History is important. It is human memories made secure by documents as well as oral reports. Secured by ancient buildings and scars, by unearthed shards, and, for Christians and Jews, by a Holy Book. There is an interesting small piece of Jewish history found in the Wall Street Journel . Written by Jerold S. Auerbach it is entitled "Remembering the Hebron Massacre: Until 1929, Jews had lived in the city for three millennia."
Here is part of the story:
"No theme is more deeply embedded in Jewish history than exile and return. The biblical exodus from Egypt to the promised land, the return from Babylonian exile, and, most recently, the establishment of the state of Israel all affirmed the enduring determination of the Jewish people to return to their homeland.
Yet another wrenching exile and return, now rarely remembered, occurred 80 years ago this week. On Aug. 23-24, 1929, the Jewish community of Hebron was exiled following a horrific pogrom. The tragedy is known as Tarpat, an acronym for its date in the Hebrew calendar. Until 1929, Jews had lived in Hebron for three millennia. There, according to Jewish tradition, Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah to bury Sarah. It was the first parcel of land owned by the Jewish people in their promised land. Ever since, religious Jews revered Hebron as the burial site of their matriarchs and patriarchs. Conquered, massacred and expelled over the centuries, Jews always returned to this sacred place."
The story, if you read it, goes on to tell of yet another massacre and another return. The massacre almost twenty years before the 1948 birth of Israel, the return forty years later after the 1967 war.
When I read the above article I thought of a piece I read today linked to by ChurchandWorld.Com. It was at Ecumenical News International. And it is the same old story. The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Samuel Kobia, is calling, without any context, the 'occupation' of Palestine by Israel a sin.
His labeling of the Israelites as sinners, (we all are) is laid not only at the 1967 war but goes all the way back to the 1948 war, when five Arab nations attacked the new State of Israel.
According to the article, Kobia stated the "Israelis recalled 'The War of Independence' that led to the foundation of the State of Israel, for Palestinians the period would always be known as the 'Nakba' or 'catastrophe'. Many Palestinians would remember this as 'a form of 'ethnic cleansing' that saw the largest forced migration in modern history', Kobia said. "It is estimated that no less than a million people were expelled from their homes at gunpoint, civilians were massacred, hundreds of Palestinian villages deliberately destroyed, mosques and churches profaned, and convents and schools vandalised."
What a sorry half story, and because of that a false story. Truly what sinners we all are.
Thinking once again of history, of what constitutes the reality of history for the Christian. The history of the Church is where human history is touched by God. More than that it is where human history is overcome by God, by Emanuel.
This Church, the Church, the universal Church, reaches back before creation and is found in the heart and mind of God. It reaches onward through eternity, it encompasses those gone before, those dwelling on earth, those in heaven.
And then there is the particular Church. It does not matter whether Baptist or Presbyterian, etc, it is the body of Christ gathered before the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But what has this to do with history, and Israel and false stories that are called history.
Institutions are needed for various reasons. But sometimes they turn inward and in doing so create their own ideologies and from their own ideologies shape their own understanding of history. The World Council of Churches sometimes launches its own ship viewing history from its own ideology.
Kobia seemingly has not read the full and true history of that time, that time that grew out of and replaced the time of the Holocaust and all that went before it. He knows nothing of the sins of both parties, only Israel, the Jews he blames.
Where the Church confesses Christ as Lord she will confess him also Lord of history. She will not listen to the pronouncements or the historical untruths of worldly organizations and institutions. Jesus Christ is truth, may his Church know truth.
Up-Date: For extra information on Hebron: see What Happened in Hebron? by Seth Lipsky.
The author ends his story with this information and a link.
"In 1968, a group of Jews, lead by Rabbi Moshe Levinger and his family and animated by Zionist fundamentals and reverence for the patriarchs, moved back to Hebron and have been there ever since, often, it seems, to the consternation not only of the diplomats and the Arabs but even of many Israelis, some of the Jewish institutions, and of the current administration in Washington. The date on which Levinger and his followers mark the anniversary of the massacre is known by the acronym Tarpat, for the Hebrew date, which has just passed. Their community has posted to the internet a group of photos of some of those who perished and of the desecration of religious objects. A lot of things have been said about the Hebron Jews. But one thing that cannot be said is that they are prepared to abandon Hebron in the face of the kinds of danger that overwhelmed their forebears 80 years ago."