Monday, April 24, 2017

HWA: Palestine was "a Barren Desert Waste" Until 1917

French tourist poster. 1898.

Way back in 1934 in the very first issue of his recruitment magazine, The Plain Truth, HWA insisted that "Jerusalem and Palestine" were "a barren desert waste" until 1917 when the British seized it from the Ottoman Empire.
In words written some nineteen hundred, some twenty-five hundred years ago the Bible prophesies every outstanding phase of present world condition---the depression, the unemployment, its causes, the hoarding of gold, the topsy-turvy political conditions thruout the world, the modern church condition and present social conditions. It has foretold modern science, the automobile, the airplane. It foretold that the Jews would be driven into ALL nations, scattered, yet without ever losing their nationality or their appearance---and that is the miracle of history! It foretold that Jerusalem and Palestine would be in the power of the Gentiles, a barren desert waste, until 1917-1936 when it would once more "blossom as the rose," and the Jews would once again return! (Herbert W. Armstrong, Is a World Dictator About to Appear? Plain Truth, February 1934, pp. 1-2.)   
HWA thought the "Day of the Lord," which he taught was a time of numerous catastrophes just before Christ's return, would begin in 1936 hence his reference to that year even though he wrote this in 1934. (See Plain Truth, June-July 1934, p. 3.)

But was Jerusalem and Palestine "a barren desert waste" until 1917? Of course not. Jerusalem and Palestine (later after the war of 1947-9 part of it became the State of Israel) were continuously inhabited from Biblical times to this very day.

The 1922 Census of Palestine reported that 757,182 people lived there. The population was about 78% Muslim, 11% Jewish and 10% Christian. How can a land in which 757,182 people live in it be described as "a barren desert waste"?

They farmed. They built homes. They made art. They made families. They raised up their children. They paid taxes to the Ottoman authorities and after 1917 were ruled by the British. Before 1917 and even by 1934 when HWA wrote his words the majority of inhabitants were Palestinian Arabs.

What a terrible slur against the Palestinian people HWA made by insisting that Jerusalem and Palestine were "a barren desert waste" until 1917. It shows how little value he gave to the Palestinian people. They meant little to him. And sad to say this dismissive attitude towards the Palestinians continues to be present within the COGs to this day.

But why did HWA talk of Palestine as though it were "a barren desert waste" until 1917? Well in the mid-19th Century among some Protestant Christians in Britain the idea arose that Jews should migrate to Palestine. And among them arose a saying to promote this idea describing Palestine as "a land without a people and a people without a land," that is they claimed that Palestine did not have a distinctive people while the Jews did not have a homeland. And this view in a mangled form came to influence HWA in 1934 to slur Palestine as "a barren desert waste" thus devaluing the Palestinian Arabs as unworthy of his regard. How shameful.

May peace soon come to the Holy Land.


  1. HWA was not alone in this dismissive attitude towards Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims. Rather, this was a cultivated & self-imposed state of ignorance disseminated and reinforced over many centuries of Western disregard for human life and for any non-European accomplishment, with anything Muslim being a fair target for Christian hate.
    HWA was not covering up the plain truth or intentionally denying a fact per se, but he actually believed in the biblical fairytales and thus lived in a fantasy world worthy of Disneyland or a Hollywood movie. HWA stated an imagined fact which was more real to him than the sun.
    Christianity is a wonderful religion for retarded children, and HWA grew up as brainwashed one of them who is, further, incapable of seeing beyond the tip of his nose. One should not argue his statements or dignify his claims with research but just pity him and his followers.

  2. Herbert W. Armstrong considered all of the people whom he labeled as Gentile to be less than those he identified as Israelites. The man dealt to a great extent in prophecy, and he frequently referred in his sermons to the "times of the Gentiles", during which Gentiles supposedly had the minds of wild animals, wandering around as did Nebuchadnezzar, like a wild ox.

    Herbert may not have been the only one who believed this. In fact, there have been many theories about tribal, non-nationalistic cultures, versus territorial city builders. But, the thing about HWA was that he had the power of the airwaves, and many heard these highly prejudicial theories from him for the first time, not from an historian's perspective, but from that of a theologian who related it to the Bible and prophecy.

    We know today that HWA got so many things wrong. Even his cadre of followers has shrunken. Unfortunately, there are those who disregard correction of error, not because the corrections are provably false, but because they consider the person who taught them the error to have been semi-divine, a quasi-Biblical figure. To accept the correction would mean disbelieving HWA's apostleship, something they will never do.


  3. I just wished the Turks just packed their bags and left Turkey and let the civilized and democrati Greeks return again to their rightful colonies.

    As is stated in that most important movie. The life of Brian.
    "What did the Romans ever do for us? " (Besides, roads, running water, clean cities, order and peace.)


  4. I guess that fake Arab guy commenting knows nothing about the Ottoman empire's history and its relation to the Arabs.

    Yes Palestine was virtually empty besides the remains of the Roman empire. The carving up of the Ottoman empire was done in a most unfortunate way though reflecting 19th century powerplayers. Today we are carving it up along current players. Russia, China, Iran and a little oil for the Americans.

    No one is buying stock in the Saudi oil machine. I see them all as refugees in the coming thirty years. Unless they start reforming their ridiculous violent and opressive interpretation of Islam into the a more peaceful one like the Christian folk.