There has always been the sentiment among some groups that the Balfour Declaration has led to victimization of the Palestinian people. They say it was a mistake, and that we should attempt to make amends.
Christian scholars such as Stephen Sizer, Colin Chapman, Gary Burge and others have been spinning this yarn for years in conferences and books. Recently, some of the chatter got louder. This may be due to the pro-Israel Trump administration’s interest in making the ultimate deal – Peace in the Middle East.
As recently reported by RT, Hamas wants Britain to apologize for allowing Balfour to carve up Palestine. The article raises a familiar charge: The “occupation” has been the cause of most of the strife between the Palestinians and Israel.
History professor Avi Shlaim says the Balfour agreement continues to “resonate throughout the region and beyond.” I agree to a certain point. But what is the root cause of this resonation?
Recently, the Earl of Balfour, a descendant of Arthur Balfour, also argued that the growing anti-Semitism around the world is Israel’s fault. He appeals to Israel’s “inability to address the Palestinian condition” and the “expansion into “Arab territory” via the “settlements.” Balfour thinks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“…owes it to the millions of Jews around the world” who suffer anti-Semitism, to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Alan Dershowitz (Israel Does Not Cause Anti-Semitism) succinctly responds:
This well-intentioned but benighted view is particularly ironic in light of the fact that the Balfour Declaration had, as one of its purposes, to end anti-Semitism around the world by creating a homeland for the Jewish people. But now the scion of Lord Balfour is arguing that it is Israel that is causing anti-Semitism. (Emphasis mine)
Even if Israel’s (alleged) oppression of displaced Palestinians was a valid accusation – what does it say about those who resort to anti-Semitism against innocent Jews outside of Israel? And how do we explain historical anti-Semitism which occurred centuries before the State of Israel and before the Holocaust?
Furthermore, there are other tragic injustices around the world. Why do critics almost exclusively focus on Israel? And why do we not see the same pattern? Again, Dershowitz comments on the misguided logic:
…let us consider other countries: has there been growing anti-Chinese feelings around the world as the result of China’s occupation of Tibet? Is there growing hatred of Americans of Turkish background because of Turkey’s unwillingness to end the conflict in Cypress? Do Europeans of Russian backgrounds suffer bigotry because of Russia’s invasion of Crimea?
I once responded to Historic Premillennialist Craig Blomberg’s claim that Dispensationalism inappropriately privileged Israel – whatever that means. Blomberg made a point to promote anti-Israel critics Gary Burge and Colin Chapman, and inferred that Israel was oppressive.
My blog received a slew of anti-Jewish comments. Some insisted that even if Israel wasn’t to blame for anti-Semitism throughout the centuries – the Jews brought it upon themselves (and continue to) due to their “despicable Jewish habits.” Oh, and these commentators were professing Christians.
So it wasn’t entirely the fault of the people who persecuted the Jews. The wicked Jew must share the blame for his miseries and the pogroms. Perhaps Hitler also had good reasons then? Some apparently think so.
The Arab States presumably also had historical reasons for acting to destroy the fledgling Israeli state, well before the so-called Palestinian oppression. They were compelled to act preemptively in order to save their people from the wicked Jew. Apparently this urgent response overruled the tolerance aspect of the religion of peace.
By the way, don’t let Hamas’ updated charter fool you. Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) has cleverly changed some wording, but its agenda is essentially the same between the lines. Hamas opposes the existence of the Zionist State (read Jewish).
Along with the Balfour regrets, we’re given a long string of Social Justice reasons designed to excuse Palestinian and Islamic terrorism. It’s said the terrorism is a desperate response to all sorts of inequalities and injustices. Whenever I hear these excuses I get a strong whiff of fertilizer.
Those who commit to terrorism against infidels are obeying the Qur’an. Islamic terrorism is prompted by Muhammad’s ideology. When I hear objections to these statements, or when I see pictures of Pope Francis kissing the Qur’an, I wonder whether they’ve actually bothered reading Muhammad’s book.
I’ve often mentioned Stephen Sizer (see above). He wrote an article for The Balfour Project (The Theology of the Land). Incidentally, The Balfour Project runs counter to the Balfour Declaration. Sizer’s article resorts to selective theological reinterpretation, and appeals to emotion, in order to disenfranchise Israel’s right to the land.
Just two quick observations from his article:
If Israel has no right to the land because it fails God’s conditions; then its neighbors have no right either. Neither the PA nor Hamas honor Yahweh’s laws. Nor do they match Israel’s humanitarianism.
Secondly, despite John Stott’s (or anyone else’s) claims that the disciples misunderstood the nature of the kingdom in Acts 1: 6-7; Jesus confirmed their questions regarding the restoration of the kingdom to Israel by not correcting it. Instead, Jesus told the disciples it wasn’t for them to know its timing. See Matt Waymeyer’s Acts 1:6-7 and the Restoration of Israel.
God’s promises to Israel are quite clear in Psalm 105, and elsewhere. God remembers His covenant forever (v 8). The seed of Abraham, the children of Jacob (Israel) are His chosen ones (v 6). The covenant was made with Abraham, an oath made to Isaac and confirmation to Jacob as a statute. It was an everlasting covenant which granted them the land of Canaan (vv 9-11). Need more be said?
Those who reject Israel’s God given rights to the land must consistently reinterpret biblical texts such as Acts 1:6-7. Believe the plain-sense, not roundabout reinterpretations designed to defend a traditional doctrine.
So, should we apologize for Balfour?
A better question might be: should God apologize for making Israel the elect nation (1 Chron 16:13; 2 Sam 7:23-24; Isaiah 45:4) and bestowing Canaan to it? Didn’t God create a bunch of problems in the process? I’d suggest that anyone who has issues with that ought to take it up with Him.
Finally, some quick side notes:
While I try to resist temptations to speculate about current events fitting prophecy; the Trump administration’s ME Peace Initiative and interest in Jerusalem ought to be closely monitored. Joseph Klein’s observations about North Korea’s “collaborative relationship with Iran” are also germane.
Along with these, keep watching the relationships between Russia, Iran, Syria’s embattled Assad and Turkey’s “New Sultan.”
And above all, keep looking up!
Territorial Supercessionism: A Response to Gary Burge
(Note Barry Horner’s references to Marcionism)