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April 2015

Birth Pangs of a Jewish Nation


Who has ever heard of such things?  Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.  Isaiah 66:8

Last week, Israel celebrated its birth.  Following the Jewish calendar, on the 5th of Iyyar, 67 years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben Gurion and the Jewish National Council declared the establishment of the modern Jewish state.  Yet, before every birth, there are labor pangs, and before those travails a fetus has slowly developed in the wake of conception.  The modern state of Israel’s birth was much more than one miraculous day.  It was an intense labor of blood and tears for two peoples seeking survival in a region irrevocably transformed by two world wars, embroiled in competing geopolitical interests, and shadowed by the Holocaust.

Today, Israel’s population is 8,345,000 people of which 75% are Jews and 21% are Arabs.[1]  This is the inverse of British Palestine’s 1922 census that documented 88% Arabs and 11% Jews.  While the biblical ancestors of the Jewish people had lived in this land since the times of Abraham, it was not until the end of the 19th century with the start of modern Zionism[2] and large scale Jewish immigration that tangible hopes for a Jewish nation were conceived.

Towards the end of World War One as the Ottoman Empire was in its death throes, the British Balfour Declaration signaled the first labor pain of Israel’s birth.  In it, Britain, the greatest world empire at that time, publicly supported a homeland for the Jews within Palestine while also protecting the rights of its Arab residents.[3]  Then, in 1920, the victorious Allies assigned the Palestine Mandate to Britain, and, later, the League of Nations approved the Balfour declaration as well.  Arab riots and attacks followed.[4]  Casualties mounted on both sides.  For the next decades, Britain attempted to govern Palestine, though bloodshed continued and, later, escalated.[5]

The Zionist cause increased after World War Two as Hitler’s genocide of the Jewish people became public knowledge.  A push for a Jewish homeland became more accepted in international discussion and helped ignite one final labor pain prior to Israel’s birth, when on Nov 29th, 1947 the United Nations voted for a Partition Plan of Palestine between the Jewish and Arab peoples.[6]  While most Jewish residents accepted the plan, the Arab leadership did not.[7]  Immediately after the vote, civil war broke out in Palestine as Britain began plans for its soon withdrawal.

Dr. Robert “Bob” Lindsey, a Southern Baptist pastor who lived and worked in Jerusalem at that time was awakened in the early morning of Nov 30th, 1947 when Jewish residents received word of the UN’s Partition Plan.  Writing that day, he said:

This has been a historic day.  So many things have been happening during it that I sit down to write before I forget any of them.

The excitement began early this morning at one-thirty.  The hundreds of people had sat all night waiting for returns by shortwave concerning the voting on the question of the partition of Palestine at the UN Assembly.  Finally the news came!  At last after nearly 2,000 years of wandering, Jews have a state.

We walked down the main avenue of New Jerusalem, King George.  Everywhere were people walking up and down.  Near Jaffa Road, a great crowd had gathered and were singing and dancing.  A British tank, the kind that the police use here, went by with at least thirty young people clinging to its iron sides and one holding a large national Jewish flag.[8]

Bob Lindsey, fleeing the siege of and war in Jerusalem, found himself in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948 where and when Israeli independence was declared.  Later, he would write about what later became known as the Arab-Israeli War:[9]

As in every war…the majority did not want to fight.  Most Palestine Arabs stood to lose everything in a fight with the Jews and they knew it.  Most Jewish people had had enough fighting for six long years before and they did not want it.  Some of our Arab members continued to meet in the church with the Jewish Christian brethren for a month after the troubles began and in places, Arab and Jewish children played together for several weeks after November 29…but at last the tension was too great and the communities separated completely, pillboxes at every border.

Many have asked what is actually the truth about the Arab-Jewish conflict.  Whose country is it anyway?  I cannot answer that question absolutely, of course.  Only God can.  But it seems to me that both Arab and Jewish claims have much validity.  Arabs claim Palestine because they have formed the majority of the population for many hundreds of years.  Jews claim it on the grounds of a historical connection of many hundreds of years and the pressing need for a solution to the Jewish problem the world around.  I think both peoples are right.  That means, naturally, that only compromise will give a measure of each group’s desires.  The UN plan was such a compromise and perhaps not as bad a one as some have thought.  It gave both Arabs and Jews the political rights of sovereign nations, yet the economic possibilities of a single country.  The political leaders of the Arabs rejected the plan, however, and history has again changed to some extent “our best-laid plans.”[10]

Yet, history continues and, in a sense, Israel is still being born—trying to figure out how to be a Jewish democracy while being inclusive of its 1.73 million Arab citizens, as well as coming to a political resolution with its Palestinian neighbors.  The celebrated miracle of Israel’s birth will grow greater in stature each day as these growing pains mature the Jewish nation.

[1] This number does not include the estimated 4.44 million mostly Arabs/Palestinians who live in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

[2] Zionism is a nationalist and political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel.

[3] “His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” Nov 2, 1917

[4] “The fundamental cause of the Jaffa riots and the subsequent acts of violence was a feeling among the Arabs of discontent with, and hostility to, the Jews, due to political and economic causes, and connected with Jewish immigration, and with their conception of Zionist policy as derived from Jewish exponents . . . the Arab majority, who were generally the aggressors, inflicted most of the casualties.”  The Haycraft Commission (1921)

[5] Some of the attacks here.

[6] 33 countries or 72% voted for the Partition Plan giving the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine.

[7] “Palestinians and Arabs as a rule always reiterated that a partition was unfair: it gave the majority of the land (56%) to a Jewish state, when Jews at that stage legally owned only 7% of it and remained a minority (33% in 1946) of the population.”  More.  For historical demographic charts, here.  

[8] One Foot in Heaven, Mullican and Turnage, pg 83-85.

[9] By Israelis it is called Milkhemet Ha'atzma'ut, "The War of Independence," and by the Arabs, al-Nakba, "The Catastrophe."

[10] One Foot in Heaven, Mullican and Turnage, pg 86-87.


Charity Report: Your Gifts Helped these Individuals, Families, and Ministries during February and March 2015 

JCF contributed $225 to a Purim party thrown for the children at the Beit El Messianic Congregation in Jerusalem.

Gad, a young Ethiopian Israeli soldier who attends Beit El, has no family in the country.  JCF helped pay some of his bills ($125).

Lewis is a 12 year old boy who recently immigrated to Israel with his mother and was put into the local Hebrew-speaking school system. Several problems have risen due to the new language and other personal issues. JCF is helping pay for a psychological and didactic diagnosis in order to better place him in the right educational framework ($490)          

William is a West African pastor working on biblical studies in Israel.  He recently had to quickly return home to help his family who have fled from the violence of Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group.  JCF gave $563 towards his flight.

JCF bought Pesach food vouchers for local families through social services ($1000).

Battia is the mother of a Christian Arab family in Jericho. JCF helped cover tuition for her four children ($717).

Sileste is a Christian Arab from Jerusalem’s Old City. Her husband is undergoing cancer tests and they have several kids. JCF helped cover some of their bills ($150).

Secluded individuals social club is an Israeli group of ten individuals who have no support from family, friends or community. Most have medical problems.  JCF contributed to a yearly trip which allows them a rare opportunity to leave Jerusalem’s city limits ($272).

Emily is a Muslim orphan from Bethlehem who has lost her job as a medical secretary due to budgetary cuts.  JCF is helping pay for her water and electric bill ($330). 

JCF helped pay $1000 for the Ethiopian pastor of Beit El Messianic Congregation to study English during a three month course in order that he may be better able to communicate with overseas churches. In the past, several people have tried to contact him so they could help his congregation. However, because his English was very poor, he was not able to communicate the needs and prayer requests.

Denise is a 45 year old Israeli social worker who has suffered for several years from dental problems. She is not able to put off dental treatment any longer since she suffers from several infections. Since the dental treatment will cost her $10,000, Denise is taking out loans.  JCF contributed $789 towards her treatment.

Little Hearts Pre-school is based in Jerusalem and brings together Jews, Arabs, and the nations in a loving, Jesus-centered learning environment.  JCF contributes $500 a month towards their work.

Dear Brothers and Sisters at the Jerusalem Cornerstone Foundation:

As the principal of Little Hearts Pre-School, a project of Seeds of Hope Inc., I would like to thank you for the generous support you have provided for our school again this month.

I am excited to update you regarding another addition to our facility. As I have previously explained, to further our vision of unity, we feel that it is important to have Hebrew, Arabic, and English spoken in each of our classrooms. Therefore in the year and a half that I have been at Little Hearts Preschool, we have hired two tri-lingual teachers: one last year and another this year. This has left me with only two classrooms that are not fully tri-lingual; they both have Hebrew and English, but very weak Arabic.

Today, I am very excited to share with you that because of your donation and a recent staff change, we were able to hire another Arabic speaking teacher this month. We are especially excited as this woman, a certified teacher, not only speaks Arabic, but she is a Muslim background believer. We serve an amazing G-d!

Your monthly support has a direct impact on our work and calling at Little Hearts Preschool. Thank you!

The Principal 

News in Israel and the Middle East

  • Jewish Israeli High School Students will Speak Arabic on Jerusalem's Light Rail Train on May 4th to protest violence against Arabs.  More, here.
  • Lucy Aharish, a 33 year old Muslim Arab Israeli media icon, lit a torch at Israel’s national Independence Day ceremony on Mount Herzl and spoke in Arabic at the event, “For our honor as human beings, this is our country and there is no other.”  More on her unique story, here.
  • Palestinian charged in April 15th terror attack when he rammed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop.  Here.
  • Israel voted for a new government in March.  Benyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party won 30 seats in the Knesset, but is still trying to form a coalition to begin the new government.  He has till May 7th to solidify a coalition.
  • Israel one of the least religious countries in the world?  New study by Gallup, here.
  • Israeli engineers have created a “solar tree that is capable of producing electricity and of fulfilling a number of practical functions. Article here.
  • A joint Israeli-Jordanian agreement has recently been signed to renew the disappearing water of the Dead Sea.  More here.
  • ISIS continues to kill Christians in North Africa.  Last week 28 Ethiopian Christians were slaughtered in Libya by ISIS as it continues its butchery of non-Muslims.  The  victims are believed to have been migrants trying to find their way to Europe by boat. Apparently at least three of the group were Eritrean asylum seekers who had previously tried to find refuge in Israel in 2014.  Besides this recent attack, African Christian migrants have also been thrown overboard by some of their fellow Muslim migrants.   
  • Syrian refugees will soon total four million people, while 220,000 have died in the ongoing civil war.  There have been recent calls for countries from the West to open their gates to the 150,00 refugees who have applied for asylum.  So far the United States has accepted 700 refugees and plans to admit another 2,000 by this fall. 

JCF News: Tsemah Shalom Alley

Sharon Alley, wife of JCF’s Communications Director, Gary Alley, gave birth to a third son on March 26th in Bethlehem at the Holy Family Hospital.  Tsemah's two proud brothers, Sa’ar (6) and Sela (3), were delighted to welcome their new brother to the family.  His name, Tsemah (צֶמַח), is the the Hebrew word for a sprout, shoot, or sprig which blossoms out of a tree.  It was used by the prophet Jeremiah to describe the Messiah bursting forth in new life.   

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch (tsemah), a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land (Jer 23:5).” 

“‘In those days and at that time, I will make a righteous Branch (tsemah) sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land (Jer 33:15).” 

JCF News: Larry and Mary Ehrlich Bring 5th Israel Youth Study Tour from Augustine Christian Academy

This past March, Larry and Mary Ehrlich, U.S. Directors for JCF, led their 5th Israel trip of high school students, teachers, and parents from the Augustine Christian Academy (ACA) of Tulsa, OK.  ACA is a classical school which offers Latin, Greek and Hebrew to its more than 200 students, and Larry was ACA’s school administrator for many years.  This unique JCF study tour led by Yoni Gerrish included lots of hiking in the picturesque Israeli countryside.  One of the special features of these trips are visits to the Nofey Golan High School in Katzrin where ACA students meet with Israeli students and learn about their lives.  For more on JCF Study Tours, here.

Entering the Kingdom of Heaven: The Legacy of Dr. Robert Lindsey at Narkis Street Congregation in Jerusalem

From May 29th to June 2nd, the Narkis Street Congregation in Jerusalem will host a conference on their former pastor, Bob Lindsey, and his legacy as shepherd, scholar, and passionate disciple of Jesus.  He and his wife, Margaret, lived and ministered in Israel from 1945 to 1987 with the Baptist Convention in Israel.  For more information, here.

Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

  • Two Christian Iraqi refugee families that fled ISIS.  The families are trying to gain asylum into a Western country but are still waiting to hear back from the United Nations about their status.  Pray that they will find an open door first with the United Nations and then with the right country.
  • Christians throughout the Middle East who face increased persecution for their faith.  

  • The Israeli government will form a healthy and upright coalition.

JCF has been giving toward Holocaust survivors living Jerusalem.  This is an update from the International Christian Embassy which we have been partnering with.

There are approximately twelve needy and very lonely Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem who have been receiving loving care and companionship from an aid organization with whom we partner.   These Survivors receive monthly checks to support them economically and receive regular volunteer visitors, which is also very important to them.  A very nice program was begun to link boys from a local institution for disadvantaged children and youth, to some of these Holocaust Survivors.  This has greatly benefited both the teenage boys and the elderly survivors.
Loneliness is a huge problem to people who have lost all their family and often their spouse.  Visiting some of these Jerusalem Survivors regularly ourselves, we know how important this program is which supplies both financial and emotional support.  
The donations of JCF have been used in part with help to maintain the ongoing expense of supporting these survivors in Jerusalem with monthly help in form of coupons for food items.  The other part has been used to cover maintenance problems in their homes. For example, when our staff visited a 90 year old Survivor, her small, modest apartment was quite dark owing to a broken slatted shutter which could not be raised and had been like this for more than a week.   Having received the gift from JCF, we were in a position to immediately arrange its replacement.  One of hermost  terrible memories is from her home town of Yasi in Romania where she suffered terribly from violence and terror.  She lost most of her family and witnessed people being pulled out of their homes and killed.  She finds it very difficult to talk about those memories. She is suffering from many health problems, does not have children, and lost her husband many years ago.  Visits from Christians like us mean the world to her.