Israel: The Twentieth Century Miracle-Part I
By Pastor Mark Barbee
In the beginning of the 20th century, very few Christians believed that
God still had a plan for the Jewish people. But a handful of Jews who had
suffered persecution in many countries of the world knew they would never
be safe anywhere but in their own country. Theodore Herzl was the father of
the Zionist dream. He met with a congress of Jews in Basel, Switzerland in
l897. There had recently been a wave of anti-Semitism in Russia, as well as
other nations of Europe. This l897 meeting became known as the First
The dream of a Jewish homeland began to take shape, but they had to
convince the world. Herzl made a prophetic note in his diary;
At Basel I founded the Jewish state....perhaps in five years, but
certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.
His prediction was only ll months short of the May l948 statehood. Little
did anyone know what cataclysmic events and horrors would take place that
would be the birth pangs of Zion. It would take two world wars and the
Holocaust to bring it about.
Bible Evidence for a Restored Israel
These events take on profound significance when one considers the
weight of evidence in the Bible. Not many of us realize that Deuteronomy
28 actually predicts two dispersions, or rather a captivity (v. 4l) and a world
wide dispersion (v. 64). It is the second dispersion (Diaspora) that is
referred to in chapter 30 when the Lord says:
The Lord will restore you from captivity and have compassion on you,
and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has
scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the
Lord you God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. And
the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed
and you shall possess it. Deut. 30:3-5
In that day the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim
the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from
Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and
from the islands of the sea. Isaiah ll:ll
By the end of the first world war, the Russian and Ottoman empires
had fallen and Palestine came under the British as a protectorate. Enter
Arthur Balfour. He was a British statesman who believed in a homeland for
the Jews. Until this juncture, the Zionists had thought of other possible
locations for their homeland. But the Balfour Declaration set forces in
motion for Palestine, declaring Palestine a Jewish homeland and allowing
Jewish immigration. At the time, only 66,000 Jews still lived in Palestine.
Millions were literally scattered to the four corners of the earth. There was
peaceful coexistence in Palestine. Not even the Arabs at this time thought
about a Palestinian state. They considered themselves Syrians. Even so, in
l922 part of Palestine was made into the Arab state of Jordan. 77% of the
mandate was given to them. The rest was reserved for Jews and Arabs. The
concept of an additional Palestinian state came only in response to Zionism
and Israel’s statehood.
Chaim Weizmann was a Russian Jew who worked with Balfour in
England to influence people. He said in l9l9, “We must have Palestine if we
are not going to be exterminated.” No doubt, many thought he was
exaggerating. He could see new forms of anti-Semitism, especially in
The British military did not like keeping the peace in the Mandate. At
the beginning there were 5l2,000 Muslims, 6l,000 Christians, and 66,000
Jews. The British saw Zionism as upsetting the status quo. So they often
opposed, in practice, the official British policy.
Trouble began with the Arab sack of the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem
in l920. Haj Amin Husseini was a local leader who sought power and stirred
up the riots. He became the leader and symbol of emerging nationalism.
Haj Amini was the Arafat of his day, using terror and strong arm tactics to
fan the flames of the Arabs. He took the position of Grand Mufti of
Jerusalem. He began the Arab “rhetorical competition” as one author put it.
Ever since Arab leaders have preached Jihad, holy war, against the Jews.
Each one tried to show that he believed more than another in the will of
Allah, the Palestinian state, or merely destroying the Jews. The troubles did
bring about a new British administration in the area. Ironically, the new
administration was more pro-Israel and for the next eight years things were
Immigration of Jews to America was closed in l924 and more started
going to Israel. In l925 was the opening of the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. This drew more intellectuals to the new homeland. As more
Jews immigrated, tensions grew.
Wailing at the Wall
The most sacred site left to the Jews in Jerusalem was the Wailing
Wall, the foundation stones of the old Temple which had been destroyed by
the Romans in 70 A.D. In l928 a small screen was placed at the wall to
divide the men from the women praying there. Because this is at the base of
the Temple mount where the Muslim Mosque stands, the Arabs used this as
an excuse to riot. In l929 a Jewish boy kicked a ball into an Arab garden
and the boy was stabbed to death. A riot ensued, egged on by the Mufti in
which l33 Jews were killed. ll0 Arabs were killed in the British restoration
In l930 and l93l, two Jewish defense organizations were founded.
The Haganah was a defensive force formed in anticipation of more Arab
violence. The Irgun was a terrorist organization that sought to achieve their
aims through violence. The latter usually created more problems for Israel
than it solved.
British Cold Feet
The White Paper of l930 signaled a new British policy statement that
favored a Palestinian nation over a Jewish homeland. This left a confusing
policy contradicting the Balfour Declaration. Despite this, there was still
increasing violence and loss of British soldiers.
In l933, the rise of Hitler to power and official anti-Semitism in
Germany started five years of immigration in which 50,000 came from
Germany. The Jewish population reached 400,000 in the thirties.
In l935 David Ben Gurion, the emerging leader of the Zionists, made
The disaster (anti-Semitism) is not limited to Germany alone. Hitler’s
regime places the entire Jewish people in danger. Hitler’s regime cannot
long survive without a war of revenge against France, Poland, and
Czechoslovakia.....perhaps only four or five years...stand between us and
that awful day
Revolts in Syria and Iraq also took place at this time against British rule.
In l936 a revolt in Palestine took place with the help of outside Arab
volunteers.. The Mufti opposed British rule. As a result, he was exiled,
where he continued to cause problems from wherever he resided.
Meanwhile, Ben Gurion increasingly played the role of George
Washington to the Jews. At the same time, Weizmann was their diplomat, a
Benjamin Franklin, trying to win favor in various countries for their cause.
A British Royal Commission was sent to evaluate the situation in the
Mandate. Weizmann made this impassioned speech to them:
Everything east of the Rhine is today in a position of neither life nor
death...six million people for whom the world is divided into places where
they cannot enter, and places where they cannot live.
At this time Ben Gurion made this declaration:
The Bible is our mandate...it was only the recognition of that right
which was expressed in the Balfour Declaration.
While these men were not religious, they saw the necessity of a Jewish
haven against the anti-Semitism of so-called Christian nations.
Partition: A Ten Year Struggle
Immigration increased, both legal and illegal. Britain ignored the
Nazi threat and held immigration down. European Jews in Hitler’s vise
were desperate to go to Palestine. The Mufti continued to cause trouble
from exile and spent some time in Berlin. He was charming, light skinned,
and disarming. He had an audience with Hitler, hoping to eventually take
power in a Palestinian state. Then in l94l he proclaimed Jihad against
Britain, his primary goal being against the Jews. His own words seem to
indicate that his hatred of Jews motivated him more than any love or loyalty
Like Pharoah, Haman and others before him, Haj Amin seemed as
demonically inspired as Hitler. This is more than scapegoating. In l939
Hitler had predicted his own justification for the Final Solution begun in
l942. In that year he quoted his own speech from l939:
...if Jewry should plot another world war to exterminate the Aryans, it
would be Jewry that would be exterminated.
This made no more rational sense in l942 than in l939 But Hitler’s “Final
Solution” would soon exterminate six million
The Jews of Europe were perishing and Palestine could do little about
it. Britain refused to expand immigration. This policy is beyond
comprehension, though no one knew the scope of what Hitler was doing.
There were some Jewish freedom fighters in Europe who helped about
l0,000 escape. Some of the Polish Jews and veterans of the Warsaw ghetto
made their way to Palestine in this underground. Menachem Begin was one
of these who became the leader of the Irgun, and, much later, prime minister.
How tragic that so few escaped
Though world opinion favored increased immigration of the
Holocaust survivors at the end of the war, Britain refused to budge, seeking
to keep up good relations with the oil rich Arabs, and so Jewish leaders
issued a proclamation at this juncture:
Jewish immigrants will stream to Palestine by all means.... the
Hebrew Book of Books will by its eternal strength destroy the White
Paper...the Jewish state will be established.
Since then, Israel has increased, while Britain decreased. America and
President Truman, on the other hand, favored immigration.
The King David Disaster
The stubborn refusal of the British to increase immigration led to
increased terrorism by the Irgun. In July of l946, they blew up the King
David Hotel, killing about 80 British, Jewish and Arab civil servants.
Finally, in l947 Britain submitted the fate of Palestine to the U.N.
General Assembly, thinking they would block a partition of Palestine. In a
surprise of history, Stalin’s government voted in favor of a Jewish state!
The Zionists received help from one of the most anti-Semitic countries. One
cannot help but wonder at God’s overruling power. Even so, Russian would
not allow Jews to leave until 1989.
Terror escalated as the British withdrawal approached. The Arabs
were armed freely at this point, while the Jews were prohibited from having
guns even to defend themselves. The Irgun killed many civilians in a
massacre at Deir Yassin. In reprisal, the Arabs ambushed a medical convoy
on the road to Haddassah hospital- 77 doctors, nurses and Hebrew
University people were killed. As statehood approached, the poorly armed
and outnumbered Jews faced annihilation by 40 million Arabs.