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Whose Land? Whose Promise?: What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians. Paperback – October 30, 2013
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From the Author
This is a new, revised edition of the 2004 volume that takes into account developments over the last ten years and addresses all reader/reviewer comments.
About the Author
Gary M. Burge (PhD, King's College, Aberdeen University) is a professor of New Testament in the Department of Biblical and Theological Studies at Wheaton College and Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois. Gary has authored a number of books, including Who Are God s People in the Middle East? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians; John and Letters of John in the NIV Application Commentary series; The New Testament in Antiquity (coauthored with Lynn Cohick and Gene Green); and the first three volumes in the Ancient Context, Ancient Faith series, The Bible and the Land and Jesus, the Middle Eastern Storyteller, and Encounters with Jesus. Gary specializes in the Middle East, its churches, and its history in the Hellenistic period.
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What is commendable about this book is that Dr. Burge affirms and identifies the hope and promise that is present in the Holy Land among the Israelis and the Palestinians Christians. As one who travels there and knows personally the strife's, I see the Church enduring, ministering, and proclaiming the Light of the World that is desparately needed in a land darkened by selfishness and conflict.
For example, Rev. Dr. Burge falsely states that Arabs and Jews renew their drivers’ licenses on different days of the month (when in fact they renew their licenses on their birthdays).
Rev. Dr. Burge also uses a quote from the journal of Zionist leader Theodor Herzl to argue that he wanted to remove Arabs “bodily” from Palestine, when at the time Herzl wrote the entry he was intent on settling Jews in South America. And again, the source he uses for this quote (an abbreviated version of Herzl’s diaries) does not include the quote in question.
The quote is present in Herzl’s complete diaries, which include numerous references to settlement in South America, but not in the abbreviated diaries that Rev. Dr. Burge cites. By citing the wrong text, (which does not include the quote), Rev. Dr. Burge deprives his reader of important context.
Here are some other errors:
On page 27, the author reports that “From 1971 until 1982 the Palestine Liberation Organization . . . waged numerous conflicts with Israel in an attempt to redress the refugee problem.” This minimizes the PLO’s rejectionism. The PLO was founded in 1964 – three years before the Six Day War – and its goal was the destruction of Israel, not merely a resolution of the refugee problem. The Palestinian National Charter approved in 1968 called for the “total liberation of Palestine,” “the elimination of Zionism in Palestine” and expressed hopes for the destruction of the “the Zionist and imperialist presence” in the Middle East. The charter also stated “Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.”
On page 43, the author reports that Israel took possession of East Jerusalem and the West Bank (which were held by Jordan) and the Golan Heights (which was held by Syria) without reporting that Israel was attacked first by Jordan and Syria before taking possession of these territories. Israel’s pre-emptive strike was launched on Egypt, not Jordan and Syria.
On page 55, the author fails to report that the Palestinians failed to make a counter offer during peace negotiations at Camp David in 2000. “Never, in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians, was there a Palestinian counterproposal,” said former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami in September, 2001. (See Ari Shavit, “End of a Journey,” Haaretz, Sept. 13, 2001.) Dennis Ross, former special Middle East coordinator in the Clinton administration, described the negotiations as follows: “The big difference between the two sides was, [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Barak, in the end, was prepared to confront history and mythology, and make decisions; and Arafat gave no indication that he was prepared to confront history and mythology and make decisions.” (See Dennis, Ross, Margaret Warner and Jim Hoagland, “From Oslo to Taba: Setting the Record Straight,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 14, 2001.
The author also omits that the Palestinians rejected the Clinton Parameters (which the Israelis accepted) put forth by then President Bill Clinton a few months after the collapse of Camp David negotiations. Former President Clinton to said the following in response to Arafat’s death in November, 2004: “I regret that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring [a Palestinian state] into being and pray for the day when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace.”
On page 58, the author reports that visitors to Israel will see a security barrier “surrounding a city like Bethlehem.” The security barrier does not surround Bethlehem but separates it from Jerusalem. There is no security barrier on the eastern and southern sides of the city. (Numerous maps of the barrier can be found at CAMERA’s website, [...].)
On page 70, the author describes the “Free Gaza” flotilla that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza as follows: “Ships with 700 international activists. The Israeli Navy intercepts, 16 killed.” Passengers on board the Mavi Mamara, (where a total of nine – not 16 – deaths occurred), attacked Israeli soldiers as soon as they landed on the vessel. Israeli soldiers, who were equipped with paintball guns, were beaten with iron bars, had their side arms stolen, and were stabbed with knives. (See Alex Safian, “Latest Video Clips -- Gaza Flotilla Incident,” CAMERA, June 20, 2012.) Prior to the flotilla some of the passengers chanted “Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!" (“Khaibar” is a reference to a 7th century battle that resulted in the extirpation of Jews from the Arabian Peninsula.) (See Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Gaza flotilla participants created war atmosphere before confronting Israel: Participants chanted Islamic battle cry invoking killing of Jews and called for Martyrdom,” Palestinian Media Watch, May 31, 2010.) The people who engaged in these actions are combatants, not “activists.”
On page 151, the author states that Israeli identification cards and drivers’ licenses “indicate if the driver is Jewish or Arab” and that “Jews renew their licenses on the fifteenth of the month, non-Jews on the first.” There is no reference to ethnicity on either licenses or identification cards. Drivers’ licenses are renewed on the holder’s date of birth.
On page 152, the author mis-characterizes Israel’s Law of Return. The author fails to mention the 1970 amendment to this law that allows anyone with one Jewish grandparent and who has not converted to a non-Jewish religion to claim Israeli citizenship.
On page 157, the author’s description of the July 13, 1948 expulsion of the inhabitants of Lydda omits a crucial fact: The expulsion was a self-defense move that took place after militia in Lydda violated the terms of a surrender that had been negotiated between the IDF and the city’s leaders on July 11, 1948. The militia attacked and mutilated the bodies of five Israeli guards, prompting another round of fighting, after which the inhabitants were expelled from the city. (For more information please see Alon Kadish and Avraham Sela, “Myths and Historiography of the 1948 Palestine War Revisited: The Case of Lydda,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 617-634.)
On page 216, the author reports that Palestinian Christians “claim that they are reliving for the first time in history the conditions of the first century church, in which a Christian minority is suffering under the rule of a Jewish majority.” In the West Bank, Palestinian Christians live under the Palestinian Authority, which controls their civil government. Israel is the one country in the Middle East where the indigenous population of Christians has increased in the last several decades. The Statistical Abstract of Israel reports that in 1949, there were approximately 34,000 Christians living in Israel. The vast majority of these people were Arab Christians. At the end of 2011, there were approximately, 125,000 Arab Christians living in Israel. This is a 268 percent increase.
On pages 296-297, the author states (without citation) that “in polling, Israelis consistently reject” the option of a two-state solution. Surveys conducted in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute For the Advancement of Peace and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research all report that a majority of Israelis support a two-state solution.