Friday, June 30, 2017

Reading Mideast Strife—Will It Lead To Armageddon? by Garner Ted Armstrong (1998)

In 1998, shortly after having to start up another COG splinter group after he was caught on tape behaving in a shameful and immoral manner, Garner Ted Armstrong released a booklet discussing events in the Middle East entitled "MIDEAST STRIFE—Will It Lead To ARMAGEDDON?" This booklet was written during the height of the time of the peace process begun under Rabin, continued under Peres and was still being maintained by Netanyahu when this booklet was published.

In the 1880s an nationalist movement arose among the Jewish communities of Europe dreaming of creating a Jewish nation state in Palestine, which was then a province of the Ottoman Empire. This desire arose partly in response to the frightful persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire in the 1880s. After decades of hard work the desired nation state came to be with the establishment of the State of Israel in 78% of Mandatory Palestine during the Israeli War of Independence in 1947-9. However while creating this nation state about 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes into the surrounding Arab nations and the Israeli government refused to let them return. Furthermore the evident military superiority of the State of Israel compared with the surrounding Arab nation states made them quite fearful of the State of Israel.

By 1998, the time of this booklet's publication, there was still much strife and contention between the State of Israel on the one hand and the Palestinian people and the surrounding Arab nation states on the other hand. The State of Israel made peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994. Meanwhile the peace process with Yasser Arafat's Fatah continued on its path until it would soon collapse with the start of the Second Intifada in 2000.

Let's take a look at Garner Ted Armstrong's booklet.

(Page numbers are based on the PDF version.)
Why do the Arabs hate the Jews? Why do so many Jews hate the Arabs? Why the continual strife; bombings, knifings, shootings, rocket attacks; terrorism against helpless civilians in Jerusalem? To understand the real roots of protracted conflict between Arabs and Jews, you need to know the history of Jerusalem and Palestine; understand the ethnic and religious roots of the peoples who live there. Even more importantly, you need to understand the PROPHECIES of your Bible; how events yet to occur in Palestine and Jerusalem will affect YOUR life where YOU live! (p. 1.)
At the start of this paragraph Garner Ted Armstrong writes, "Why do the Arabs hate the Jews? Why do so many Jews hate the Arabs?" These words make it appear as though he is neutral and is able to discuss this topic from both sides. However he taught British Israelism, the inaccurate idea that white Americans and British are descended from Biblical Israelites. Consequently he viewed Israeli Jews as being related to himself while the Palestinians are excluded from this imagined (and fanciful) connection. With that in mind taking into account what he wrote in this booklet it is clear that he reserves most of his sympathy for one side and it is not for the Arabs. This attitude is quite common among the COGs. Why does he pretend otherwise in this opening paragraph?

Also note that the last sentence that paragraph. The terrible situation in the Holy Land which has seen so many people die and suffer is relegated as just background for his speculations about the future. This terrible and deadly conflict is reduced into a magical barometer which will supposedly allow him to foretell Christ's return.
Always, the media seems fixated on TERRITORY as the problem! Continually, they speak of "land for peace." Millions of Americans are disgusted with the Jews; seeing them as obstructionists to the "peace process." Many in the media debate back and forth about where "a mere 13 per cent of Israel's territory" would bring peace in the region! How utterly ignorant they are about the REAL CAUSE; the real ROOTS of the conflict! Many of those young reporters who bring you your news on television were not born when Israel fought the combined armies of six Arab nations; many were not born when the famous "six-day war" was fought, which brought about the occupation of the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the "West Bank," including the old city of Jerusalem! The U.S. media has virtually parroted the Palestinian Arabs, as they continually speak of the "occupied territories." Millions seem unconcerned that the Jews speak of "security," meaning buffer areas between themselves and hostile Arab neighbors. Ignorance of history, gullibility, propaganda—all play a part in shaping public opinion in the U.S. Much, if not most, of that public opinion is very badly skewed. (p. 1.)
He is right to note that the conflict is not only about dividing up the land. There is also the issue of Palestinian refugees who yearn to return home, the widespread demand of Palestinians for prisoners to be released as may be seen in the recent prisoner hunger strike, etc.

The State of Israel's possession of territory not recognized as belonging to it is justified as a security measure ignoring the legal view that the land acquired in 1967 does not belong to the State of Israel and is instead viewed as occupied territory. This is why many governments places their embassies in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem.
Jews base their claims on Jerusalem to the time of David and Solomon, while many Arabs believe it was their ancestors who were dispossessed of their lands when Israel "invaded" Palestine following the Exodus. (p. 1.)
Note how the State of Israel claim over East Jerusalem is falsely equated with Jews laying claim to it. A political struggle between rival nationalist movements is misleadingly presented as a struggle between different religious groups.

Bizarrely Garner Ted Armstrong refuses to discuss the mass expulsion of about 750,000 Palestinians from the territory of the State of Israel during the Israeli War of Independence of 1947-9. Does Garner Ted Armstrong really imagine that Palestinian hostility to the State of Israel is because of something that happened over three thousand years ago and not because of the mass expulsion?
To the average man on the street, the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Israel may seem like the natural effect of an obvious cause: Israel continues to "occupy" the West Bank; continues to build housing projects on land claimed by the Palestinian Arabs (even though it is privately-owned Jewish land); continues to occupy the Golan Heights; continues its refusal to negotiate over Jerusalem. Thirty years have passed since Israel was attacked by five Arab armies and won an astounding victory which resulted in their occupation of the disputed lands. Notwithstanding, the Palestinian Arabs and Syrians demand that Israel relinquish all lands won by force of arms, including East Jerusalem! Yet, from the Israeli point of view, those very lands; the Golan in the north, overlooking the Sea of Galilee; the Gaza Strip to the south, pointing like a dagger into the heart of Israel; Jerusalem and the West Bank to the west, provided dangerous jumping off points for armored columns of Arab armies. Prior to that war, as any map of that time shows, Israel had such a narrow waist it could have been cut in two by a thrust from Latrun to the Mediterranean!  
Israeli military commanders and Israeli governments from that time to this have not relished the prospect of returning to those disastrous borders, any more than the U.S. has contemplated giving back California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or part of Florida to Mexico. Now, let us go back into the past, and come to understand BOTH sides of this volatile issue—a conflict that could lead to another destructive WAR in the Mideast—a conflict that could drag the major power into war; a conflict that will eventually lead to ARMAGEDDON! (p. 2.)
Actually some of the settlements have been built on land that was owned by Palestinians. If land in the West Bank is not maintained for three years the Israeli authorities judge that land to be empty and take it as state land from the Palestinian owners to be disposed of as the Israeli government chooses. (Marwan Darweish and Andrew Rigby, Popular Protest in Palestine, 2015, Chapter 5.)

Garner Ted Armstrong complains that "the Palestinian Arabs and Syrians demand that Israel relinquish all lands won by force of arms, including East Jerusalem!" He ignores the fact that international law does not recognize that land as belonging to the State of Israel. This is the same reason the United States, Britain and many other countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem.

It is a false equivalence to compare to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to "California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or part of Florida" because the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were never annexed by the State of Israel. Although the State of Israel ruled over the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since they were not annexed they were not citizens of the State of Israel and thus unable to vote in Israeli elections. Israeli law was not applied to those Palestinians. But at the same time the Israeli settlers who were encouraged by the government to move to settlements in the Palestinian territories were treated as Israeli citizens able to vote in Israeli elections.
The term "Palestine" comes from "Philistine," the name of a tribe that was in virtually a continual state of war with ancient Israel. Goliath, the giant whom David slew with a slingshot, was a Philistine. Misraim, the second son of Ham, begat Casluhim, "out of whom came Philistim" (Genesis 10:14). It would be an error to assert that the present-day Palestinian Arabs are "Philistines." The Philistines were not of Arab stock. (p. 2.)
At least Garner Ted Armstrong gets that right about the Philistines. The Philistines were not Arabs. It is absurd to compare the Palestinians of Gaza with those ancient Philistine people. Even if they were descended from them the identity of the Philistine people has dissipated away through the ages. What is not mentioned in this booklet is that many of the Palestinians in Gaza fled there during the Israeli War of Independence and to this day yearn to go back there.
The story of Abraham's possession of the land of Palestine and the perpetual promises made to him by God is one of the most fascinating in all history. It is only by understanding the call of Abraham that one can truly gain a proper perspective on the whole history of the Mideast. (p. 4.)
The current conflict is a modern problem partly stemming from the rise of nationalist ideologies within Europe. Nation states as we know them simply did not exist until the modern era following the rise of industrialization.
Abraham's children were prophesied to spread abroad to all points of the compass. ... His grandson Esau, Jacob's brother, is the progenitor of the Edomites, commonly believed to be the Turkish people. For a most fascinating insight into the identity of the United States and Britain, as well as the most ancient Europeans and the Germans ... write for your copy of the book, "Europe and America in Prophecy." (p. 4.)
The belief that the Turks are the descendants of the ancient Edomites is nonsense. This idea developed back in Victorian times during the time of the Ottoman Empire.
At no time was Jerusalem ever the political capital of any Arab state. It is important to remember that Israel occupied the land of Palestine after the Exodus when no such religion as "Islam" existed. The peoples of early Palestine were entirely heathen. Many practiced infant sacrifice. They were polytheistic, worshiping "Baal" (Nimrod, or Isis) and various versions of Semiramus, or "Ishtar," (pronounced "Easter") the mother/wife of Nimrod, and founder of the Babylonish mystery religion. (p. 10.)
The claim that Semiramis was the mother and wife of Nimrod is an idea derived from Alexander Hyslop's anti-Catholic polemic, The Two Babylons (1853-8). This teaching is nonsense.

Also he implies that the word Easter came from Ishtar. Actually in Greek, Spanish, French, Russian and many other languages Easter is known as Pascha, the same word used in those languages for the Passover. If Easter is so "pagan" then why is it that in so many languages it is given the same name as the Jewish Passover? This slur against Easter (Pascha) fails to withstand scrutiny.

The nationalist movement to create and then maintain Jewish State is a modern thing. Nationalism as we know it only become possible in the modern era as advances in technology made it possible to people to be more connected with each other. Since nationalism did not exist until the modern era it never occurred to Jews before then to create a Jewish State until the 19th century.

Even after frightening acts of persecution such as the Crusades, or the mass expulsion of Jews from England in 1290 or the mass expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 they never tried to create a state in response to those crises because nationalism as we know it did not exist back then.

It was only in the 19th century as nationalism gained traction in Europe that similar nationalist ideas began to gain political strength among some Jews. Following acts of persecution against Jews in Tsarist Russia in the 1880s onward some Jews began to migrate to Palestine with dreams of creating a Jewish state. Back then Palestine was neither empty nor sparsely populated but rather it was predominantly inhabited by Palestinians and was a part of the Ottoman Empire.

Garner Ted Armstrong then states that the Islamic religion arose after Judaism and Christianity. However it should be noted that many of the Palestinians happen to be Christian, non-religious or even belong to another religion such as the Samaritans.
Islam, or "Mohammedanism," the creation of "Mahomet," did not appear on the world scene until more than six centuries after the birth of Christianity, and more than three centuries after the Council of Nicea [Nicaea] in 325 A.D. The religion of the Middle East was at first that of the patriarchs following the flood, then of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and finally that of Israel, when they were brought out of slavery in Egypt, and into the promised land. There are marked similarities between the religion of Islam and that of Moses, and Muslims claim a distinct relationship to Abraham, not only religiously, but ethnically. (p. 11.)
He states that he heard the call to prayer that is practiced in Muslim majority countries.
There are five religious "duties" in Islam. The first is as expressed above. The second is to practice five legally prescribed acts of prayer each day. In my many visits to the Middle East, I have poignant memories of the recorded voices emanating from loudspeakers in the minarets from Amman to Cairo, and from Jerusalem to Istanbul, echoing about the cities with the "call to prayer." (p. 14.)
But did he listen to their views about political events?

Note below how Garner Ted Armstrong keeps viewing Muslims and Arabs as the same even though most Muslims in the whole world are not Arabs. What a narrow view he had on this matter.
In mosques all over the world of Islam, millions of Arabs kneel in orderly rows, listening to the prayers as they repeatedly press their foreheads to the carpet on the floor. (p. 14.)
He presents a brief introduction to some of the beliefs and practices of Islam. Strangely when mentioning the pilgrimage to Mecca he brings up a novel that is not at all about the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The fifth obligation is to perform at least a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to the holy places in Arabia, preferably Mecca. The Arabic word for pilgrim is "hajj." Once a Moslem has made such a pilgrimage, he is entitled to wear the name like a title, in front of his name. A highly recommended book is "The Haj," by best-selling author Leon Uris of "Exodus" fame, which gives fascinating insight into the attitudes of Arabs and Israelis who lived side by side in Palestine for decades prior to the creation of the state of Israel and the 1967 six-day war. (pp. 14-15.)
It seems odd that while discussing the pilgrimage to Mecca he decides to mention a novel that is not about the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Also it is incorrect to refer to the Jewish community in Palestine as Israelis before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 since the State of Israel did not exist before then. Before 1948 the Jewish community in Palestine was known as the Yishuv (settlement).
They [the Turks] came from the deserts of Turkestan (the term meant "one who looks like a Turk"), and were no doubt Edomites. (p. 16.)
Again it is nonsense to claim that the Turks are the descendants of the Edomites. This is not true.
The Ottoman Empire ruled the Middle East for about seven hundred long years. It is very important to note that not once during this vast period of time was there ever a suggestion on the part of any of the Arab or Turkish leaders that a "separate Palestinian state" be established in Palestine, or that Jerusalem be made a political capital. (p. 16.)
That is because the current borders of the Middle East were drawn up by British and French diplomats during and after World War I. Since Palestine was not politically separated from the surrounding region before World War I there was no need for it to be separate. It was the British authorities that chose to turn Palestine into a distinct political entity with borders separating it from the surrounding nations. At the time the surrounding region was also controlled by Britain and France. Britain controlled Egypt and Jordan. France controlled Syria and Lebanon.
The influence of Islam in the Balkans planted the seeds which have blossomed into genocidal wars for centuries, including the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in recent times, and the protracted butchery that took place between Serbs (many of whom are Greek Orthodox) and Croats (many of whom are of Islam) in Bosnia. (p. 17.)
Note how he simplistically blames one religion for many problems that had afflicted the Balkans over the centuries. He fails to hide his parochial bias. Even though he constantly denounced mainstream Christian churches he still viewed Muslims as outsiders,

Actually there is no genetic difference between Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians. They speak different dialects of the same language. Also the Croatians tend to identity as Catholic. It is the Bosnians who tend to identity as Muslim. Furthermore some non-Muslims living in Bosnia also chose to fight for the fledgling Bosnian state during the long armed struggle for independence.
Lord Balfour's declaration was accepted, which provided for a "Jewish national homeland." The various caliphates and the Ottomans had been in control of Palestine and Jerusalem for many hundreds of years until this time. Never was there a move on the part of the caliphate of Baghdad, or the Ottoman Turkish empire to provide for a separate "Palestinian State," or a move toward making Jerusalem into a political capital. Resulting from the Balfour Declaration, significant Jewish immigration began in 1920, when a British Palestine Mandate was established. The tide of refugees and immigrants swelled considerably in the 1930s as Jews fled Hitler's Germany and other nations in Europe. In 1922 the land east of the Jordan was detached from the Palestine Mandate, and became "Trans-Jordan." (p. 18.)
But who accepted the Balfour Declaration? The declaration was made on November 2, 1917 even before Britain took possession of Jerusalem on December 9, 1917. The Palestinian population had no opportunity to influence that decision. Once they were aware of it they were firmly opposed to the declaration.
As might be expected, the declaration was viewed with great dismay and hostility by the various Arab states in the Mideast. Arabs argue that from the inception of the British Mandate in 1922 there were about half a million Moslems to only 83,790 Jews in Palestine; 71,764 Christians and some 7,000 others. (p. 20.)
Intriguingly he ignores how the Palestinians themselves viewed the Balfour Declaration as wrong and vigorously opposed it instead merely saying that the various Arab states opposed it.

Also he makes a telling error. The figures he mention seem to be based on the 1922 Census of Palestine which was conducted by the British authorities then ruling Mandatory Palestine. However it must be stated that Armstrong's figures differ slightly from those of the census. Consequently it appears as though he is wrong to claim that "Arabs argue" that was the population of Palestine when it was actually the British authorities who compiled the census.

Under the British mandate the Palestinians and the Yishuv were opposed to each other while the British authorities ruled over them all, at times favoring one side and then the other leaving both sides dependent upon British favor. In time Palestinian opposition to the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine erupted into a general strike which after several months turned into an armed insurgency in 1936-9. It was a time of the most severe violence and bloodshed. It was the Palestinians who endured the full wrath of armed repression at the hands of British forces with about 5,000 Palestinians being killed. About 300 Jews of the Yishuv and 262 British were killed during those terrible days.

After the insurgency the British authorities chose to restrict Jewish immigration to Palestine to placate the Palestinians. A small section of the right within the Yishuv led by one Avraham Stern formed an organization named Lehi in 1940 and launched an armed insurgency against the British. The other militias of the Yishuv such as the Palmach and the Irgun, chose not to fight the British at that time. In time the right wing Irgun chose to fight the British in 1944 and the left wing Palmach decided to fight the British on October 1, 1945. Garner Ted Armstrong quotes a poster that Lehi distributed in England after the British seizure of the Exodus in 1947.
During the 1940s the "Fighters for Freedom of Israel [Lehi]" displayed a poster in England worded as follows: 
YOUR GOVERNMENT HAS DIPPED His Majesty's Crown in Jewish blood and polished it with Arab oil —YOUR GOVERNMENT HAS VIOLATED every article of the Eretz-Israel Mandate, Flouted international law and invaded our country. 
Oswiecim [Auschwitz], Dachau and Treblinka made way for the "Exodus" to the Hitler-Bevin Alliance—To the murder of the survivors whom Hitler's wrath could not reach 
That it shall not come to pass again! 
To the very heart of the empire! 
With all the bitterness and fury of our servitude and bondage 
a war of liberation now to avoid a war of enslavement tomorrow. 
Eventually the British authorities decided to cut their losses and withdraw from Palestine with their mandate to end in 1948, partly because of the armed insurgency against them by factions within the Yishuv. With the British authorities out of the way the Yishuv had the opportunity to bring the dream of a Jewish state into fulfillment. The Lehi integrated its armed component into the Israeli Defense Force and its political organization integrated itself into the Israeli right with the Irgun. One Lehi member, Yitzhak Shamir, would later become Prime Minister of the State of Israel (1983-4, 1986-92).
For many years prior to British withdrawal from Palestine, violence had spilled blood between the Arabs and Jews. Such Jewish organizations as the "Haganah," the "Palmach," and the "Irgun" were known to resort to assassinations and terrorist attacks against the occupying British and the Arabs alike. (p. 21.)
The Haganah, Palmach and Irgun were militia groups, not merely "organizations" as he euphemistically calls them.
Late in the 19th century, there also has been heavy Arab immigration from Syria and Lebanon into Palestine. (p. 21.)
This statement is used to belittle the claims of Palestinian refugees' right to return to land in the 1949-67 borders of the State of Israel. During the Israeli War of Independence of 1947-9 about 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes. After the war they were forbidden from returning to their homes by the Israeli government. Their property and lands were confiscated by the Israeli government. The Palestinian refugees were forbidden by the Israeli government from reaping the fruits of their labor and property.
Another war resulted in 1956 when Israel invaded Egypt's Sinai. For a short time, both British and French forces entered into the war, and a U.N. cease fire was arranged by November 6th. (p. 21.)
That war was prompted in part by the British government refusing to respect the Egyptian government's nationalization of the Suez Canal and consequent loss of money to financial interests in Britain and France connected with it. The State of Israel was brought into this alliance against Egypt. This involvement with Britain and France taught the Arab world that the State of Israel was a threat to them having the resources and ability to wage offensive war into neighboring territory.
Never did the three Arab governments propose the creation of a separate Palestinian state in any of these regions, or in any aggregate of them. For one thing, one of the major sources of income for Jordan was tourism. The old city of Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem, among other sites, were favorite tourist attractions, and crowded with pilgrims from the west during Christmas and Easter holidays. (p. 22.)
Palestinian society was in such a state of disrepair after the Israeli War of Independence that in that time the Palestinians had not manged to rebuild their society being scattered as refugees throughout the Arab world. Many Palestinians placed their hope in President Nasser that he would be able to return them to their homes from which they had been expelled from during the Israeli War of Independence. But after the Six Day War many Palestinians saw that Nasser and the Arab world as a whole was simply unable to militarily defeat the State of Israel and this motivated many Palestinians to build up their own institutions with the goal of returning. Israel's victory of 1967 led directly to the rise of Fatah and Yasser Arafat.
When the 1967 six-day war broke out, my father and I were en route to Jerusalem. I had left Pasadena, and was in England, preparing to go on to Jerusalem, where our radio program was to be broadcast to the Mideast for the first time. Mr. Adlai Muhtadi, who was head of the Jordanian Broadcasting Corporation, had arranged for a contract with the station in Jerusalem, which was then in Jordanian hands. .... my father and I intended doing the first few inaugural broadcasts in person. When the war suddenly broke out, Mr. Muhtadi, who has remained a close personal friend, lost his very fine home; found himself back in Amman. The radio station was now no longer in Jordanian hands, so the war brought an end to plans for our broadcast going to the region.  
Mr. Muhtadi is a Palestinian Arab, with a lovely family, several of whom live and work in the United States. He and his wife Saida were here to visit us in our offices near Tyler in 1997. He is a very prominent individual among leaders in the Mideast, and remains a consultant to the Jordanian Government. (p. 22.)
So Garner Ted Armstrong knew this Palestinian man who lost his home because of Israel's victory in the Six Day War and yet amazingly he imagines that Palestinians are annoyed about something that happened 3,500 years ago as he states on page 1? It is little wonder why this individual would be hostile to the State of Israel since he lost his home to Israeli forces advancing in the Six Day War.

Garner Ted Armstrong states he insisted to various Egyptian officials that he was apolitical.
On the first visit, Mr. Muhtadi had set up interviews with several major officials of the Egyptian government, including their "Speaker of the House," (who was later assassinated by terrorists in Cyprus), the publisher of "Al Ahram," the official Cairo daily newspaper, and several cabinet-level members of the government. I wanted them all to know that I was completely "apolitical" in my views; that I intended presenting both sides of all the issues fairly, and these many meetings were necessary to reassure the Egyptian government on that point. (p. 23.)
Garner Ted Armstrong was not apolitical on this matter. Traditionally on this matter the COGs tend to be pro-Israel as is the case with this booklet. Is it right that he should have said this to those Egyptian officials? How could he separate his personal views when making such a production?
Following our formal on-camera interview, I had an opportunity for a free-wheeling discussion with President Sadat, who spoke feelingly of his past, his family, and his younger brother, who had been an officer in the Egyptian Army during the Yom Kippur war, and who had been killed in the fighting. "He was like a son to me," Mr. Sadat said, explaining the large age difference, and how he had helped raise his younger brother. It was obvious he was moved by the loss of his brother. He spoke of how he had died a hero, fighting for Egypt. (p. 23.)
No wonder Egypt had such hostile relations with the State of Israel at the time. President Sadat's own brother died on the field of battle against Israeli forces. And amazingly Garner Ted Armstrong thought that the hostility of much of the Arab world towards the State of Israel is about something that happened 3,500 years ago which he states on page 1.

And during the same interview in which he heard about Sadat's brother he suggests to him to just visit the government that his brother died fighting.
I said, "Mr. President, why don't you just go to Israel? Why not just tell them you're coming, get on your airplane, and go there? You would go down in history as a great leader, who brought peace to the Middle East."
I reminded him that Egypt was the largest Arab nation in population; in labor force. I said, "The Israelis are like a brain trust. There is a very high per capita proportion of scientists, educators, doctors, engineers and the like. Why not combine the very large Egyptian labor force with the skills and expertise of the Israelis for the mutual benefit and prosperity of all?"  
I went on for some time about the tragedy of war, and the great benefits to be had by peaceful cooperation. I had no need to remind him of the poverty and squalor that was everywhere visible in Cairo.  
He told me he could not go to Israel; cited, without naming any specific organizations, the dangers of his doing such a thing because of the outrage it might stir up among his own people; how some of his own supporters might feel betrayed; spoke of his political enemies, and how they might use such a move on his part to their advantage.  
He indicated that he felt he might be rebuffed by the Israelis. I specifically remember saying, "But if you just went there—told them you were en route for personal talks—what would they do? They wouldn't dare shoot down the personal airplane of the President of Egypt!" I mused aloud about how the entire Middle East could become a major power on the world scene; how, if real cooperation among all the Arab states and Israel could occur, a kind of a "United States of the Middle East" could be created which would be of great benefit for all. (pp. 23-4.)
Garner Ted Armstrong wonders if this conversation led to President Sadat's visit to Jerusalem.
At length our meeting came to an end. I have carried vivid memories of it in my mind ever since. I cannot help but wonder, in retrospect, if I planted some seeds of thought in his mind which led to his later actions. Within only months of our talk, in November of 1977, President Anwar Sadat, in a surprise visit, went to Jerusalem to meet Prime Minister Begin of Israel. (p. 24.)
He boasts that during the Cold War he never taught that the Soviet Union would go to war with the United States. The truth is the United States and the Soviet Union were very close to going to war at times, as was seen in the Cuban missile crisis, and we are lucky that such a thing did not happen. Such a cataclysm could well have happened.
For many decades, would-be prognosticators have predicted that the Soviet Union would invade Palestine! This was because of their assumption that the "king of the North" meant Russia, rather than a major ten-nation European power. For over forty-two years, I have said repeatedly that a war between Russia and the United States was not prophesied! During the very darkest days of the cold war; even during the Kennedy-Khrushchev Cuban missile standoff, when the world believed we were on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviets, I was saying over radio and television, and to large live audiences, that we would not go to war with Russia.  
Instead, I continually emphasized that a "United States of Europe" would eventually emerge in Europe, following the collapse of present-day governments, and the emergence of military dictatorships in many countries. (p. 25.)
On pages 26-7 he discusses the Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes by the forces of the Yishuv in the Israeli War of Independence and later in the Six Day War.
For decades, tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs have lived in squalor and poverty in refugee camps. Early on, following the 1967 six-day war, there were encampments in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. 
Today, there are many, many thousands of young Arabs in southern Lebanon, and in the Gaza strip, who have been born in such camps, and who are in their teens, twenties, and early thirties. (p. 26.) 
Actually those Palestinian refugee camps were established as a result of the mass expulsion of Palestinians during the Israeli War of Independence of 1947-9. His own mother, Loma Armstrong, mentioned seeing some of these Palestinian refugees in Syria in 1956, eleven years before the Six Day War. (However her own bias led her to make the ludicrous assertion that Palestine was too small to contain so many Palestinians.)
We were then driven by an Arab to a refugee camp-the most miserable place we had yet seen. We saw one-hundred thousand Arabs living in huts made from old oil cans or anything else they could find. The dust was thick under our feet and the people were filthy and sickly and ragged. They were covered with flies. Most of them were beggars. 
We were told that they had been driven out of Palestine by the Jews but Palestine does not seem large enough to hold the thousands of Arab refugees we saw in all the different places which the Arabs claim were driven out by the Jews from Palestine. (Loma Armstrong, Mrs. Armstrong's Diary, Plain Truth, November 1956, p. 12.)
(Warning: The November 1956 issue contains Holocaust related imagery that some readers may find disturbing.)

One wonders why Garner Ted Armstrong would obscure the fact that thousands of stateless Palestinian refugees lived lives of misery and uncertainty for twenty years before 1967? All that time they yearned to return and still do.

One might think that Garner Ted Armstrong would be sympathetic toward people living lives of poverty in refugees camps who cannot even get a passport because of their stateless status. However he was not sympathetic to their plight. He presents them as being filled with hatred and yearning for revenge. Note the inflammatory manner in which he presents the Palestinian refugees to his readers.
They have been fed a steady diet of hatred by their parents and peers. 
When one sees television reports of the latest riots in Gaza or the West Bank, one almost always sees mere youths hurling stones and bottles at Israeli police or soldiers. Each act of terror from either side fuels additional resentment and hatred; spawns reasons in the minds of the young Arabs for revenge
In recent years, it has become commonplace to see riotous, shouting, weeping, gesticulating young Arabs carrying aloft on their shoulders a coffin, draped with a Palestinian flag, containing the body of yet another of their compatriots who has died as a result of either real or rubber bullets. Each such event fuels yet other events, until the burning hatred in the minds of thousands takes on a life of its own. (p. 26.)
It is clear that Garner Ted Armstrong views these Palestinians in a negative manner.
It must be noted, and thoroughly understood, that, for all the rhetoric and support from Arab governments for the Palestinians' cause—statehood—none of the neighboring Arab governments truly allowed the Palestinians to become assimilated into their populations! For years, then decades, Palestinian Arabs have been kept in "refugee camps" along Israel's borders. (p. 26.)
After the Palestinians were forcibly expelled from what became the State of Israel the neighboring nation states that received these Palestinian refugees wanted the State of Israel to let them return. Now that the fighting was over they wanted the Palestinian refugees to return. But the Israeli government did not allow this. The surrounding nation states did not see why they had to accept the Palestinians as civilians considering that it was the State of Israel's armed forces that had expelled them.
There are several painfully obvious reasons for this: (1) It has been in the interests of Yassir Arafat's PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) to keep these displaced persons in the camps as a continual reminder of their plight; as if they are poised, ready at any moment, to move back into the "occupied territories," meaning lands Israel seized in 1967. (2) The camps have been a hotbed of seething hatred, and a ready source for terrorist attacks into Israel. (3) None of the "host" Arab countries have allowed the Palestinians to assimilate. (p. 26.)
If keeping the Palestinians in refugee camps served the PLO as a PR exercise then what was happening before the rise of Yasser Arafat assumed leadership within the PLO in 1969 after gaining sufficient political support within the PLO after the Battle of Karameh? Previously the neighboring Arab nation states were accused of keeping the Palestinians in refugees camps as a PR exercise as well as may be seen in Leon Uris' 1958 novel, Exodus.
The Palestinian Arabs are progressive, intelligent, energetic. Thousands of them have been allowed to hold jobs in such places as Saudi Arabia (many were deported during the Gulf War because of anti-Israeli sentiments), where they have sent part of their earnings to help support their families in Gaza or in the camps. (p. 26.)
Garner Ted Armstrong seems to be confusing Saudi Arabia for Kuwait. After the Gulf War many Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait as part of the diplomatic fallout of that war. It was most emphatically not for holding "anti-Israeli sentiments". Astoundingly Garner Ted Armstrong gets both the country and the cause for expulsion wrong.

He then discusses the Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982.
One of the most infamous events in the history of Israeli armed forces was on September 16, 1982. Israel had invaded Lebanon in a coordinated land, sea and air attack, because the PLO was openly operating from strongholds inside Lebanon. Its headquarters were in Beirut itself. Syrian armed forces fought against the Israeli armored columns in the southern Bekaa Valley, but Israel eventually encircled Beirut by August 21st. A new government was to be put in place in Lebanon. The Maronite Christian elected Bashir Gemayal, a very popular leader, who was promptly assassinated in a bomb explosion on September 14th. In a rage, Lebanese Christian Phalangists entered two of the refugee camps and slaughtered hundreds of men, women, and children. 
The Israeli armed forces had surrounded the camps. Israeli troops without could hear the gunfire, and Israeli officers were accused of having allowed the Lebanese Christians to enter the camps. A wave of outrage and protest occurred in Israel. For the first time, the elite Israeli Army experienced incidents of soldiers and airmen directly resisting orders from their superiors. A number of Israeli fighter bombers simply dumped their bombs into the sea, because they said they could not trust the veracity of their assigned targets. Were they bombing helpless civilians, or terrorists? (p. 26.)
He neglects to mention how long the massacre lasted. The massacre lasted for thirty-six hours from Friday night till Sunday morning. All that time Israeli soldiers were stationed outside the Palestinian refugee camps.
Southern Lebanon remains a continual battlefield. In 1993, Israel struck back at guerilla [sic] bases in the region with air strikes and artillery barrages, causing over 200,000 people to flee their homes. Again in 1996 Israel struck at terrorist bases, which dislocated some half a million people. The problem is not resolved. Each such attack inevitably causes "collateral" death and injury, and becomes the newest outrage for the displaced Palestinian Arabs. Then, another terrorist attack is planned and executed; Russian-made "katyusha" rockets are launched, which results in yet another Israeli retaliatory air and artillery strike. (p. 27.)
After the initial invasion the State of Israel ruled over southern Lebanon. In 1985 the State of Israel withdrew south ruling over a smaller area. However some of the people of southern Lebanon, who were predominantly Shia Muslims, did not want to be ruled by the State of Israel and launched an armed insurgency to expel the Israeli forces. The insurgency was organized by Hezbollah. Other Lebanese also wished to fight the Israelis in southern Lebanon but Syria made sure arms headed to southern Lebanon only reached Hezbollah essentially monopolizing the insurgency to Hezbollah to give it more power and prestige within Lebanon and the Arab world. When the Lebanese Civil War finally ended in 1992 all sectarian militias were required to disarm except Hezbollah in order to let them continue their armed insurgency against the State of Israel in the hope of regaining southern Lebanon and to please the Syrian government. (The Politics of Sectarianism in Postwar Lebanon, 2015, Chapter 2.) In 2000, two years after the publication of this booklet, the Israeli government unilaterally withdrew from southern Lebanon.

Garner Ted Armstrong also does not directly mention the bombardment of Qana of April 18, 1996 in which 107 people were killed in a United Nations facility by Israeli artillery. Following the withdrawal of Israeli forces in 2000 from southern Lebanon the Israeli artillery was unable to reach that area. (Tim Llewellyn, Spirit of the Phoenix: Beirut and the Story of Lebanon, 2010, pp. 188-90.)

Garner Ted Armstrong mentions how the Israeli government had integrated West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem. It is not mentioned that the 161 nation states that recognize the State of Israel regard East Jerusalem as not legally belonging to the State of Israel because it was acquired by military force during the Six Day War of 1967 so it is viewed by those nation states as occupied territory. That is why many governments placed their embassies at Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem.
When the Jewish government of Israel decided to declare that Jerusalem was once again the capital city of their state, they began implementing complete integration of the formerly divided city. The infrastructure of the city began to become integrated; things like water and electrical lines, telephone lines, sewage lines, streets, bus routes; Jerusalem became one great city.  
When I interviewed long-time Mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kolleck a few years ago, I asked him on camera whether Israel would ever consider "trading land for peace" by handing over east Jerusalem to the Arabs. He said, repeating it twice, very emphatically, "NOT ONE INCH! NOT ONE INCH!" Subsequent national governments have reiterated the same thing. The Netanyahu government has stated over and over again that Jerusalem is "not negotiable," notwithstanding strident claims by Yassir Arafat the Palestinian Authority. (p. 27.)
As part of transforming Jerusalem into the capital of the Jewish state harsh policies were implemented against the Palestinians who were already living in East Jerusalem. (Separate and Unequal: The Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem, 1999.)

Garner Ted Armstrong cites one Israeli newspaper to imply that Iran had acquired nuclear weapons.
In a recent edition of the Jerusalem Post, the HEADLINE shouted, "IRAN HAS THE BOMB!" The article showed that Iran had obtained "several nuclear warheads" from a former Soviet Republic, and that they had been "maintained" by Russian scientists. It was asserted that a U.S. government consultant admitted secret documents had been obtained which were "real, and we have had them for years." Iran, though not Arabic (they are Persians), is Islamic. Iran is known to have harbored and sponsored various of the terrorist organizations which seek to annihilate Israel. ... Israel believes Iran now has a small nuclear arsenal. (p. 29.)
Nineteen years later Iran still has no nuclear weapon. It is safe to say now that that claim was completely wrong.

He mentions tensions between the United States and Iraq in 1998.
Major news media were shrilly trumpeting the possibility of imminent WAR breaking out between the U.S. and Iraq in early 1998, when UN inspectors were hindered from inspecting suspected chemical and biological weapons sites. In this instance, albeit perhaps temporarily, a major war in the gulf was averted when Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, made a quick, desperate journey to Baghdad, gaining a few feeble concessions from the Iraqi government, thus averting a major U.S. air strike perhaps only hours before it was scheduled. (p. 29.)
Starting on page 30 he presents an outlines of events he states will occur in the future. He scare mongers that the far right will arise in Germany. While it is true that in the early 1990s there did occur in Germany a wave of violence by Neo-Nazis against ethnic minorities but thankfully this wave of violence soon dissipated. Nineteen years later the racist, far right in Germany are as marginal as ever.
When that happens, massive unemployment, and the strident voices of ultra-nationalists will be heard in the streets of many nations, especially in Europe and Germany. Already, Germany is witnessing a steep rise in ultra right-wing violence as various neo-Nazi groups commit thuggery, cause riots, demonstrate against the government, and spray graffiti against foreigners. A special, flying riot squad has been organized in Berlin to deal with the rapid rise of skinhead violence. If Germany slips into deep depression, look out! (pp. 30-1.)
He predicts that "race war" will arise in the United States, an absurd and racist prediction.
The United States and Britain will be attacked both from within and from without. Writhing in the midst of unbridled crime and violence; race war; total chaos, our peoples will not be prepared to withstand the combined blows of economic collapse, and the threat, or the actual use, of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons against us. The prophesied "Great Tribulation" ... will have begun. (p. 31.)
Despite what happened in 1969 with Denis Michael Rohan and in 1990 when about twenty Palestinian protesters condemning calls for the construction of a Third Temple were killed by Israeli police and in 1996 when the construction of a tunnel sparked a sort of mini-intifada in which over 100 Palestinians and 24 IDF soldiers were killed Garner Ted Armstrong nevertheless makes the inflammatory speculation that a Third Temple might be constructed in the near future.
At some point in time, perhaps even before point number (6) above, a temple may be built in Jerusalem. IF orthodox Jews destroy the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa mosque in order to replace them with a Jewish temple, all the Arab nations would unite, and a major war would break out. This time, the Arab nations may well use biological and chemical weapons against the Jews. The ostensible reason for European intervention in the Mideast would be to "save" the surviving Jews from being exterminated. This move, by the false prophet AND by combined European armies, would fulfill Christ's prophecies about the "Abomination of Desolation" and "Jerusalem surrounded with armies." (p. 31.)
He insists that the problems in the Middle East are unsolvable.
As you have seen, the roots of conflict in the Mideast are buried very deep in the soil of the past. They extend all the way back to Isaac and Ishmael; to Moses and the Amorites; to David and the Philistines; to the days of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. The conflict extends back to the days of the early Mohammedans who swept into Palestine and Egypt; to the British Mandate following World War I; to the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, and to the 1967 six-day war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The roots of conflict are so deep that no mere humanly devised "peace process" will succeed. (pp. 31-2.)
Amazingly he omits to mentions the rise of the nationalist movement to create a Jewish state in the late 19th Century in Europe, particularly after the pogroms in Tsarist Russia in the early 1880s and work of Theodor Herzl. Traditionally the Jewish community had never strived to create a Jewish state. Even after terrible catastrophes such as the mass expulsion from England in 1290 or the mass expulsion from Spain in 1492 the Jewish community never tried to create a Jewish state. It was only with the rise of nationalist ideologies in 19th Century Europe that some within the Jewish community began to imitate the surrounding Europeans and call for the creation of a Jewish state.

At the end he finally gets to the real purpose of this booklet: an appeal to the reader to help fuel his organization.
ARMAGEDDON is shaping up! It is COMING, and it will affect the WHOLE WORLD! Jesus Christ warned us all, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:36). If YOU are one whom God is calling to take part in His WORK during these last days of proclaiming the witness of Christ; the Good News of His soon coming intervention in human affairs; if YOU are one who wants to have a part in the "work of the watchman" (Ezekiel 33), then call, or write immediately to find the name and number of the hosted fellowship group or chartered church nearest your home. (p. 32.)
Alas, the respite in relations between the State of Israel and the Palestinians came to an end about two years after this booklet's publication. Prime Minister Barak offered about 86% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Yasser Arafat in the Camp David negotiations but insisted on keeping Israeli settlements that had been built over the objections of the Palestinian people and had often been confiscated from the Palestinian people. Arafat had already agreed to relinquish a claim of sovereignty over 78% of what was Mandatory Palestine hoping to get 22%. He refused to give up the claim of sovereignty over parts of the 22% of Mandatory Palestine, the Palestinian territories acquired in 1967, as well.

During the course of the Oslo Peace Process many Israelis perceived that this process legitimized the settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the settler population greatly expanded in the 1990s. This also encouraged the national religious settlers who believe that it is divinely ordained for Jews to settle all the land and expanded settlements seeking to fulfill their nationalist religious ideology. As the settler population expanded more land was taken from the Palestinians. More water was taken by the Israeli government for the benefit of the settlers while water often failed to be delivered for the Palestinians living nearby. Many of the settlements were constructed on hilltops to intimidate the Palestinians. Palestinian land worth a billion dollars was confiscated by the Israeli authorities to build bypass roads connecting the settlements. (The New Intifada, 2001.) Settlers were regarded as citizens of the State of Israel and could vote in elections while these things were denied to the Palestinians living nearby. As the settler population expanded they were protected by Israeli soldiers. The soldiers were there to protect the settlers. Some settlers read between the lines and perceived that they could use violence and intimidation against the Palestinians with little chance of punishment by Israeli judicial authorities.

And so it is seen that this booklet by Garner Ted Armstrong is really an attempt to promote his views about the future. The many important events discussed in this booklet are just part of the package to insist that Garner Ted Armstrong can see the future and foresee that the second coming will be soon.


Also I find myself amazed at the occasional flashes of astounding ignorance displayed in this booklet. One would think that a man who had traveled around the world and even interviewed President Sadat would not write such glaring errors.

On page 1 he implies that Palestinian grievances toward the State of Israel is caused by anger over the conquest of Canaan in the time of Joshua. It is hard to convey how astoundingly ignorant this statement is.

On pages 14-15 while mentioning the Islamic practice of the pilgrimage to Mecca he mentions a novel by Leon Uris named The Haj which has nothing to do with the pilgrimage to Mecca.

On page 17 he says many Croatians are Muslims when in fact they tend to be Catholic. It is the ethnic Bosnians who tend to be Muslim. Furthermore it bears repeating that the Bosnians, Croats and Serbs are genetically speaking the same people. They even all speak differing dialects of the same language which are mutually intelligible.

On page 26 he says Saudi Arabia expelled many Palestinians during the time of the Gulf War for anti-Israeli sentiments when he seems to be actually referring to events in Kuwait.

On page 29 he cites an Israeli newspaper to claim that Iran already had nuclear weapons. Nineteen years later it is now clear that that claim was completely wrong.

On page 31 he claims that some sort of "race war" will occur in America in the near future. What a ridiculous, shameful and inflammatory claim to make.

Clearly there is no need to place any trust in Garner Ted Armstrong.

May peace soon come to the Holy Land.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Portrait of Tensions in Palestine in 1933

Recently by chance I came upon a copy of the 1933 book, This Mighty Hour! The Message of These Stirring Times by Arthur S. Maxwell (1896-1970), a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Later in the 1950s Maxwell would write The Bible Story, a ten volume retelling of the Bible for children.

This Mighty Hour discussed world conditions as they were in 1933. It can be quite useful to see how people of the time viewed events to get a better understanding of the situation. Among many other things he also discussed the situation in Palestine as it was in 1933.

At the time much of the Arab world including Palestine was ruled by Britain and France as part of the (somewhat incomplete) implementation of the Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916. Like America before 1775 there was widespread resentment within the Arab world at being ruled by foreigners and the Arab people of all religions, including the Palestinians, yearned for independence.

Also the British authorities overseeing Palestine allowed Jews to migrate there and join the Jewish community there which was named the Yishuv (settlement). Since the 1880s there had arisen a nationalist movement which dreamed of creating a Jewish state. It arose partly as a response to the horrors of anti-Semitic persecution in Tsarist Russia. The leaders of the Yishuv dreamed of creating a Jewish state. To fulfill this dream in 1901 the nationalist movement had founded the Jewish National Fund which used donations from Jews in the diaspora to purchase Palestinian land for Jewish immigrants in order to bring the dream of a Jewish state into reality. Among the Yishuv the ideal of self-labor and Hebrew labor arose to encourage the Yishuv to employ Jews. The dream of the Yishuv's leaders would become real after an insurgency against the British authorities and the Israeli War of Independence in 1947-9.

Below is what Maxwell wrote about the situation in Palestine on pages 116-120. He mentions tensions regarding the purchase of land and the 1929 riots.


In Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Arabia, Trans-Jordania, there have been similar heart-stirrings since the war. Great promises were made to some of the native peoples of these countries as compensation for their services at the front.  Allegiance was purchased with dream-pictures very difficult to fulfill. Here again old ambitions revived and national aspirations blossomed forth. 
In Palestine, however, a serious complication arose. Seeming to forget the feelings of the hundreds of thousands of Arabs already in possession, Mr. Balfour, in his famous proclamation, virtually handed the country over to the Jews. At least, that is what the Arabs thought when they heard the story of the proposed Jewish National Home. And when they saw the Jews begin to pour into their country from all parts of the world, buying up the land and little by little taking possession of it as their fathers long ago took it from the Canaanites their worst fears seemed to be justified. 
They could not resist the tempting offers of Jewish gold, and yet they bitterly resented the wholesale loss of their heritage. Many indeed did not realize what they were doing when they made the exchange. They were glad enough to be paid four or five times what they thought their land was worth; it was in many cases more money than they had ever expected to see in their lives; but they did not appreciate the fact that they could not return to their homes again, that they must drift into the cities or begin to farm again elsewhere. And oft-times their money was spent before a new holding could be obtained, and all that remained to them was a deep-rooted sense of injury. 
The simmering pot of racial and religious passions boiled over in August, 1929, at the Wailing Wall, claimed as a holy place by both Jews and Mohammadans. Following a dispute as to the right of the Jews to worship there, stones were thrown. Then knives were drawn. The trouble spread. For several days the Arabs engaged in an organised slaughter of Jewish families all over Palestine. It was a ghastly exhibition of murderous fanaticism. When at last order was restored an inquiry was held, and it was admitted by Arab witnesses that practically the whole Mohammadan population was united in hostility towards the Jews because of the fear that they were being dispossessed of their country.
A statement made at the time by the Grand Mufti and president of the Supreme Moslem Council is of special significance:- 
"What has happened in Palestine," he said, "will reverberate in every corner of Moslem Arabia. It is not a religious controversy but a national rebellion in which we have the sympathy and support of all the Moslem Arabs of Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and North Africa. British bayonets may impose tranquility for the moment, but ultimate peace in Palestine and Arabia will never be made so long as the Arabs are forcibly deprived of their rights, their land, and their independence." 
Anyone who has been to Palestine cannot but have noticed the tense feeling that exists between the rival factions. Talking with a Jew in Jerusalem one day, we asked him whether he thought there was any possibility of the Jews recovering possession of the Temple Area and replacing the Mosque of Omar with a modern replica of the temple of Solomon. He replied optimistically, expressing confidence in the power of gold to overcome all religious scruples. The Rothschild millions, he said, might even accomplish this seemingly impossible transition. But we were quickly disabused of this fantastic notion. The sight of an angry mob of Moslems expelling an intruder from the precincts of the mosque was a sufficient answer to such questionings, and convincing evidence that the spirit that burns within the heart of these dwellers in Jerusalem today is the same spirit that burned in the hearts of their forefathers. 
The situation all through Palestine is still full of peril. There is little doubt that, but for the presence of the British, there would soon be general upheaval. If the restraining hand were for any reason withdrawn, the Jewish colonists would instantly be at the mercy of a frenzied and fanatical mob, supplemented by Arabs from Trans-Jordanian and elsewhere, who would swarm to their kinsmen's aid to complete the destruction of their hated enemies. 
What happened in 1929 may not, as the Grand Mufti said, have been a religious controversy; but call it what one may, there are certainly all the elements present for a holy war of the first magnitude. And if such a war should ever break out, judging by the temper of modern Mohammadanism, it would be conducted with all the ferocity of the holy wars of old.
These primitive peoples may have absorbed something of Western culture, but at heart they remain as they ever were. They may have cast off their eastern cloaks for morning suits, exchanged the fez for the trilby hat, adopted new methods of eating, installed wireless and other products of European and American factories in their homes; but underneath all this veneer of civilisation the soul of the Arab, the Turk, the Egyptian, remains untouched. There has been no large conversion to Christianity. No people are more impervious to its teachings. The fiery fanaticism that murdered the Jews in 1929 and massacred the Armenians during the war is by no means dead. The appetite for blind savagery is unabated. Beneath apparent serenity glows a veritable volcano which, in its ultimate eruption, must bring incalculable sorrow upon mankind.


The Balfour declaration was issued without consulting the Palestinian people who were already there. The Palestinians made it clear that they opposed it as soon as they learned of it.

Intriguingly the author makes no mention of Palestinian Christians. Many of the Palestinian Arabs were Christians and this is true today but the author talks of them as Arabs and Muslims. The Palestinian Christians are left unmentioned. Instead the author complains that there had been no mass conversion to Christianity within Mandatory Palestine.

Recently PCG had a British columnist visit their headquarters who downplayed the importance of land in the tensions between the State of Israel and the Palestinians. And yet back in 1933 Maxwell wrote of the Palestinians being worried about those who dreamed of a Jewish National Home "buying up the land," that "they bitterly resented the wholesale loss of their heritage" after their land was sold to the Yishuv, that they did not fully understand what selling land to the Yishuv would mean, that they had "the fear that they were being dispossessed of their country." Just fifteen years later about 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and their land by the forces of the Yishuv. The fear of dispossession proved well founded.

In regards to the sale of land it needs to be mentioned that before the rise of the nationalist movement to create a Jewish state the practice in Palestine regarding farm land was that when the landlord sold it the tenant farmers were simply left to continue farming. The ownership could change but the farmers were secure in knowing that even in such an eventuality they would still be on the land. But when the persons of the nationalist movement began to purchase land using the Jewish National Fund the Yishuv wanted the farmers themselves to be Jews and not Palestinian so the Palestinian farmers were kicked out of their farms. To the Palestinian farmers who were used to having the land change ownership without being personally affected this was a terrible shock.

As Palestinians observed this behavior continuing many Palestinians called for land to not be sold to the Jewish National Fund in order to protect their farms. But as the call went out it also became quite manifest that some landlords would choose to sell the land despite widespread opposition to such transactions among the Palestinian people. Some of those landlords were absent from the land and did not perceive how the Palestinian people viewed these sales.

The author is rather vague about what happened in the riots of August 1929. 133 Jews and 129 Palestinian Arabs were killed in that terrible paroxysm of violence.

One reason for the start of the riots was tensions over arrangements at the Wailing Wall. Among Palestinians there was the fear that the Yishuv wanted to build a Third Temple. And then in 1933 Maxwell happens to talk to a man of the Yishuv who was optimistic that such a thing could be done. Who this man was is left unmentioned. Most likely he was unimportant but it is saddening to see that the author would choose to mention a man saying such inflammatory and unrealistic things in writing this book.

At one point the author talks of "Jewish gold." He also states that this individual in Jerusalem talk of the "Rothschild millions." Such talk is regrettable. We must always guard ourselves against reducing peoples to simplistic stereotypes. It is wrong to stereotype people.

The last paragraph is quite regrettable reading it today with his dire view of Arabs, Turks and Egyptians. In a sense he was foreseeing the advent of decolonization but he viewed it as something to be feared and loathed even though his own nation had gained independence after fighting the military forces of Britain. As the colonized peoples of the world gained more education and experience many yearned for independence. It proved untenable to maintain colonialism once the colonized perceived that they were fully capable of managing their own affairs for themselves and that they did not need the colonizers to rule over them.

Reading this book from 1933 reminds us that the tensions in the Holy Land have been ongoing for a long time. The length of this problem makes a solution producing lasting peace even more urgent. We must not lose hope that such a thing cannot be made and just accept this bloodshed and turmoil as a fact of life. Peace is possible. May peace soon come to the Holy Land.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Overview of the August 2017 Issue of PCG's Philadelphia Trumpet

PCG has released another issue of their recruitment magazine (August 2017) in an attempt to gain more tithes paying converts. Back in 2012 PCG had an income of about $19.5 million according a booklet by their leader, Gerald Flurry. Even as early as 1996 PCG claimed to have more than $5 million in annual income. Recently PCG has even bought its own plane.

Let's take a look at what PCG's leadership are saying this time.

Even though Republican legislators are trying to pass a healthcare law which, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will cause 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance that weighty matter is ignored. Instead the issue argues that one should be worried about nuclear war.

The editors are Gerald Flurry, Stephen Flurry, Joel Hilliker, Brad MacDonald, Richard Palmer, Robert Morley, Jeremiah Jacques, Dennis Leap and Phillip Nice.

The circulation for this issue is 255,897 issues. July's circulation was 267,569. May-June's circulation was 263,551. April's circulation was 267,569 (which happens to be the same as July's figure). March's circulation was 271,949. February was 273,591. January was 267,992. November-December was 277,131.

Gerald Flurry has a particularly bitter personal article condemning the Paris Climate Accord by denouncing it as an attempt to undermine and control America. He also moans about former President Obama for supporting the Paris Climate Accord even though he is no longer president. He defends President Trump's decision to withdraw from it. 

Andrew Müller has an article insisting that there is no scientific consensus that climate change is happening because of the excess emission of greenhouse gases by humans. He implies that concerns about climate change is an attempt "to frighten people into surrendering their freedom to centralized government." (p. 6.) However the vast majority of scientists say that climate change is real and it is being by human activities.

Jorg Mardian has a little article extolling the health benefits of enjoying laughter.

Richard Palmer has an article denouncing the leaders of Britain's Labour Party as "Communists" even though such heated rhetoric has clearly failed to stop the Labour Party's strong electoral performance in the last election. It also includes a side article by Richard Palmer blaming the youth for the Labour Party's increased share of the vote.

Brad MacDonald has an interview with the German journalist Niklas Frank discussing Germany and the journalist's infamous father, Hans Frank.

Stephen Flurry has an article insisting that America is propping up the supposed rise to power of both Europe and Iran. He excoriates Obama for making the nuclear power deal with Iran and Trump for calling on Germany to spend more money on its military.

Kieran Underwood has a little article discussing what would happen if European nations increased their military budgets.

Jeremiah Jacques has an article bemoaning that in his opinion China has succeeded in establishing control of its claimed territory in the South China Sea.

Andrew Müller has an article denouncing the various murders of white South African farmers. As is well known South Africa presently has a severe problem with violent crime which harms everyone of all races and all socioeconomic classes.

Gerald Flurry has an article promoting (PCG's edited version of) Mystery of the Ages insisting that it can reveal various religious teachings about the nature of God.

Joel Hilliker has a little article encouraging readers to manage stress by being healthy. This would be easier to do if a certain proposed legislation, which if passed will cause 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance, gets rejected by the Senate.

Abraham Blondeau has an article scare mongering that the European nation states are a "hidden superpower." The Infographic shares the same theme.

WorldWatch mentions that Germany will establish a military vase in Jordan; NATO is to conduct military operations against ISIL; Lebanon presenting a request for $12 billion in aid from Europe; a spokesman of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps announcing that they will continue to develop their missile capabilities; speculation that Iran has copied a submarine design from North Korea; a thaw in relations between Iran and Hamas; North Korea's test launch of a Hwasong-12 missile on May 14; scare mongering that states and cities bear more debt than is generally acknowledged; and speculation that the newly elected South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-in may ease relations with North Korea.

SocietyWatch mentions gang violence by MS-13 criminal gang in order to condemn President Obama's supposedly soft stance regarding immigration (even though more people were deported under President Obama than any other president); that 36% of respondents in a Gallup poll said that pornography was moral; and citing the murder rate in Baltimore to insist that the murder rate was caused by the riots of 2015 that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. PCG has a long history of condemning Black Lives Matter protesters and insisting that their grievances are wrong and illegitimate.

There are letters. Only four of them this time. Here is one letter from Huntsville, Alabama from a person who used to read HWA's recruitment magazine and seems to be unaware that there are hundreds of COG splinter groups which all teach many of the same things that PCG teach as well.
I used to be hooked on Herbert Armstrong’s magazine. I’d go and find them in the stands everywhere and read them. But then I stopped finding those stands. But when I took my mom to the doctor here in town, low and behold, I found the Philadelphia Trumpet—only this is by Mr. Gerald Flurry. And if you can get the word to him, tell him he is doing a wonderful work. I sure do appreciate it. I have a lot of questions, and none of the other denominations answer them, but Mr. Flurry sure does.
Here is one letter from Phoenix, Arizona from a person of German background insisting that the situation in Europe is worse than what PCG has said. No wonder PCG's writers picked this letter to publish.
I really like getting your magazine! It talks a lot about Europe, and I have a German background, so I’m very interested in what’s going on over there. Your magazine is true. What’s happening over there is far worse than what they are publishing here. I agree with what you say about it.
Here is one letter from Florida.
I am a permanently disabled combat veteran, and I read the magazine every month. I agree with most everything it says, and I don’t agree with much these days.
It is certainly to be hoped that one who had sacrificed so much will be looked after and be blessed with a happy and prosperous life.

For whatever reason there is no mention in this recruitment magazine of the controversy surrounding President Trump's firing of the director of the FBI.

PCG's writers insists that there are so many threats directed toward their audience and yet they make no mention in this issue of the proposed legislation now heading to the Senate which if passed will cause about 24 million to lose their health insurance. No doubt that would include thousands of those who read this recruitment magazine. And yet PCG's leadership says nothing about that in this issue.

And so we see that PCG's 1% has produced yet another issue of their recruitment magazine seeking to gain new recruits and to keep their followers overawed towards PCG's 1% by thinking that they can see the future. They cannot. Since its founding in 1989 PCG has made at least 52 failed predictions. Getting a British columnist to talk at their headquarters cannot change that fact. Clearly PCG's leaders are but false prophets. There is no need to fear their dire proclamations. PCG's leaders are but false prophets.

Banned by HWA: African Children Starving Because of Dietary Restrictions

Recently Banned by HWA had a post noting that some children in Africa are starving because their parents are following various dietary restrictions introduced to them by various Adventist churches, It is so sad to hear that things like this are happening. There is no need for Christians to observe such dietary restrictions.

In the West it is relatively easy to adopt such practices but among the poor in Africa this may not be at all possible. It is terrible that ideas such as this are adding yet more suffering to such people.

Bobby Fischer and Armstrongism

Banned by HWA has highlighted a fascinating website ( by Sharon Mooney discussing Bobby Fischer, the great chess player who back in the 1960s and 1970s was a member of HWA's WCG.

Mooney presents the possibility that Fischer's eccentricities in his later life were caused by his association with Armstrongism. I will state here that when I learned of some of his eccentric behavior in his later years I could not help but wonder if HWA's ideology had done that to him. I suspect everyone who had encountered Armstrongism and got out of it would have the same chilling thought. And as far as I know no one has looked into that issue concerning Fischer in so much detail as Mooney.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

SDF Advances onto ISIL Held Raqqa

The Syrian Democratic Forces are advancing into Raqqa, the de facto "capital" of the criminal network known as ISIL which has been present in that city since 2013 and has enjoyed exclusive control over it since January 2014. The criminal network that has inflicted so much pain and misery throughout Iraq, Syria and the world now has its main stronghold under attack by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

One wishes that ISIL would simply surrender to spare the added suffering that the battle will cause but it is clear that the criminal network will not do that.

May peace soon come to Syria and Iraq.

ISIL Destroys 845 Year Old Mosque in Mosul, Iraq

ISIL has destroyed the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul which dates back to 1172. It was centuries old even when the first Europeans arrived in what is now the United States. ISIL claimed it was destroyed by a coalition airstrike but this appears to not be the case.

How awful it is that yet another historical monument has been destroyed by this fanatical criminal organization. It is so terrible that so many people have been victimized and murdered by this criminal organization which is justly so loathed all over the world.

May the day of ISIL's fall soon dawn.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Foul Fruit of Islamophobia

Recently two incidents of deadly violence against Muslims have occurred showing the danger of promoting Islamophobia, a practice which is all too common among the COGs today.

One 17 year old Muslim woman from Virginia has been murdered with her body found in a lake. A suspect has been arrested.

In London a terrorist drove a van into a crowd of Muslim worshipers leaving a mosque killing one and injuring others. The suspect has been arrested.

We must not demonize categories of people in general. It is shameful that some in the COGs have promoted fear of a vulnerable minority instead of encouraging the best in humanity. Shame on them.

North Korean Regime Claims Another Victim

So saddening to learn of Otto Warmbier's death due to injuries while he was held as a prisoner in North Korea. The family's statement made be read at

So awful and sickening.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

There is No Need to Live in Fear

Recently I listened to an episode of The Conversation in which two women who had gotten out of destructive cults discussed their experiences in the cults and getting out of those destructive life styles. At one point in the conversation of the interviewees mentioned that for years after leaving the cult whenever the words judgment or last days, the apocalypse, end of world, etc, she would be distressed at such talk.

With about seven and a half billion people on Earth it is safe to assume that at any point in time something rather bad is happening somewhere. Watching the news bad things have recently occurred. The fire in Grenfell Tower in London. The mass shooting in San Francisco. The attack against Republican legislators practicing for the congressional baseball game with Representative Steve Scalise still in a critical condition. An Israeli border guard was killed in an armed attack in East Jerusalem.

There are many things that can be said about such harrowing events but these events certainly do not provide any evidence that Herbert Armstrong or any of his imitators know what will happen in the future. Herbert Armstrong and his imitators have made many predictions that have miserably failed.

From 1953 onward Herbert Armstrong, Herman Hoeh and the 1% of the organization taught that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972 and end with Christ's return in 1975.

In 1985 Herbert Armstrong wrote in his book, Mystery of the Ages, that Christ would return within twenty years, that is by 2005. (That passage has since been removed in copies of that book published by Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God after acquiring the copyright in 2003.)

Clearly there is no need to fear or give any respect to the dire proclamations of Herbert Armstrong or any of his imitators. There is no need to live in fear.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reading Mark Mendiola's Article, The Ten Commandments: A Sacred Law for All Nations

The sixth issue of LCG's recruitment magazine, Tomorrow's World (May-June 2000), featured an article by Mark Mendiola entitled "The Ten Commandments: A Sacred Law for All Nations." (pp. 14-18.) This was the sixth of several articles Mendiola would write for this recruitment magazine. Here he makes a political tract condemning the political left and lawyers for requiring publicly funded facilities to not post religious displays, namely the Ten Commandments. One reading this article by itself would have no idea that it is from an organization which teaches things that the vast majority of Christians do not teach.

Let's take a look.
Lawlessness and violence sweeping across the western world have brought the Ten Commandments to the front pages of today’s newspapers. Courts and legislatures contend over public displays of the commandments. Are the Ten Commandments sacred laws for all nations? The Bible’s answer may surprise you.
While the article's title may make the reader think that this is a devotional article it actually reads more as a tract defending attempts to display the Ten Commandments in publicly funded court houses. Instead of a song of praise to God the reader gets a political tract denouncing rulings by federal judges concerning the public display of the Ten Commandments on government property.

Mendiola shrilly claims that the Ten Commandments have been outlawed by federal judges.
Yet, today many want to completely remove the Ten Commandments from public view or consideration—in effect outlawing the greatest, most sacred Law ever given to mankind!
What nonsense. Anyone who wishes to observe the Ten Commandments in the United States is free to do so.
It is ironic and almost unthinkable, but in United States courtrooms American lawyers and judges are hotly debating the legality of displaying the Ten Commandments. This is the very law on which Judeo- Christian principles and civil laws have been based in the western world for hundreds of years. 
And so does this individual  who is not a lawyer or a judge presume to know better than them?

Mendiola proceeds to denounce a Supreme Court ruling in 1980.
... the Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that the Ten Commandments could not be posted in public schools or taught to the nation’s children in public classrooms. In that Stone vs. Graham ruling, the Supreme Court decided that posters of the Ten Commandments displayed in Kentucky schools promoted religion and could not be allowed.
In other words this ruling is the law of the land. We are under no obligation to like this ruling but it is there and has to be adhered to.
Justices on the highest U.S. court also shockingly concluded, "If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments." Apparently, the justices believed this was an undesirable outcome! 
It was about the separation of church and state. There is a debate about whether or not it is appropriate for religious displays to be present in publicly funded buildings considering that some tax payers funding such buildings happen to not share Mendiola's religion. This debate is reflected in the various legal cases concerning this issue and the judicial rulings on this topic. Regardless of how the Supreme Court may rule on this issue if one wishes to observe the Ten Commandments then such a person is free to do so.

Mendiola bewails the legal cases regarding the separation of church and state.
Many state officials also continue to challenge an aggressive attempt on the part of the American Civil Liberties Union and others to remove any display of the Ten Commandments in courthouses or on government property. 
There have been legal clashes in California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah where government officials have defended the right to display the Ten Commandments. In fact, Alabama’s governor in February 1997, threatened to call out state troopers and the National Guard to protect a carved rendition of the Ten Commandments in a judge’s courtroom! 
Mendiola insists that the Ten Commandments will lead to wonderful prosperity for the people of the United States even though he taught elsewhere that the United States is destined to be destroyed.
For the United States or any nation to draw near to the Living God and reap His blessings, the Bible is plain, we must carefully observe His law and commandments and teach them to successive generations. That is how we can obtain wisdom and understanding. 
Mendiola insists that not adhering to his religion is causing all kinds of problems for American society.
By rejecting or breaking God’s Ten Commandments, the United States and other nations are bringing curses on themselves. If the first four commandments that teach respect for God are not kept, the last six also are held in low esteem. The U.S. and other countries are witnessing an outbreak of social problems as a result of violating God’s commandments. It is not well with our nations!
And seventeen years later the United States is as powerful as ever. The possibility of America being conquered by Germans is as distantly remote now as it was back then.

Even though Christianity is the predominant religion of the United States Mendiola bewails that the Ten Commandments are held in contempt.
Yes, God wants our children instructed in His Ten Commandments. Yet, how many young people, let alone adults, can actually recite them at a time when they are held in such contempt?
Mendiola cites various politicians past and present to say that Christian morality is essential to how American society operates. Then he talks about how (LCG's) God expects the Ten Commandments to be taught to children which is freely permitted since the legal argument over publicly displaying the Ten Commandments in court houses is about the separation of church and state. That argument has nothing to do with restricting anyone from observing the Ten Commandments should he or she choose to do so.

One distinguishing feature of LCG and the other Armstrongite organizations is the insistence that the Old Testament laws are to be followed by Christians today.
Ministers who claim Christ did away with the law and that the Ten Commandments are no longer in effect are hard-pressed, however, to explain the Apostle Paul’s plain statements in his epistle to the Romans praising the commandments and God’s law. 
Paul was raised a Jew. Christianity was first taught and adhered to among Jews. Among those early Christians it is reasonable to believe that they continued to adhere to Jewish rituals and practices as part of their culture. But when Christianity began to find an audience outside of the Jewish community the question arose, Must one be a Jew to become a Christian? The church concluded and then taught that it was not necessary to for non-Jews who had converted to become a Jew. Paul strongly taught against this idea as may be seen in Galatians and Acts 15 when they talked about circumcision to become a Jew. Later Jewish religious authorities proclaimed that Christians were not Jews. There is no need for a Christian to keep the Jewish law to be a Christian. HWA was wrong to teach otherwise. Unfortunately Mendiola continued to promote that misunderstanding with this article.

Mendiola cites various figures from the New Testament to praise the Ten Commandments. While mentioning the Apostle John he mentions a fear inducing prophecy of LCG's to insist that terrible times await for his readers.
John describes Satan the devil launching an all-out attack on God’s Church and true saints at this end time.
Armstrongites have continuously insisted since the 1930s that terrible catastrophes will soon occur. And yet the doomsayers of Armstrongism have always been completely wrong. The evidence is clear. The Armstrongite doomsayers are but false prophets. We do not need to fear them.

Mendiola insists that since American society will not adhere to his understanding of the Ten Commandments all sorts of frightful things are happening in the United States.
It is no coincidence that as God’s commandments and law of love are rejected in society, criminal acts of indescribable hatred and violence are breaking out throughout the land.
Mendiola then insists that a new world will soon be established in which the Ten Commandments will be obeyed by everyone and world peace will finally be a reality.
Oh, that there were a heart in all of us that we would read, meditate upon, venerate, obey and keep all of God’s Ten Commandments, that it might be well with us, our children and grandchildren forever! Think of how much different our nations would be if no one broke the commandments against killing, stealing, cursing, lying, coveting or dishonoring our parents or our God. Society would be radically transformed almost beyond comprehension. Then, lawyers, judges and legislators would not need to debate whether the Ten Commandments could be posted in public places or taught to our children.  
Such a wonderful utopia is coming and will be established on earth when Jesus Christ returns as the Great Lawgiver and King of kings in Tomorrow’s World.
HWA and his imitators have always insisted that they had advance knowledge of what will happen to the world. But since the 1930s HWA and his imitators have made so many predictions that simply have not occurred. They clearly cannot see the future. These words cannot be trusted.

And so this political tract comes to an end. Mendiola kept complaining about the Ten Commandments not being allowed to be displayed in publicly funded government buildings such as courthouses following a decision by the Supreme Court in 1980. But regardless of whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed in courthouses or not there is freedom of religion in the United States so Mendiola is free to teach his religion to anyone who is interested. And yet in this article he seems to not notice how much leeway the federal government gives to all religions including his own.

In September 2006 Mendiola left LCG and joined Dave Pack's Restored Church of God. Around 2008 he left RCG and joined Don Billingsley's Church of God-Faithful Flock.