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Plowing Fields and Roads in a Life and Death Palestinian Struggle for Freedom
Ray Hanania
March 12, 2001

Ramallah, Palestine -- The hot sun beats down on a hillside field the size of a baseball diamond where a Palestinian man in a light shirt and baggy old pants tugs on the leather straps that navigates his horse and plow through the dry brown dirt and large rocks.

About 20 yards away at an intersection that connects two Palestinian towns, a thousand Palestinians have gathered to peacefully call on Israel to end a three month siege that has imprisoned more than 600,000 civilians in 33 nearby villages and towns.

The protesters are weary of the blockade which has frozen them from their jobs, prevented families from reuniting and forced them to ration food and water to stay alive. In the hills above, the Israelis have positioned a camouflaged tank with its large cannon pointing directly at the protest leaders. About 5 heavily armed Israeli soldiers position themselves behind armored personnel carriers and jeeps, watching as the protesters approach the dirt mounds.

They walk slowly but defiantly with their heads up in the air waving Palestinian flags and banners that decry the new Israeli form of "collective punishment." Using heavy construction plows, the Israelis have dug deep moats through any of the roads, piling the crumbled rock, dirt and pavement into high mounds that blockade cars and traffic.

It is a cruel form of punishment in a land where cruelty has been ratcheted up to new precedents in this on-going Palestinian Israel battle.

When they reach the mounds, a yellow truck with a large plow slowly drives up to begin pushing the dirt back into the trenches that cut the roads in half.

Not all of the Palestinians standing behind the plows that desperately try to restore the roads to makeshift use are protesters. Many are just civilians who are forced to walk the five miles between the two towns.

One old woman wearing a worn, colorfully embroidered Palestinian dress balances a large and heavy burlap wrapped sack of vegetables precariously on her head. Her left arm swings nonchalantly while her right hand holds the bundle in place. She is followed by two young children drawn to the site of the crowds and colorful flags waving in the air above.

It is a bizarre scene, right out of the movie, Apocalypse Now. A boy waving one of the flags has a small black cellular phone tight against his right ear. Everyone has a cell phone, including the priests and Imams who join in the protest, the leaders at the head of the protest, and even the Israeli soldiers who watch from above. TV camera crews loiter nearby, waiting for "something" to happen. Many of the people there have come to protest. Others have come to watch.

No one is shouting. No one is throwing rocks. No one is doing anything, except staring as the plows attempt to restore the road.

And that is when you hear the sounds of several deep pops!

A thin trail of white smoke forms an arch of a cloudy rainbow that shoots out from the muzzle of an Israeli soldier's mortar. The canister bounces on the ground among the crowd and then pops again, bursting into a large cloud of tear gas burning the eyes of the civilians who duck for cover.

The civilians scatter, but they quickly reform near the road blocks and moats as the wind carries the deadly cloud away.

Two more deep pops and the eye follows the trail of smoke from the guns above landing in the center of the protesters, who scatter again.

No one has thrown a rock. No one has fired a weapon at the Israelis.

Leaders of the protesters argue loudly with several young men who have perched themselves along the hillside's rocky ridge, and scream at the soldiers to stop.

When one young man bends down to pick up a stone, the symbol of the Palestinian David in his fight against the Israeli Goliath, a new crackling sound replaces the tear gas.

And before a stone can even catapulted in the air in the direction of the soldiers, the Israelis in their bullet proof vests, wearing thick helmets have pulled the triggers on the guns that have been sighting the entire time.

Many of the soldiers who fire are lining against the cinder block walls of a Palestinian home whose occupants were removed at gun point and occupied by the soldiers many months earlier.

Palestinian ambulances, teetering on the edge of breakdown, race down the road from Ramallah through the scattering crowd in a bizarre scene. Sirens wailing. Red lights flashing, the white ambulance trucks with the Red Crescent painted on their sides have an easy time finding victims who randomly drop all around.

A 27 year old man who stood on a ridge more than 100 yards away from the Israel soldiers, drops dead like a lifeless doll. Carrying bright orange gurneys, medical personnel rush to the man's side and lift him onto their stretchers and race back to the cars. His name is Abdul Qadir Mohammad Ibrahim. But that is all anyone knows.

Several others are rushed out on the shoulders of friends, blood gushing from the sides of their heads and shoulders. Steel ball bearings as thick as almonds and covered with plastic litter the ground. These "plastic bullets" are not plastic at all, and take their toll indiscriminately against men, women and even some children in the crowds.

It happens very quickly.

The ambulances drive in and out repeatedly. The Israeli armored carriers and jeeps with their thick wire mesh across their windows and their blue lights spinning, rush in to secure the road.

The protesters have run back along the roads and even through the field where the farmer tries to pull his horse and plow out of danger's way.

Rock throwers, immortalized in the Biblical battle but cleverly demonized by an Israeli propaganda campaign, did not start this battle.  The Israeli soldiers did.

There was no reason to fire with live ammunition. The Palestinians just wanted to open the roads that have put them in an economic choke hold.  But the local news reports that day and those later broadcast around the world show three stone throwers in their report.

According to veterans of the first "Intifadah," or the Palestinian rebellion, this Intifadah is worse than before. The suffering is greater. The Israeli cruelty is more perverse.

When it is all over, and the civilians have returned to their homes, Israeli bulldozers return to dig out the deep trenches again, crushing the vegetables that have spilled from their burlap bag onto the useless road.

And it isn't long before the farmer whose leather skin is tanned a deep brown from the hot sun, returns to his field with his own plow. The scene will be repeated again at this intersection. There is very little else he can do.
Proclamation of the Fourth International Christian Congress on Biblical Zionism
International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem

The following Proclamation was adopted at the Fourth International Christian Congress on Biblical Zionism, convened in Jerusalem from February 19th to 22nd, 2001. The Congress, attended by approximately 700 delegates and other participants representing over 25 countries, was sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

I.  Preamble
We, the delegates to the Fourth International Christian Congress on Biblical Zionism, have assembled in Jerusalem on this 22nd day of February 2001. We have convened at the onset of a new millennium, and at a time when Israel and the Jewish people face many challenges, both ancient and new. This Congress seeks to define more fully, in the light of God's Word, how Christians can fulfil our biblical command to stand with, bless and support Israel as we enter the twenty-first century.  Drawing on the principles and promises of Scripture, we aspire:

II.  Definition of Biblical Zionism
Biblical Zionism is the firm belief that God chose the Jewish people and bequeathed to them as an everlasting possession the Land of Canaan, so that they should give to the world His Word, men of faith, the Messiah and a living example of what it means to follow this one true God and experience His faithfulness and correction. It holds that the modern restoration of Israel is not a political anomaly, but evidence of God's on-going faithfulness to His people through His covenant made with the Patriarch Abraham.

III.  Congress Resolutions
This Congress builds upon, recognizes and embraces the Resolutions passed at the three previous Christian Congresses on Zionism convened in 1985, 1988 and 1996, and specifically endorses the "Affirmation of Christian Zionism" set forth in the Proclamation adopted at the Third International Christian Zionist Congress.

We declare our steadfast belief in that glorious vision of coming peace for Israel and for the world which was first proclaimed in times past in the sacred writings of the Hebrew prophets and confirmed by our Lord and His Apostles. We consider this biblical concept of peace to be one that has furnished hope and shaped human history like none other, inspiring faith and uprightness throughout successive generations and surpassing still any other path to world peace yet conceived of man. It is our enduring devotion to this promised epoch of Messianic peace and rest that ever governs our approach to the present circumstances confronting Israel, the Church and the world (Isaiah 2:1-3).

To Israel, we speak tenderly that we have borne witness to the tremendous pressures exerted on you to cede portions of your divine inheritance in exchange for unreliable assurances of peace. We attest that your nation has earnestly and sincerely pursued peace with your Arab neighbors, only to be met with terrorism and the sword of Islam. We are fully aware that, as a result, many in Israel are disillusioned and weary of the struggle over your existence.

It is our sense that this generation of Jews is undergoing a divine testing of faith with regard to your people's ancient and profound attachment to the Land of Israel, and particularly to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. We urge that Israel and the Diaspora not be intimidated by Muslim threats meant to coerce you into degrading or severing your deep spiritual and historic bond to this precious heritage, which remains central to your promised national redemption. We firmly believe that your cause is just and that the Lord God, King of the Universe, will preserve you and ultimately will vindicate you before all nations.

We commend Israel's exemplary record in protecting and allowing access to biblical sites in the Land. We urge that Israeli leaders take immediate action to preserve the archaeological remains of the Jewish temples on the Temple Mount from the wanton destruction carried out by Muslim authorities in recent years. This and other biblical sites are of great importance to Christians as well, and must be preserved from Muslim encroachment.

We recognize that the great Aliyah lies on a biblical foundation; therefore we encourage Jews worldwide to continue the return to Eretz Israel.

To the Church, we issue the challenge to hold fast to our Great Hope - the coming of the Lord - in the face of ridicule, unbelief and opposition, and to realize that it is dependent upon the triumph of Biblical Zionism. Furthermore, Biblical Zionism recognizes the debt that Christians owe the Jewish people, since we share in their spiritual blessings and it involves redressing this debt by demonstrating our concern for them through deeds of genuine love (Psalm 122:6; Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 15:27). Christians must take courageous action to support the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel in all its parts; to comfort and pray for them in their trials and adversities; and to proclaim to all men that their election is irrevocable, and was and is meant to bring about God's redemptive plan for the whole world (John 4:22; Romans 3:1-2; Romans 9:1-5; Romans 11:29).

The promised restoration of Israel is to be understood as a two-phased process, encompassing a restoration to the Land followed by a restoration to the Lord, the God of Israel (Ezekiel 36:24-28; Jeremiah 24:6-7). This is an irreversible process, since we are promised that there will never be another exile (Amos 9:15; Isaiah 11:11). And while Israel has been promised the entire Land, we nevertheless must allow room for God to judge the nation of Israel in her borders, just as in biblical days, as His chosen means of divine correction, knowing His higher goal is to bring her to Himself (Ezekiel 11:10-11; Ezekiel 20:33-44; Hosea 5:14-6:3). Regardless of political developments within the Jewish State, we are to stand by her, encourage her, make her jealous by our zeal for Him and for His Word, and declare the Word of God to her concerning her destiny (Isaiah 62:1-12; Romans 11:11).

The Church is commanded to honor the natural olive tree of Israel into which we have been grafted (Romans 11:17-18). We note that there is a Body of Messiah in the Land of Israel today with much to offer the universal Body of believers - a living testament to the Jewish roots of our faith and to the faithfulness of God to His promises, and a means to counter anti-Semitism and encourage the Church in the nations to embrace Biblical Zionism.

Resolutions in prior Congresses have dealt extensively with the doctrinal error of Replacement Theology. We note the growing usage of Liberation Theology to build support for the cause of Palestinian nationalism, and view it as a belief system that misapplies the message of Scripture in pursuit of a humanistic form of social justice. The Bible indeed charges Christians to speak truth and have compassion upon all men. But God in His mercy cannot bless a lie, nor can He bless the pursuit of a false god. It is inescapable truth that much of the suffering among the Palestinian Arab people is, first and foremost, a product of their own callous and corrupt leadership.Further, the Palestinian nationalist movement has aligned itself with a larger Islamic agenda that is unsupported by any reasonable interpretation of Scripture. In contrast, the Bible puts its full weight behind the Return of the Jewish Exiles to Eretz Israel. Therefore, Christians have no biblical grounds on which to base support for Palestinian nationalism (Jeremiah 31:10-12; Luke 21:24).

We also urge the Church to recognize that local Christian Arabs have been living under unbearable circumstances due to abusive Islamic coercion and intimidation.

We strongly condemn the deliberate Palestinian falsification of the historical identity of Jesus and his early Jewish followers, and their exploitation of His sufferings and sacrifice for temporal and devious political purposes. We urge Christians everywhere to refute such distortions, which are intended to arouse Christian anti-Semitism.

To the world, we assert that the Holy Scriptures clearly foretell of a coming time of blessed rest and peace for the whole earth. No greater hope has ever been instilled in the heart of mankind, as when "they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).

The Scriptures also reveal that this age of peace will be preceded by the restoration of Israel, which will come in the midst of great conflict and distress, as the nations resist and oppose the Jewish return to Zion. It has not been hidden from man that ultimately God will judge the nations for coming against the Jewish people whom He has re-gathered in Jerusalem (Joel 3). And it is only after the Lord "rebukes strong nations" for these actions that the promised universal peace shall prevail (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).

Thus, we admonish all nations and peoples that those who seek to dislodge the Jewish people from any part of Jerusalem, to disinvest Israel of her bequeathed inheritance, or to divide the Land of Israel are placing themselves in conflict with the God of the Bible (Joel 3:1-3). Indeed, they shall rupture themselves and fall irreparably under the judgment of God (Zechariah 12:1-9). Ultimately, we affirm that the restoration of Israel will usher in the coming of the Messiah to the Mount of Olives, as the Hebrew prophet Zechariah declares (14:3-20), and bring rest to God's people and the entire world.