbutzes all over Israel. Once safely in Israel, Haim re-assembled the 75’000 pieces of machinery into working order and could boast by the end of it that he had not lost one single bolt, screw or washer in the shipment!

It is stunning to read of Haim’s genius, and through this engineering feat we can easily see the hand of God at work – making a way for the Jewish nation to defend itself in the upcoming conflict.

Foreign Volunteers

Over 4’500 volunteers from abroad – both Jews and non-Jews – joined Israel’s struggle in 1948.
One such hero was the 23 year old Esther Callingold from Britain. A nurse by profession, she was sent to assist the beleaguered Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem. As the Arabs cut off all supply routes and subjected the area to heavy bombardment, Esther was tasked with running messages between the scattered and isolated Jewish troops. The battle was intense, but ultimately Esther ended up mortally wounded in a poorly equipped hospital. Before her death, she penned this letter to her parents in Britain:
“Dear Mummy and Daddy,
…. We had a difficult fight. I have tasted hell, but it has been worthwhile because I am convinced that we will see a Jewish state…. I hope one day soon you will all come and enjoy the fruits of that for which we are fighting.
…. remember me only in happiness.
Shalom, Esther”

It is hard not to be touched by Esther’s story of courage and sacrifice, and we should remember that she was only one of 6’300 Israeli soldiers and civilians who paid the ultimate price during Israel’s costly War of Independence.

Ultimately through the hard work, creative genius and sacrifice of so many heroes like these we have described, the nation of Israel was born ‘in one day’ as Isaiah predicted. It was not an easy birth, but let us give thanks to God for those who paid so much to see the Jewish nation restored to her rightful inheritance. In honouring their sacrifice, let us follow Esther’s admonition to go and visit and enjoy the God-given Land of Israel.