Which “World Vision”?
by Kirsty Walker
United Nations Resolutions 465 and 476
The following United Nations Resolutions are often cited by critics of Israel: Resolution 465, passed (unanimously) in response to Resolution 446 and letters by the Representatives of Jordan and of Morocco, the Chairman of the Islamic Group, and Resolution 476, passed (14 votes, and 1 abstention) in response to a letter by the Representative of Pakistan, the Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Neither of these Resolutions adequately define “the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967”, since all areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem taken by Israel in 1967 had been illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-1967.
These Resolutions are silent on the changes made to the “physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status” of Hebron following the Arab massacre of the ancient city’s Jewish community in 1929, and of Jerusalem when the Arab Legion expelled all Jews from East Jerusalem in 1948 and attempted to destroy evidence of the Jewish community that had lived there for centuries.
Neither of these Resolutions take into account the continual attacks by Syria on Israeli civilians living in the Galilee region, prior to Israel taking the Golan Heights in the 1967 war, nor the UN’s refusal to condemn or stop those attacks.
Although these UN Resolutions condemn Israel, they must be viewed in their broader historical context and in light of the political biases, attitudes and aspirations of the parties who called for the Resolutions to be brought in the first place. UN Resolutions are not the Gospel. They are partisan, political documents and should be treated as such.
Although unquestionably poor by international standards, the Palestinian people are not the “poorest of the poor”, nor are they the world’s most vulnerable people. New Zealand’s nearer neighbours, Tokelau (GDP $USD1000) and Papua New Guinea (GDP $USD2500), both have GDPs lower than that of Gaza, with significantly less international attention and support. Gazans have longer life expectancies than their neighbours in Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan or Turkey and their GDP exceeds those of Yemen and Pakistan.
The UNRWA receives approximately $USD1 billion annually, to spend improving the lives of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza. This compares to the $USD3.3 billion that the UNHCR has available to spend on over 15 million refugees in 123 countries.
Of the annual UNRWA budget, $200 million cash and $250 million worth of goods is given to Gaza every year. In addition to UNRWA funding, Gaza receives monies from the Palestinian Authority, and 160 non-governmental organisations and the World Bank.
Receiving such preferential treatment from the United Nations and the international community for more than sixty years, it is hard to understand why the Palestinian people are in such dire poverty. Where does all the money go?
The answer to this question is at the heart of the Middle East conflict: successive generations of Palestinian leadership have squandered much of the money on their ideologically driven obsession with destroying Israel and the Jewish people. There is no need for poverty to exist in Gaza or the Palestinian Authority administered territories; there is no need for any Palestinians to be still living in refugee camps.
None of the 750,000-1,000,000 Jewish refugees expelled from Islamic countries since 1948 remain in refugee camps, neither have they received any significant international assistance in their resettlement. The Palestinian people are used by their democratically elected leaders to maintain political pressure against the Jewish state, with the ultimate aim of destroying Israel and replacing it with an Arab Islamic state.
By electing to work with the Palestinian political leadership, while overlooking rather than challenging the extreme anti-Semitic ideology of Hamas, Fatah and the PLO, Christian aid and church organisations are effectively aiding and abetting these groups in the fulfilment of their ambition to destroy the Jewish state.
Who Will Wipe Away Their Tears?
There is an oft overlooked causal link between sufferings of the Palestinian people and their own religious and political leadership. I have read the World Vision report, Who Will Wipe Away Their Tears?, listing “the names of all the children killed since the start of the 2000 Intifada”. Yet if the Palestinian Liberation Organisation had not launched the second Intifada, how many of these children would still be alive today?
That Intifada was started by the Palestinians after Yasser Arafat rejected Israel’s offer at Camp David of “91% of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, with some Palestinian control over Eastern Jerusalem neighbourhoods as a capital of the new Palestinian state…”.
Today’s divided Palestinian leadership will still not accept anything less than a divided Jerusalem, a return to the untenable 1967 cease-fire lines, and the full right of return for descendants of Arab refugees from 1948, which, as they know, would signal the demographic end of a Jewish state. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, hoping to gain peace for land, the Palestinian people elected Hamas to lead them, and built an Islamist state whose primary raison d’être is the destruction of Israel. Any independent Palestinian state that is mooted by either Hamas or Fatah would be effectively “Judenrein”, with no Jews allowed to live there and, according to the PLO ambassador to Lebanon, no Palestinian refugees would be granted citizenship of such a state.
Is this the world-view that Christians should be happy to support unquestioningly? Is the Arab sponsored narrative the only side of the Middle East conflict that Christians should listen to? Why do a growing number of church leaders apparently take the side of Hamas, which has declared a commitment to increasing acts of terror, kidnapping and murder against Israeli civilians following Israel’s desperate agreement (October 2011) to swap 1027 Palestinian prisoners, including 450 known terrorists, in order to redeem kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit?
It appears that the United Nations, and not the Bible, is the final authority from which a number of high profile evangelical leaders draw their understanding of history and modern political reality. Perhaps this explains why some church leaders can turn a blind eye when Arab terrorists target Jews and the entire Islamic world calls for a divided Jerusalem as a precursor to the destruction of the Jewish people.
In relying on the Arab world’s and the UN’s narratives, rather than the Bible and a broader view of history to comprehend events in the Middle East, anti-Zionist, pro-Palestininian church leaders are perpetuating the injustice that the Church has committed against the Jewish people for centuries.
Appropriating God’s promises to the Jewish people for themselves and Arab Christians, using Jesus’ words against Jews but not against Arabs, and relying on partisan political explanations rather than Scriptural revelation to comprehend events in the Middle East, Christian aid groups offer succour to the very organisations who are seeking nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish people. Children are suffering in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority – and Israel – because Arab and Islamic leaders still desire the annihilation of the Jews more than the welfare of their own people.
As Christians, we should not be supporting such a hate-based ideology; rather we should be standing against it, and warning its adherents of the peril in which they place themselves. Isaiah chapters 14-16 and 34, Jeremiah chapters 47-49, Ezekiel chapters 25 and 35, the books of Obadiah and Nahum, the second chapter of Zephaniah: all these speak of God’s judgement against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Assyria and Philistia – the nations whose descendants make up modern Israel’s enemies. Zechariah 12 and Joel 3 describe God’s judgement against those nations that seek to divide God’s land. If God’s Word is authoritative and eternal, (and I believe it is) then these warnings need to be taken seriously today and delivered to those in the Middle East and the UN who are seeking to destroy Israel. When Jonah was sent by God to speak to the Assyrians, he took a message of “repentance or destruction”, not a food basket. Nowhere in Scripture is anyone praised for seeking the deaths of the Jewish people or for supporting the enemies of the Jews. Yet as Churches and Christian Aid agencies like World Vision support and rely upon political entities such as Hamas and the PLO/Palestinian Authority to explain the Middle East conflict, they are choosing to side with Haman against Mordechai.
The increasingly hard-line Islamist ideology that promotes the destruction of Jews also promotes the murder of Christians in Egypt, Iran, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Arab world. It is a culture of fear and violence, and as Christians we should not “be yoked” with its perpetuators. We should not unquestioningly condemn the Jewish people when they defend themselves from Islamist terrorist and military attacks against their civilians. If Christians are to be honest agents of reconciliation, we must first be honest about which parties are instigating and perpetuating the hatred and violence in the Middle East, which parties benefit from the continual discord. Providing moral and economic support to people who openly seek and celebrate the deaths of their neighbours, without challenging or condemning their violent actions is not Christian. It is sycophantic.
Israel has sought peace with its neighbours for over sixty years. It has given land, released captives, and provided medical care, aid monies and material goods to the Palestinian people, all in the vain hope of being allowed to live peacefully on land granted to it by history, by legal purchase, by conquest, by the Bible and by UN mandate. The Jewish state has never sought the destruction of its neighbours, but its citizens have to live every day behind security fences and military checkpoints, with bomb shelters and anti-missile shields, because every one of its neighbouring states seeks to destroy it. This is not paranoia; this is political reality.
There is no need for the poverty and suffering endured by the Palestinian people. To create political pressure against the Jewish state, Arab nations have squandered international aid monies and forced Palestinians to remain in refugee camps, rather than enabling them to settle and establish new homes and communities. For decades, Palestinian people have been indoctrinated, from childhood, with a message of hatred, violence and revenge – not reconciliation; they have been kept in poverty and despair until the prospect of dying as martyrs becomes appealing; they have been used as human shields and had their homes, schools, hospitals and mosques used for storing arms and for launching rocket and missile attacks into Israel. Palestinian and other Arab leaders should be held accountable for their treatment of the Palestinians. They should care more about their own people’s welfare than they do about destroying Israel.
If Christian organisations truly want to be credible agents of reconciliation and peace in the Middle East, they need to reconsider
- The promotion of anti-Israel propaganda, such as the controversial “With God on our Side” film,
- The willingness to alienate sections of the Christian community, as is demonstrated in its support of “With God on our Side”, which maligns Christians who support Israel,
- The apparent reliance upon the likes of Hamas, Fatah, the PLO and their sympathisers for formulating its understanding of what is happening in the Middle East, and
- The uncritical, unquestioning acceptance of United Nations’ Resolutions that pertain to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
 “In 2009, UNRWA’s total budget for its core programmes, emergency activities and special projects was US$1.2 billion, for which the Agency received US$948 million.” http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=87#funding
 The UNHCR annual budget rose to more than US$l billion in the early 1990s and reached a record US$3 billion in 2010, compared to US$1.8 billion in 2008.http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c1a.html, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c80.html
 “The PA alone wires an estimated $1.2 billion per year into Gaza banks, much of it as pensions and salaries for the 77,000 employees kept on the payroll even though they are not working. In fact, this estimate may be conservative; according to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, 54% of the PA’s $3.17 billion 2010 budget went to Gaza. … Cash is also transferred into Gaza by the 160 nongovernmental organizations operating there, by international organizations such as the World Bank and by foreign government aid organizations …”.http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=203323
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