Growing up in Virginia, I can remember sitting by the TV each winter just before a snow storm. We wanted to know what was the percentage of the possibility of precipitation. That's a little bit how I feel this Sunday afternoon. Except I don't want it to snow—in this context that would mean the raining down of missiles on Israel from Hamas operatives In Gaza.
Today is Jerusalem Day, when Israel celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. And I have to admit, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, of course I rejoice in the fulfillment of prophecy, seeing Jerusalem come back into the hands of the Jewish people, after we won a hand-to-hand combat battle against the Jordanians in June 1967.
On the other hand, I have a deep concern about the growing nationalism amongst a very small section of our religious community. They seem to thrive on provocation.
This morning Itamar Ben Gvir walked on the Temple Mount. The vast majority of Israelis consider him a racist. And of course, I support the right of any Jewish person to walk on the Temple Mount. But he was only up there as a provocation. Young impressionable Israelis followed him and we had a record 2,600 Jewish citizens on the Temple Mount today. I love Jerusalem, but I love people more than real estate. And I don’t see any value in marching through Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem waving the Israeli flag. They are not my enemy, but my mission field. Again, most Israelis don't see any value in these provocations. They do not represent the nation.
How did Israel end up with Jerusalem?
On November 29th, 1947, the United Nations voted to take the remaining 20% of historic Palestine and divide it into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Most people don't know this, but the other 80% had already become another Arab state called Jordan, which had gained its independence in 1946. And as I have reminded my readers many times, the word Palestine has nothing to do with an Arab ethnicity. It is a name that Emperor Hadrian borrowed from the ancient Philistines when he banished the Jews from Israel in 135 CE. There has never been an Arab state called Palestine.
The next day, after the Arabs rejected the United Nations proposal, they declared war on Israel. The British left the region on May 15th, 1948, just a few hours after Israel declared independence on May 14th. Several Arab nations then joined the fighting against the new Jewish state. It wasn't long before the Arabs began to realize they were going to lose the war. Israel was outnumbered and outgunned at every level, but we were fighting for our existence and I'd like to believe that God was on our side.
When the fighting stopped the Old city of Jerusalem was in the hands of the Jordanians. They kicked out every Jew and destroyed every synagogue and Jewish monument. For 19 years, no Jewish person could visit the Western Wall to pray. We were a body without a heart.
Six Day War
Then in the spring of 1967, Gamal Nasser, the president of Egypt, began to threaten Israel. He demanded that the peacekeeping force the United Nations had put in the Sinai Desert leave. And despite being called the greatest peacekeeping force in history, they didn't hesitate to pack up and leave.
Israel was facing the possibility of a three-front-war, with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. In 1964, the head of the Israeli Mossad had testified to the Knesset that the only way we would survive the next war would be to attack first.
“Although the military leadership conveyed a sense of confidence in the ability of the IDF to defeat the Arab armies despite its numerical inferiority, this was conditional on a preemptive strike.”
On June 5th, 1967, facing an existential threat, Israel struck first. “Egyptian forces were caught by surprise, and nearly the entire Egyptian Air Force was destroyed with few Israeli losses in the process, giving Israel the advantage of air supremacy.” That evening Israel attacked Syrian airfields, destroying two-thirds of its Air Force.
Jordan Deceived by Egypt
A message was sent to King Hussein of Jordan. We told him that if he stayed out of the war we would not attack Jordan. But in a conversation with the president of Egypt, he was convinced that the jets that he could see on a radar heading toward Egypt were not Israeli jets, but Egyptian jets coming home after bombing Tel Aviv. A news blackout was declared in Israel. We did not want anyone in the United Nations to know that we were actually winning the war. We were perfectly happy with the president of Egypt lying to everyone, including his own troops.
Jordan was not going to let Egypt get all of the land and so they entered the war. On June 7th, our forces responded to the Jordanian attack and took the Old City. Eventually, the Jordanian troops were driven to the other side of the Jordan River. In a war that we did not want to fight, we ended up with the Old City of Jerusalem and the entire West Bank—ancient Judea and Samaria.
Syria was also tricked into fighting. “False Egyptian reports of a crushing victory against the Israeli army and forecasts that Egyptian forces would soon be attacking Tel Aviv influenced Syria's decision to enter the war – in a sporadic manner – during this period.” Israeli officials debated on whether or not they should try to take the Golan Heights. For 19 years, Syria had been raining down rockets on Israel’s civilian population in the Galilee. Was this an opportunity to put an end to it?
Aided by intelligence from Israel’s most famous spy, Eli Cohen (there was recently a Netflix series about him), Israel entered, quite literally, an uphill battle. Within two days, the Golan Heights were ours. Chief of staff and soon-to-be prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was given the honor of naming the war. He chose to give glory to God by calling it the Six Day War, recalling the six days of creation.
Contrast Israel vs. Jordan
Remember what the Jordanian forces did when they controlled Jerusalem for those 19 years. Jews were not allowed to come into the Old City. Everything Jewish was desecrated. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, in contrast, declared after Jerusalem was reunified:
This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.
Not only has Israel been under that agreement for over 50 years, but we have bent over backward. Jewish pilgrims are not even allowed to pray on the Temple Mount!
As I finish writing this it is 5:29 pm here in Israel. In one minute, the parade called “Dance of the Flags” will begin in Jerusalem. Hamas has threatened to respond with rockets. This used to be a great holiday, but it has been hijacked by those who just want to provoke and it ruins a once wonderful day for the rest of us Israelis who love Jerusalem but I also want to live at peace with our neighbors.
I would never encourage our government to give in to Hamas. But neither do I support disrespecting the Arab residents of East Jerusalem. The same Bible that tells me that Israel belongs to the Jewish people also tells me to love all men and seek their salvation. And we have to still remember that while the media would like to portray us as the Goliath, and many of these provocateurs appear that way, we are still young David, surrounded by 22 Arab nations in over 50 Muslim nations.
Shockingly, people still ask me if I think it is racist to have a Jewish nation. We're talking about one Jewish nation! It was created after 6 million Jews were murdered because we didn't have a Jewish nation. My question is: do they think it is racist that there are over 50 Muslim nations where non-Muslims are treated at best as second class, and at worse are actively persecuted?
I feel a little schizophrenic in writing this. On the one hand, I love my country and rejoice in the reunification of Jerusalem. But on the other, I have become more and more concerned for my Arab neighbors. No—not the terrorists and not the corrupt PLO—but the average Arab that I encounter on a regular basis, often willing to laugh and joke with me.
When will lasting peace come? Only when the Prince of Peace comes back. In the meantime, I want to focus on the spiritual salvation of both the Jews and Arabs here.
 Great Britain was given Palestine at the end of World War I after the defeat of the Turks. Palestine was the name of the region, not the country. At that time anyone who lived here, Jewish, Arab Christian was considered a Palestinian. The name of the Jewish newspaper was the Palestine Post. It had no connection to any Arab ethnicity.  Six Days, Fifty Years, https://www.inss.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Memo184_e.pdf  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War#Syrian_front_5–8_June  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War#Syrian_front_5–8_June.