It is nearly impossible to define the enormity of this topic in a short article. It would be like trying to describe the Grand Canyon after seeing it in real life for the first time.
However, because of social media and real-time news, we are getting instant statements on this conflict that are both accurate and ignorant. Evidenced by the millions of views on Chinese-owned TikTok spreading viral falsehoods on the narrative. Ask the Israeli or the Palestinian young people and you will get different responses on the validity of the viral social media messaging and whether it helps their cause or not.
I hope this attempt is more accurate than ignorant as I try to help Gen Z understand the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in a short read.
For the grandparents of the Silent Generation, the parents of Generation X and even the young adult Millennials, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict has been front and center over and again. But, for Generation Z, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict that has been front and center in the past few days is a new narrative.
All of us are mindful right now of the Israeli and Palestinian people who are once again being devastated by this conflict as innocent men, women and children in Israel and Palestine are losing life, homes, businesses and schools.
Maybe this conflict could be best understood by beginning with a basic premise of this unwinnable war from two perspectives: a geo-political perspective and, a religious perspective.
A Geo-Political Perspective
From a geo-political perspective, the conflict in this Bible lands region seems pretty clear.
The Israeli and Palestinian communities are historic peoples who both believe passionately that they have a claim to the land. While many peoples of many faiths live and have lived in Israel and Palestine, the tension is fiercest between conservative Israelis (who want to build settlements in Palestinian territories) and radicalized Palestinians (who deny Israel has a right to exist and want to take the land that modern Israel now governs). To make it more complicated, many Muslims around the world tend to passionately side with the Palestinians.
Israel, as a nation-state, has a prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) and is run by the Knesset, or, the governing legislative body, similar to the Congress of the United States.
The situation concerning Palestine, however, is much more fluid and evolving.
The United Nations recognizes Palestine as a "non-member observer" or provisional government that is run by the Palestine Authority. And both Iran (Shiite Muslim) and Hamas (Sunni Muslim) constantly attempt to interfere with Palestinian authorities and governance — and both Iran and Hamas are committed to the destruction of Israel as a nation.
Making the Israeli and Palestinian divide more difficult is the militant Muslim extremists within the region. The conflict is not simply an Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Muslims around the world are vocal in their support for Palestinians, but Muslim extremists twist the Palestinian cause for their own corrupt purposes.
Some of the distinctions in this geo-political conflict include the following differences:
The Muslim extremists have rejected democracy, display no accountability in their governing, control education, control media, stifle the social life of the people, limit travel and rule the people with terror first.
Israel has embraced democratic principles, promotes a system of self-governing checks and balances in the Knesset, runs a two-shift schooling schedule, has a free media, allows for freedom of social life, is working with Palestine and re-concepting food insecurity and generally models diplomacy first.
A Religious Perspective
A religious perspective of the conflict may seem clearer at first. For simple and apparent reasons.
The Muslim extremists dehumanize women, while the Israeli and Palestinian world values women. The Muslim extremists kill gay people, while Israel has welcomed gay people.
But, as Christian, the simplicity of this conflict becomes clouded as you look at the condition of Israel from a more spiritual perspective.
Can Christians biblically claim God’s favor on a nation-state that blatantly denies Him, disregards His covenant, is gripped by religious pride and boasts a moral decline in society? Do we claim that God always favors America, even when our citizens err in not living according to Christ?
Can we actually biblically say that God is on Israel’s side, or any nation’s side always? Remember God’s response to Joshua in the Old Testament when Joshua asked, “Are you for us or against us?” God responded, “Neither.” (Joshua 5)
It must be said that God’s “side” and way obviously does not endorse what Palestine or the militant Muslim extremists are doing. But, still, does this mean Israel is always on God's side? Arguably, God is His own side. A Jewish reader may disagree with that, as would somebody claiming to be Palestinian. But, these questions must be probed to gain a fuller understanding of the situation
The modern era Israeli and Palestinian conflict mostly started shortly before the 1900s with the global Jewish desire to move back into their homeland in the Palestinian region. Because of the widespread persecution of Jews globally, their desire was to re-establish their security and a homeland for posterity.
But the Muslim extremists were against this return from the start since they had been occupying the land the Jews were forced from.
To stem the disagreements and escalating violence, other nations in the region surrounded by the conflict were trying to bring peace to the region and push for a two-state habitation between Israel and Palestine. Nations such as Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, all tried to bring some normalization to the Middle Eastern talks.
Even with these nations going so far as to sign a peace accord, the Muslim extremists would not have it.
So the conflict continued and worsened, as Israel was declared a sovereign nation-state in 1948-49 and the territory would be shared under Israeli rule. Israel thought that was fair enough. But the Muslim extremists protested.
By the time Jews had returned to their homeland and needed more land, some of the large Arab population in the Palestine region became divided. As the Muslim extremists began protesting against the acquisition of lands by the return of the Jewish people, the Israeli and Palestinian hostility increased exponentially with the formation of the Muslim extremist group Hamas, an Islamic terrorist organization.
The Hamas provocation has proved this war of the land was not going to be a winnable war because it would become a retaliatory cycle of violence and defense between Muslim extremists and Israel and Palestine. It should be noted that this conflict has always been about land, power and sovereign autonomy. And contrary to what some extremists have claimed lately, this conflict is not about ethnic cleansing or another apartheid.
There is no doubt that Jews lived in the land now called Israel thousands of years before the Muslim Palestinians. But, more recently, it becomes complicated because the Palestinians lived in the land for 1,000 years before the creation of the modern Jewish state.
So, in their modern Palestinian view, upon return, the Jews stole the land from them (i.e., similar to the conflict of White Americans and Native Americans in North America). Now you can see just part of the reason why this Bible Lands conflict is so difficult.
Today, while nations and governments work this out and with all of the anger and tension surrounding this conflict, we need to raise a generation on a couple of clear principles.
First, modern Israel has a lawful right to exist and to live in the land.
Second, we must have compassion for the innocent Palestinian people who are caught in between the Muslim extremist grab for power and land, the expansionist desire for land by conservative Israelis and the necessary measures Israel has to take to defend its borders and citizens.
To simplify this and to help Gen Z understand better, here are 5 principles Gen Z needs to know about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict:
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Palestine, and, especially, pray for our Christians brothers and sisters in that area.
- Our world leaders are not perfect and it is very difficult to remove power and corruption from leadership — pray for world leaders and do not return hate or disdain for them.
- Biblically, according to Exodus 33, Deuteronomy 7 and 20, Matthew 23 and 24 and other texts, history supports the Jewish people as owners of Israeli/Palestinian lands under certain conditions of spiritual responsibility and expectations.
- An important reason the global world should support Israel is because they are an island of trusted democracy in the midst of a sea of untrusted authoritarian nations — located in perhaps the most important region of the world due to history, religion, transport lanes and oil reserves.
- While the political situation works itself out, we must all place a little more emphasis and compassion on the humanity of the situation and, that includes every person involved on all sides of this critical story.
From a geo-political and a religious perspective, I completely agree with the importance of Israel as an American ally in the Middle East region. A priority that is critical for the peace and democracy of the Middle East. And I completely condemn the violence and terror of Hamas and the Muslim extremist’s inhumane movement.
However, the infatuation that America has with Israel must be placed into the right spiritual perspective also. There’s no question of the geo-political value and common sense that Israel brings to the Middle East.
But, just like America, there are major religious concerns about the spiritual condition of Israel from a Christian perspective — and its assumed inheritance of land gifted to them by God under responsibility of expectations. A gift that was not just ceded by the U.N.
It is true, as the Bible informs us, that God has no side of nations. God is His own side. And nations choose to be on His side or not. What is clear in this conflict, is that God’s side or way or blessing has a clear set of expectations and responsibilities attached to it. And it’s not just about land or sovereignty. It is more about lifestyle and righteousness.
All of us need to be more mindful of the Israeli and Palestinian people who are being devastated right now by the extremist Muslim violence. Innocent men, women and children losing life, homes, business and schools.
The debate will continue.
But, as we raise another generation in this Israeli and Palestinian conflict, we must offer these five basic principles and condemn loudly and clearly the extremist Muslim movement of violence against Israel and the Palestinian people.
And we must stand in solidarity and compassion for every person involved in this story and surprise the world with new outcomes of peace and civility.
After four decades of Youth Leadership, Jeff Grenell founded ythology to inspire, educate and resource youth leaders to prepare the NextGen to lead in the Church and the world. Some of the services yhthology offers include, events, leadership development, resources, anti sex-trafficking and humanitarian efforts. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffgrenell Read Jeff Grenell's Reports
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