Israel: A History

Like I said in my last post I have to read  a couple of books before my trip to Israel. Though my professor, Brother Dave thought I had already left (I leave on June 16), I appreciate his shout out on his blog. And to his wish for me I hope the trip does change me.

The book that I just finished is called Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert. This is no formal book review but just a mere reflection. The book is pure history and reading it reminded me how much I enjoy reading history. I majored in history after all!

It was a fascinating read to see the determination of a people rallying one goal, one vision. Many of the first Jewish settlers working on their kibbutzim knew that they would never see the day when they would become a recognized State. But they planted and farmed with the hope that generations down the road would realize that hope.

The book contains around 700 pages, which for a guy like me is a monster of a book. I poured into the book the last couple of days because I need to start focusing on studying Modern Hebrew and I found myself greatly affected by the read. I was most overwhelmed by all the wars; all the fighting within and without. Being somewhat of a military buff I was impressed over and over again how Israel fought and won so many battles and wars being outnumbered and surrounded. The most impressive was the Six Day War, where it appeared they were on the brink of destruction and managed to thwart the enemy within a couple of days and even gain territory (which has been a major source of contention the last thirty years and still a huge problem today). Though the Six Day War was an impressive victory that carried “minimal” casualties, I was deeply affected by the quote of an Israel soldier who fought in Jerusalem during the war.

I came back without any joy. The victory didn’t mean anything to me. None of us could even smile, though the people were cheering us when we came through the Mandelbaum Gate. But we had lost 50 per cent of our company. Another company – fifty men – came back with four alive. I never want to go back. I’ve had enough of the place.  I’ll tell you in two words what the battle was: murder and fear, murder and fear. I’ve had enough, enough. We had to do it, though, That’s all I know. But it must never, never happen again. If it doesn’t then perhaps it will have been worthwhile. But only if it never happens.

War is terrible, even if there is a “just cause”. The words “But it must never, never happen again” have stuck with me. It was a tough read because it doesn’t allow anyone to be excused from the reality of hatred that exists in the world. Such are the consequences of Sin. The hatred of the Jews. The hatred of the Arabs. It is terribly sad and tragic and my heart was heavy seeing the mistreatment of both peoples.

I am thankful to be a citizen of a kingdom, the Kingdom of God, where such distinctions are not made. Enemies are to be loved and Christ is to be proclaimed in actions and words. It is a beautiful picture in Revelation where the City’s gates are always opened. A sign of peace. A sign of rest. Until that day may we persevere by the beauty and truth of the Gospel.

I am thankful for the read. It pushed me and made me more aware of the precarious situation in the Middle East. The need to pray is all the more prevalent. May we take up this responsibility with zeal.

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