How and when was the state of Israel formed?2023-02-05T19:01:19+00:00

The modern state of Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, when Israeli Labor Party leader David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the new Jewish state. The background was the awakening in the mid 19th century of a desire among the Jews of the Diaspora for a country of their own. Pogroms and anti-Semitism in Europe also contributed to this development. In November 1917, through the Balfour Declaration, the British Government declared its support for the proposal to establish a Jewish homeland in the then British Mandate of Palestine.

At the San Remo Conference April 19–26, 1920, the victorious powers of World War I recognized the Balfour Declaration formulation of the “national home for the Jewish people” in the area and the historic bond between the Jewish people and the British Mandate of Palestine, which then included the entire area on both the west and east sides of the Jordan River.

In September 1922, the League of Nations and Great Britain then divided the area so that the Jewish National Home would be limited to the area west of the Jordan River, that is, only about a fifth of the original area. The area east of the Jordan River became the state of Transjordan, which later in the war year of 1948 changed its name to Jordan, because that country wanted to mark its annexation of areas west of the Jordan.

After the Holocaust of World War II, in which six million Jews were murdered, the UN General Assembly proposed on 29 November 1947 that the British Mandate of Palestine be divided into a Jewish and an Arab state. This was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the neighboring Arab countries. When the State of Israel was declared, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, plus a token force from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, invaded Israel, but were defeated by the Israeli forces.

Why is Jerusalem the capital of Israel?2023-02-05T19:00:33+00:00

The Bible describes how over 3000 years ago King David captured Jerusalem and settled there himself. The place was subsequently named the City of David (1 Kings 2:11, 2 Sam 5:5). These words about David confirm that the Jewish people have had a relationship with Jerusalem for about 3,000 years, something which is also confirmed by archaeological findings. After the death of King David, his son Solomon built a temple on the site that is now called the temple mount. The ark with the covenant tablets was moved to the “Most holy place” in the temple, and for more than 1000 years thereafter Jerusalem was the obvious capital of Israel.

About 400 years after the temple was built, the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and took the Jewish people into captivity. After 70 years in Babylon, the Jewish people returned to their land to rebuild the temple. This temple was then expanded by King Herod the Great shortly before the beginning of common era, but it was destroyed again, this time by the Roman general Titus, just under 2000 years ago.

Despite entry bans, deportations and massacres from the various empires that dominated the area during different eras, there has always been a Jewish presence in the country. Moreover, among the many Jews who lived scattered around the world, the dream of returning to Israel was kept alive for centuries. Several times a year they prayed – no matter where in the world they were – the classic prayer: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

The city has been occupied by Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans and British, but Jerusalem has never been the capital of any country other than Israel.
In 1949, the modern state of Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital. The year before, the city had been divided, since Jordan occupied the eastern part – which meant the expulsion of the Jews and the demolition of synagogues. Then in 1967 Jordan, together with 12 other Arab countries, formed a coalition against Israel, but this aggression was beaten back in the Six-Day War, and East Jerusalem came under Israeli control. In 1980 the Israeli parliament, Knesset, passed the “Jerusalem Law”, which declares all of Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

Why is moving embassies to Jerusalem controversial?2023-02-05T19:00:01+00:00

At the end of the 19th century, Jerusalem had only about 20,000 inhabitants, and was an insignificant and largely abandoned city on the outskirts of the Ottoman Empire; but after the turn of the century, the Jewish population increased. Jerusalem at this time had never been the capital of any country other than Israel. In 1917, in the First World War, the city was liberated from the Turks by the British General Allenby. Then, after World War Two, in November 1947 the UN Partition Plan for the British Mandate of Palestine proposed that Jerusalem would be an international zone for 10 years, and that the city’s residents would then decide the city’s future in a referendum. The Arab party rejected the partition plan and attacked Israel in May 1948 to wipe out the newly founded state but were defeated.

East Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan from 1948 until Israel gained control of the entire city in 1967. In 1980, the Knesset passed the “Jerusalem Law” which declared a united Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. The UN passed a resolution opposing the law, and Holland – one of the few countries that had an embassy in Jerusalem at the time – moved its embassy to Tel Aviv under pressure from the Arab world. Christians from Holland, among others, established the “International Christian Embassy” as an act of solidarity with Israel’s decision to choose Jerusalem as its capital.

Since Jordan lost control of both East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 and then through a war forced the Palestinian movement PLO out of the country, Arab nationalist demands for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital grew. The Islamic Conference with over 50 member countries decided in March 2016 that ‘the central issue’ for all the world’s Muslims is the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem. The Vatican, the EU, the UN and Russia have, based on political, religious and economic considerations, have supported this demand regarding the city’s final status. No other city in the world attracts the same interest from the international community.

Why is it important for Christians to have a commitment to Israel?2023-02-05T18:59:30+00:00

Modern European history shows that the place of the Jewish people in the community of nations has been challenged and needs to be defended. Israel is a democratic state with an independent legal system and a free press. The country has both freedom of speech and a great freedom of religion, which is completely unique in the entire Middle East. Israel is today in a vulnerable situation, with a series of dictatorships and terrorist organizations in the immediate area, where several of them want to wipe out the state of Israel.

Even in world politics, Israel has a vulnerable position. The UN and other international bodies have time and again given in to dictatorships and totalitarian regimes that have made common cause in international forums to vote through anti-human rights, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel proposals.

By providing a historical background, overview, and balance, as well as fighting anti-Semitism and guaranteeing the right of the land of Israel and the Jewish people to exist, we are simultaneously standing up for democracy, human rights and human dignity, both in the Middle East and in the rest of the world.

By supporting Israel, Christians defend their spiritual heritage. The Bible describes how God made a covenant with Israel to bless the whole world. “Salvation comes from the Jews”, Jesus said. We as Christians have been grafted into the true olive tree through our faith. Replacement theology – the idea that Christians have replaced the Jewish people in God’s dealings in history, is both wrong and has weakened the church, as well as clouded and politicized the theology of the church. Good and true relations with the Jewish people and the land of Israel will strengthen both the world-wide Christian communion and society at large.

Why don’t Jews believe in the Messiah/Jesus?2023-02-05T18:58:57+00:00

Many believing Jews are waiting for the Messiah. The Messiah in Judaism is the coming Saviour, the conqueror who will crush the serpent’s head, free the nation, triumph over sin and death, and gather the Jewish people to the land of Israel. The Messiah will also cause all the nations of the world to worship God.

The Old Testament, the part of the Bible that Jews and Christians have in common, describes the Messiah as a king or high priest who is a descendant of King David who will rule the Jewish people during the Messianic age. These biblical promises that the Messiah will save the Jewish people are still valid today.

Jesus himself was a Jew and preached to the Jewish people. Jesus’ first disciples were Jews. The first congregation formed in Jerusalem was an entirely Jewish phenomenon. These believing Jews worshipped in the temple, celebrated the Jewish festivals, and kept to the scriptures. Even when non-Jews began to come to faith in large numbers, Paul, the leading evangelist, himself a Jew, chose to turn first to the synagogues, and only then to all non-Jews, when he preached the gospel on his missionary journeys.

The belief that Jesus is the promised Messiah distinguishes the Christian faith from Judaism. The history of the Christian Church, many times characterized by replacement theology and anti-Semitism, has subsequently contributed to creating a distance from the Jewish people.
Although most today’s Jews do not see Jesus as their Messiah, there are many Jews both in Israel and in other parts of the world who define themselves as both Jews and Jesus-believers. Belief in the Trinity, on the other hand, is considered idolatry by Jewish rabbis who also believe that a Jesus-believing Jew is not a true Jew. However, Jews who believe in Jesus as the Messiah shall be eligible for the State of Israel’s Law of Return if they have Jewish parents or grandparents.

Why is the Sabbath so important to the Jews?2023-02-05T18:58:21+00:00

The day of rest is mentioned at the very beginning of the first book of the Bible, where God creates the world and then rests on the seventh day and blesses it. Sabbath is thus celebrated by Jews in memory of how God created the world and means that one refrains from all creative work, devotes himself to the family, studies the Torah, and rests. The Sabbath was also included in the covenant that God made with the Israelites after the exodus from Egypt.

Sabbath is celebrated weekly, from sunset on Friday evening until “three stars are visible” on Saturday evening.
The Sabbath celebration begins with lighting candles and eating a feast. On Saturday morning, a service is celebrated in the synagogues, when a section from the Torah is read and explained.

What does the Bible say about the return of Jews to Israel?2023-02-05T18:57:00+00:00

Here are some examples:
(All Bible references are taken from the English Standard Version ESV)

Deuteronomy 30:3–5
then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.

Nehemiah 1:9
but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’

Jeremiah 29:14
I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Ezekiel 11:17
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’

Ezekiel 20:34
I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out.

Zephaniah 3:20
At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the LORD.

How could the Holocaust happen?2023-02-05T18:56:31+00:00

The Holocaust’s ideological basis was National Socialism’s anti-Semitic and racial ideological worldview where the Aryan, Germanic race was described as superior, while the Jews were described as inferior and as participants in an evil world conspiracy.
A contributing cause was Darwinian explanatory models of social conditions with the emphasis on natural selection and the right of the strong. In addition, the Jewish legal consciousness challenged the lawlessness cultivated in Nazi Germany, and Hitler claimed that “conscience is a Jewish invention”. The Holocaust presupposed a long-term propaganda in which Jews were dehumanized step by step.

Replacement theology, anti-Semitism, and surrender to nationalist ideologies by Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches rendered the church powerless, clearing the way for National Socialism to carry out the holocaust unhindered. The indifference shown to the “Jewish refugee question” in Germany and Austria by the countries of the world during, for example, the Evian conference in the summer of 1938, confirmed that no one would intervene to prevent Hitler from proceeding with the “final solution”. Even Nazi Germany’s so-called Aktion T4 euthanasia program – which murdered tens of thousands of disabled people – initiated on September 1, 1939, was a test to see how German public opinion would react. After protests from the public and the church communities, Aktion T4 was cancelled in August 1941, but continued unofficially until the end of the war.

All sectors of society were involved in, or aware of, the Holocaust: media, judiciary, politics, business, education, culture and the church etc. The extensive bureaucracy and organization to facilitate the Holocaust’s genocide of millions of people on the European continent required the involvement of a large part of the society and required a majority of the countries of Europe to either be active in the project or to be passive without protest. Even the war situation in Europe itself and the terror that the police state of Nazi Germany exercised over its population created a widespread fear that paved the way for the Holocaust.

What do the peace agreements that several countries recently (2020) signed with Israel mean?2023-02-05T18:56:02+00:00

In mid-August 2020, diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE were normalized, with direct flights and open telephone lines being some of the results. For the first time ever, telephone lines to Israel were unblocked by the United Arab Emirates. The agreement was concluded via a telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed. In a joint statement, the three leaders said the UAE and Israel had “agreed to cooperate and set out a roadmap to establish bilateral relations”, and that Israel had agreed to halt the annexation of the so-called West Bank.

A few weeks after the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain also signed a peace agreement with Israel. Bahrain, together with Saudi Arabia, has allowed flights from and to Israel to fly over its airspace. Bahrain was one of the first Arab countries to abandon the boycott against Israel when it signed a free trade agreement with the United States in 2005.

In October 2020, Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize their relations. Sudan has participated in several wars against Israel, and after the Six-Day War in 1967 – which was preceded by threats from Arab countries to once again try to wipe out Israel – the Arab League in Khartoum decided in September of the same year to say three historic No’s: “No to peace with Israel, No to a recognition of Israel, and No negotiations with Israel”.

In December 2020, Morocco followed the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. At the same time, the United States recognized Morocco’s claim to the disputed Western Sahara region. Morocco had then officially been at war with Israel since 1948, when Morocco had a large Jewish population of about 250,000 people. The anti-Jewish riots of 1948 in connection with the proclamation of the State of Israel eventually forced the majority of Moroccan Jews to flee to Israel.

The above agreements mean that there are now six Arab countries that have made peace with Israel. Egypt had already concluded a peace agreement with Israel in 1979 through the then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and in 1994 Israel and Jordan also signed a peace agreement.

What does anti-Semitism mean, and how does it express itself today?2023-02-05T18:55:28+00:00

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is an intergovernmental organization founded by Sweden’s then Prime Minister Göran Persson in 1998. In 2016, the IHRA adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights has also adopted: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed against Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”. This definition was further strengthened by the Swedish government in 2020 with the inclusion of eleven examples. Among these are Holocaust denial, comparing Israel’s policies to Nazism, and holding Jews collectively responsible for the policies and actions of the State of Israel.
Anti-Semitism thus means other people treating and judging Jews differently – based on hostility, prejudice, or discrimination, for example – for the sole reason that they are Jews.

Antisemitism has different starting points:
– Nazi ideology was based on the alleged superiority of the “Aryan” and Germanic race and described a struggle between one’s own race and the Jewish race (and others) that must be defeated or annihilated.
– After the surrounding Muslim countries failed to wipe out the state of Israel in 1948, anti-Semitic stereotypes have become commonplace in school textbooks, media and political agitation in many Arab countries.
– Replacement theology and Jew-hatred throughout church history is another source of Jewish persecution and anti-Semitism.

Today a large proportion of the Jewish people live in the state of Israel, and anti-Semitism today is also directed against the Jewish state. The researcher Henrik Bachner writes in his doctoral thesis The Return: “anti-Semitism in Sweden after 1945 describes a far-reaching continuity between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism after the Second World War”.
Anti-Zionism is a form of racism that calls for the abolition of the Jewish state. The IHRA describes various forms of anti-Zionism directed at the State of Israel, including:
– accusing Jews as a people or Israel as a state of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust
– accusing Jewish citizens of other countries of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of the nations of which they are citizens
– denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example by claiming that the existence of the state of Israel has a racist starting point
– applying double standards by demanding behavior that is not expected or required of any other democratic nation
– using symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
– making comparisons of modern Israeli politics with that of the Nazis
– holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the State of Israel

How have the Jews been persecuted throughout history?2023-02-05T18:54:47+00:00

The book of Esther in the Bible describes how 2,500 years ago, when Ahasuerus was king, Prince Haman planned to exterminate the Jews in the Persian Empire. Queen Esther, herself a Jewess, together with Mordecai, saved the Jewish people from annihilation by uncovering the plot.
Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman world powers occupied and subjugated Israel in biblical times.

The Bar Kokhba Revolt from 132 to 135 AD against the Roman occupation led to the expulsion of most of the Jewish population from the region and a Temple of Jupiter was built on the ruins of the destroyed Jewish temple. The Jews, expelled from Jerusalem, then lived in the “diaspora” until the state of Israel was founded in 1948.

In connection with the Crusades 900 years ago, Jerusalem was besieged, and a cruel massacre annihilated the city’s Jewish and Muslim populations.
In the Middle Ages a wave of Jewish persecution swept across Europe.
In 1290 all Jews were expelled from England, in 1394 the same thing happened in France, and in 1421 the Jews in Austria were expelled.
In 1492, the Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, declared that all Jews who did not leave the country would be executed. About 200,000 Jews, whose ancestors had lived in the country for hundreds of years, were forced to flee.
The pogroms in Tsarist Russia and in Eastern Europe at the end of the 19th century led to hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing these often religiously and nationalistically motivated persecutions of Jews.

At the end of the 19th century, the Dreyfus Affair took place in France, a political legal scandal in which the Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of high treason and deported to Devil’s Island for life. The Jewish officer was later exonerated and the charge against him was revealed as a gross miscarriage of justice. During the trial, which was covered by the journalist Theodor Herzl, French anti-Semites demanded that all Jewish officers be forced out of the army, and later that all Jews be expelled from France. The Dreyfus affair attracted great international attention, and the affair led Theodor Herzl to realize that European anti-Semitism would never improve, which led to him writing the book “Der Judenstaat” (“The Jewish State”) and initiating the first Zionist Congress, whose stated goal was the formation of a Jewish state.

The Holocaust was the most extensive genocide in history; around six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany prior to and during World War II. The genocide took place by identifying and segregating the Jews, then rounding them up in ghettos on occupied land, and deporting them to concentration camps where they were exterminated by systematic murder.

Who is a Jew?2023-02-05T18:54:02+00:00

People who are born into a Jewish family, have a Jewish background or who have converted to Judaism are counted as Jews. A rabbinical definition is that those who have a Jewish mother are designated as Jews.

What is Palestine?2023-02-05T18:53:34+00:00

The Roman general Titus subdued the Jewish people and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. A few decades after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Roman emperor Hadrian wanted to make Jerusalem a Roman metropolis and banned all Jewish traditions. Many Jews then revolted under the leadership of Bar Kokhba.

In 135 Bar Kokhba’s rebellion was finally put down, and Hadrian decided to expel the Jews from Jerusalem and exterminate their religion. He sold all Jewish prisoners into slavery, banned the teaching of the Torah, renamed the province “Syria Palaestina”, and replaced synagogues with Roman temples.

Hadrian’s actions contributed to the Jewish people not regaining control of their homeland for over 1,800 years.
The UN Partition Plan of 1947 stipulated that the British Mandate of Palestine would be divided into a Jewish and an Arab state, which was rejected by the Arabs. When the State of Israel was proclaimed in accordance with this UN decision in 1948, Egypt occupied Gaza, while Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, an area today known as the West Bank. Until the Six Day War in 1967, there were no strong international demands for a Palestinian state.

When Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini proclaimed an independent Palestine in the Gaza Strip in 1948, it was annulled by Egypt, while Transjordan’s King Abdullah I, named himself “King of Arab Palestine” and annexed the West Bank.
King Abdullah was assassinated by followers of Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini in July 1951 while visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Since the six-day war of 1967, the Palestinian movement, with massive support from the international community, has established itself in the West Bank and Gaza.

Only in 1988 did Jordan renounce all demands on the West Bank, the same year that the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO proclaimed the independence of the Arab state of Palestine. The state was immediately recognized by the Arab world and by the communist vassal states of the Soviet Union. (No Western European country has so far recognized the Palestinian state, except for Sweden and Iceland).
Israel withdrew from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in 2005. Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority’s governing party Fatah in the West Bank have conflicted with each other since 2008, and President Mahmoud Abbas currently has no political control over Gaza. No free elections have been held in the Palestinian territories since 2006.

Which are the Jewish holidays?2023-02-05T18:52:33+00:00

The most important religious holidays:
• Shabbat: The seventh day of the week, which is a day of rest
• Rosh Hashanah: The Jewish New Year
• Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, when the high priest confessed the sins of the people and offered sacrifice in the Temple. Today a day of fasting, prayer, and worship, when you ask God and fellow human beings for forgiveness
• Sukkot: The Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the desert journey from Egypt to Canaan
• Simchat Torah: Feast of joy over the law when you dance with the Torah scrolls
• Hanukkah: Commemorates Judas Maccabeus’ rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem
• Tu Bishvat: The New Year of Trees
• Purim: Celebrated in memory of Queen Esther, who saved the Jews from the evil plans of Haman
• Pesach: (The Passover), celebrated in memory of the rescue from the angel of death at the exodus from Egypt
• Shavuot: Harvest festival and celebration of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai
• Tisha B’Av: Fast day commemorating how both the first and second temples were destroyed on this day

Other Israeli holidays and commemorations
– Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day
– Yom Hazikaron: Day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism
– Yom Ha’atzmaut: Israel’s Independence Day
– Yom Yerushalayim: Jerusalem Day, commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem
– Yom HaAliyah: Celebrated to honor those who immigrate to Israel
– November 30: a modern National Day of Remembrance for those who fled neighbouring
Arab countries and Iran when the state of Israel was proclaimed, and for the flight and
suffering of these Jews.

Why are the Jewish holidays so important to the Jews?2023-02-05T18:51:59+00:00

The Jewish holidays are often celebrated on the occasion of events mentioned in the Old Testament – Tanach – or in Jewish history. God instructs the Jewish people to celebrate the biblical festivals as part of their worship life, but also as an educational tool to pass historical, philosophical and spiritual knowledge to the next generation.

“Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out… you shall keep this service in this month… You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ Exodus 13: 4-8 ESV

The biblical festivals thus have a message and serve as a reminder of central events and important principles in the relationship between God and man, and in interpersonal relationships.

What holidays do Jews and Christians have in common?2023-02-05T18:51:18+00:00

The Christian Easter (or Passover) rests entirely on the Jewish holiday Pesach. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread in biblical times, the Jews gathered at the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast and sacrifice the Passover lamb. The Hebrew word pesach, which means “to pass by/over “, refers to how the angel of death in Exodus passed over all the houses where the doorposts had been smeared with the blood of a sacrificed lamb. It meant that the first-born Jewish male children were saved, while the first-born sons in Egyptian homes perished.
The vicarious sacrifice of the Passover lamb as the salvation from the angel of death is the very foundation and starting point of what Jesus did as the Lamb of God in his vicarious death for mankind.

Even Pentecost rests in a similar way on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which is both a harvest festival and is celebrated in memory of how God gave the Jews the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. The miracle of Pentecost occurred when the disciples celebrated Shavuot – the law was written in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and the first fruits of people who turned to the Lord could be gathered.

Why does Israel have settlements in the West Bank?2023-02-05T18:50:29+00:00

The West Bank is an area west of the Jordan River historically known as Judea and Samaria.

After the 1948 Arab War of Aggression against the newly formed Israeli state, the area was occupied and annexed by Transjordan, which changed its name to Jordan to mark its ownership of the area also west of the river Jordan. All Jews were then expelled from the area – without any international protests.
Israel took the area from Jordan during the Six Day War in 1967, and it is doubtful whether the concept of occupation is applicable, partly because Jordan no longer claims (since 1988) the West Bank, and partly because the West Bank was captured in connection with a defensive war against attacking neighbouring countries.

After the Oslo Accords in 1993, the West Bank was divided into three administrative sections where the final status of the area would be subject to an upcoming settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In area A (under the political and military rule of the Palestinian Authority) and B (under the rule of the Palestinian Authority but with joint Israeli and Palestinian security) there are no Israeli residents, and it is associated with danger to life as a Jew to be in these areas. There are roughly 2 million Arabs in the West Bank.
According to the UN, there are 650,000 Jews living in Area C (which is under Israeli rule), of which roughly 220,000 live in East Jerusalem.
There are 1.9 million Arabs with full Israeli citizenship in Israel, while Jews living in the West Bank must be protected by Israeli authorities for security reasons.

What does the Israel-Palestine conflict mean in brief?2023-02-05T18:49:55+00:00

At the heart of the conflict lies the fact that most leaders of the Arab world have consistently refused to accept the state of Israel and a Jewish population in the area. The Arab world with its 422 million inhabitants and almost 600 times the land area of Israel has fought several wars against Israel, with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel and throwing the Jews into the sea. The UN partition plan in 1948 was rejected by the Arab countries, and when Jordan then conquered East Jerusalem, all Jewish residents were immediately expelled.
About 700,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab world after the 1948 War of Independence, when the invading Arab armies failed to destroy Israel.

The majority of Muslim and Arab countries still refuse entry permits to people with Israeli passports.
The Arabs who left their homes in connection with the Arab countries’ war of aggression against Israel in 1948 have received the full support of the international community, unlike the Jewish refugees after the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Jews in Europe and the Jewish refugees from Iran and the Arab world.

While all other refugee efforts from the UN via the refugee agency UNHCR are about integrating and including refugees in their new environment, the UN agency UNRWA instead aims to make the Palestinian refugee situation permanent. No other refugee in the world can similarly inherit their refugee status for generations.

After losing several wars of aggression against Israel, during a summit in Sudan’s capital Khartoum shortly after the Six Day War in 1967, the Arab League said: No to peace with Israel, no to negotiations with Israel, and no to a normalization of relations with Israel.
At the same time, the Arab world changed tactics. After Egypt and Jordan lost control of what is now defined as the Palestinian territories in 1967, the Muslim world, with the help of the communist dictatorships of the Warsaw Pact and the Socialist International, highlighted the Muslim population’s demand for independence as a means of pressure against Israel. Before 1967, there was no strong national Palestinian movement in Gaza or the West Bank.

Never before in history has there been an independent country named Palestine, and Jerusalem has never been the capital of any country other than Israel.

What is the situation of the Messianic congregations in Israel?2023-02-05T18:49:12+00:00

Compared to the rest of the Middle East, where the percentage of Christians has fallen dramatically in recent years, Israel has a large measure of freedom of religion and freedom of speech, even for Messianic (Jesus-Messiah believing) Jews, although Messianic Jewish communities or individuals have been harassed by orthodox and ultra-orthodox groups.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence, read in May 1948 by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, reads:
“Israel will ensure full equality in social and political rights to all its residents, regardless of religion or gender; the country guarantees freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will protect the holy places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the United Nations Charter.”

In March 1992, the Knesset adopted a constitution on human dignity and freedom, which declares Israel a “Jewish and democratic” state. Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that basic human rights, such as the right to freedom of religion, conscience and expression – are protected in Israel, as this is part of the dignity of a human being.
Israel is a Jewish state with large religious minorities. About 75 percent are Jews, 20 percent are Arabs who are mostly Muslims, but there is also a large group of Christians. Almost 400,000 Israelis do not have a religion or practice religions other than those mentioned above.
Jewish organizations in Israel reject Jesus-believing Jews as part of Judaism. The stumbling blocks are the view of Jesus as the Messiah and the doctrine of the Trinity, both being dismissed by Jews as idolatry. Several Jewish organizations in Israel believe that the biblical prophecies (from Isaiah 53, for example) that Messianic Judaism invokes as proof of the Messiah’s suffering and death, have been interpreted incorrectly.

Missionary activity in Israel is controversial, especially when it comes from Messianic Jewish groups, seen by some as traitors. However, it is permissible for everyone to express a worldview, including religious beliefs, even if they are not accepted by the majority. The law prohibits a person from trying to induce another person to change his religion through material benefits. It is also forbidden to persuade a minor to change their religion. To date, no one has been charged or convicted under these laws.
Messianic Jews shall be eligible for the State of Israel’s Law of Return if they can claim Jewish ancestry.

Why is there a boycott of Israeli goods in many countries?2023-02-05T18:48:26+00:00

In addition to regular wars of aggression, the Arab world has long used economic pressure to weaken Israel. The oil crisis in the 1970s is a clear example of how countries with good relations with Israel were punished by oil-rich Arab countries led by some of the Middle East’s most repressive despots.

Arab League member states also boycotted non-Israeli companies doing business with Israel. Companies that did business with companies that in turn did business with Israel were also blacklisted. However, several Arab countries have subsequently abandoned this boycott.
Israel has only been marginally affected by these economic boycotts. In 2020, Israel was among the 20 countries in the world with the highest GDP per capita, according to the business magazine Forbes.

The “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement was started by Palestinian activists with the stated goal of isolating Israel economically, academically, culturally, and politically. Ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May 2019, the BDS movement called on artists and musicians to boycott the music festival because Israel was the host.
The day before the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, the German parliament, the Bundestag, decided to label the BDS movement as an anti-Semitic organization.

“The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-Semitic,” the German parliament ruled. The motion noted that BDS campaigns calling for the labelling of Israeli products with “do not buy” labels are reminiscent of the Nazi regime’s boycott of Jewish businesses.
The House of Representatives, the US legislative assembly, also voted at the end of July 2019 with a large majority for a resolution rejecting the boycott movement BDS. The resolution said the BDS movement “undermines the possibility of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions only to one side and encouraging the Palestinians to forgo negotiations and instead rely on international pressure.”

What is the background to the conflict in the Gaza Strip?2023-02-05T18:47:37+00:00

During World War I, the Ottoman Empire lost the Gaza Strip to the British Empire. Thus, Gaza became part of the British Palestine Mandate under the League of Nations. In the UN partition plan in 1947, the Gaza Strip was supposed to become part of an Arab state, but the plan never became a reality because Egypt occupied the area in connection with the war against Israel the following year. Egypt then formally annexed Gaza.

When Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini, who during World War II recruited Bosnian Muslims into Hitler’s Waffen-SS, subsequently proclaimed an independent Palestinian state in Gaza, the decision was overturned by Egypt.

Israel captured the Gaza Strip after the Six Day War in 1967. The Oslo Accords in 1993 gave the Palestinian Authority control over Gaza, and the Israeli army partially withdrew from the area. In 2005, Israel forced the evacuation of all Israeli residents of the Gaza Strip, and today there are no Jews living in the area.

Many in the Palestinian population are supported by UNRWA as second, third and fourth generation refugees.
Since 2001, more than 20,000 missiles have been fired from Gaza at civilian targets in Israel. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza have support from Iran. Israel’s army has repeatedly entered the area to disarm launch pads and missile depots.
Both Egypt and Israel have imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas came to power in 2007. Both Egypt and Israel justify the blockade as necessary to avoid arms smuggling.

How has Israel handled the Corona-virus pandemic?2023-02-05T18:46:40+00:00

Israel was the fastest country in the entire world to vaccinate its population. As early as mid-February 2021, 50 vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants had been injected, when the country was vaccinating between 150,000 and 200,000 people per day, around the clock. The reason why Israel did so well was that the country bought many vaccine doses quickly.

Israeli promises to share data about their rapid vaccination campaign helped Israel secure a favourable supply agreement with Pfizer. The vaccine maker agreed to continue delivering the doses quickly in exchange for partial access to the large database of information maintained by the country’s national health system.

By the end of May 2021, 63 percent of the population had received at least one dose, which was twice the proportion of the population in Europe and six times the proportion of the rest of the world.
The country is also at the forefront when it comes to research against Covid and sharing its successes. Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed a rapid and cost-effective test to identify Covid-19 within hours instead of days.

What could be the explanation why Jews are behind so many of the world’s important innovations?2023-02-05T18:45:39+00:00

Nicknamed “Startup Nation”, Israel ranks first in the world in terms of the number of start-ups per citizen. In Israel, one company is started annually per 1400 people, (compare France, which has 0.112 newly started companies for the same number of inhabitants, and Germany, with 0.056 startups per 1400 inhabitants, while the corresponding figure for the UK is 0.21).

Technology companies such as Facebook, Apple, IBM and Microsoft have all chosen to establish research and development centers in Israel. Jews, who make up only 0.2 percent of the world’s population, have been awarded over 20 percent of all Nobel Prizes.
One reason for this development is the power of example, and that success is contagious. Also, Israel has a very small area, which facilitates communication. The country’s vulnerable situation and the population’s habit of facing great challenges have confirmed the saying that necessity is the mother of invention.

Israel’s culture of innovation and technological influence around the world is also connected with the country being forced to prioritize its defense industry for its survival. Military service trains leaders who are given great responsibility and have to think outside the box. Technical innovations that have been created to defend the country then reach a civilian market. Israel’s intelligence service is at the forefront of cyber-espionage, which in turn helps the development of the IT industry.
Necessity, scarcity and hardship have given Israel a survival strategy that calls for solutions that are both creative and quick. A high level of knowledge-sharing between the various actors in Israel contributes to rapid development and in-demand solutions that help global companies.
As a persecuted group, Jews have always had to work harder to reach the top. Jewish families have always emphasized education, and Jewish culture fosters critical thinking, analysis, and debate.
For nearly 2000 years of dispossession, Jews have had to read and study to practise their Judaism. Literacy prevented them from being assimilated, and literacy and economic development are linked. The exclusion of the Jews has given Jews a scepticism that can question both authorities and established “truths”.

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