The amazing “drama” just before Israel’s Declaration of Independence
It is May 14th, 1948—exactly 70 years ago on the Hebrew calendar—and U.S. President Harry Truman comes into the Oval Office. He summons his trusted aide, Clark Clifford, who had been advocating for the President to recognize the soon-to-be declared State of Israel. However, Truman was under tremendous pressure from the State Department to refuse any formal recognition of Israel.
They were convinced that the 34,000,000 Arabs would destroy the 500,000 Jews in a matter of days. To allow Israel to be a nation would be potentially signing the death warrants of a half million people.
However, Truman told Clifford that he was leaning towards recognition, but wanted to wait a few days. Clifford’s heart sank. That would be too late. Boldly, he declared, “Mr. President, if we are going to recognize the country, it’s best we do it immediately.”
Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president and most prominent pre-nation diplomat had become friends with President Truman. Just days before, Truman had received a letter from Weizmann pleading with him for immediate recognition of the new nation. No doubt Truman was thinking of his friend when he blurted out, “Alright Clark, get a formal request for recognition immediately.”
Clifford straightaway called the head of the Jewish Agency to confirm that they were indeed planning to declare independence later that day. “I haven’t the slightest doubt,” came the reply.
“Then send me a letter immediately, requesting United States recognition,” declared the excited Clifford.
Eliahu Elat, the head of the Jewish Agency, was stunned. He was speechless. When he finally found his voice, he said, “I’ll send it by messenger right away.”
But there was a problem—as they were writing the letter, they realized, they did not know the name of the Jewish nation. The Jewish National Council (JNC) in the Holy Land had not yet decided. So they wrote,
“Dear Mr. President,
“I have the honor to notify you that the Jewish State has been proclaimed as an independent republic…”
Harry Zinder was given the letter and told to rush it over to the White House and give it to Clark Clifford.
Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, the JNC had gathered. They were never all in the same place at one time, lest the Arab forces could take them all out in one strike. But this was different—this was the Declaration of Independence. They gathered for a secret meeting in a Tel Aviv museum. They did not even want the British (who still controlled the region until midnight) to know, for fear they would shut it down.
The text of the declaration was with Ze’ev Sherf, who, after taking care of transportation for everyone else, forgot to arrange a ride for himself to the ceremony. He flagged down a car, which refused to take him. However, Sherf would not take no for an answer. On the way, they were pulled over for speeding and had to explain to the police officer that he was carrying the Declaration of Independence text!
He arrived at 3:59. The ceremony started at 4:00pm. They had to finish before the Sabbath. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion rose to the microphone and the State of Israel was declared!
“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the Bible.
“After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.
Accordingly we, the representatives of the Jewish community of the Land of Israel, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British mandate over the Land of Israel…hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”
Israel was reborn after more than 2,000 years.
When news came to the US that the name of the new nation was Israel, Elat sent his secretary to run down Zinder. She caught him before he entered the White House. Zinder, after learning of the name that had been chosen, took out the document, and with a pen, crossed out the words, “the Jewish State” and wrote by hand, “State of Israel.”
President Truman wrote:
“This government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel.”
You can see in the picture of the President’s response, they did some editing themselves. This shows that the letter had already been written before Israel was declared.
Now, fast forward 70 years. Today, we celebrate 70 years of the rebirthed nation of Israel. Only God could have gathered the Jewish people back to her homeland, and only God could have protected us these 70 years, surrounded by our increasingly violent neighbors.
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, April 19, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.
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Commentary on Parashat Tazria (She Conceives) & Metzora (Leprosy)
VaYiqra (Leviticus) 12:1–13:8 & 14:1–15:33
Why was leprosy such an issue in the Bible? In this week’s reading, the issue of leprosy comes up, and God is very precise in His instructions regarding how to handle the disease. Leprosy is a very contagious skin disease, and easily spreads from person to person. For this reason, a person who was diagnosed with it in the time of the ancient Israelites had to stay outside the camp, meaning s/he had to leave his family, friends, and personal dwelling, and was forbidden from offering sacrifices in the sanctuary to the Lord. It was very obvious from the outside that a person had leprosy, and no one wanted to be near this unclean person or touch him. You could say anyone with leprosy was shunned, and was basically an outcast!
Leviticus 13 describes in detail how the priests would identify leprosy:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling or a scab or a bright spot, and it becomes an infection of leprosy on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons the priests. And the priest shall look at the mark on the skin of the body, and if the hair in the infection has turned white and the infection appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is an infection of leprosy; when the priest has looked at him, he shall pronounce him unclean.”
Note here that the priests had to examine the outer condition of a person’s appearance in order to determine if s/he was clean or unclean. While they were doing this to protect the rest of the people from catching this deadly disease, we can consider a possible deeper meaning of how we judge someone on his or her appearance. We should be very careful not to judge a person based on what we see on the outside; the Lord cares about the heart, and He desires for the “inside” to be cleansed and purified over the outward appearance.
As followers of Messiah, it is especially important that we not judge people by what we see on the outside. Whether it’s a physical ailment, the color of a person’s skin, ethnicity, or religious attire, we must guard ourselves from shunning people. Our own personal bias often gets in the way of seeing a person as s/he was created: in God’s image. Not only does this create barriers that Yeshua tore down by the shedding of His blood (Ephesians 2:13–14), but it can prevent a person from being healed. Our Teacher was a wonderful example of seeing someone’s heart, and not just his outward appearance:
And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about, to such an extent that Yeshua could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.”
Note that it took a lot of faith from the leper to come to Yeshua (i.e. into the camp). He defied the social norm and religious rules of the time by daring to associate with a clean person (Yeshua); the leper risked causing Yeshua to be unclean! Yet, Yeshua “moved with compassion”, stretched His hand out and touched the leper, which healed and cleansed him. While the text does not explicitly refer to it, I believe the leper was also healed spiritually. The leper’s testimony was amazing proof of the authority that Yeshua had, and as a result many others wanted to come and receive healing as well.
What’s your testimony of the Lord’s healing in your life, physical or spiritual? Let me encourage you to share it so that others can also find healing in Messiah!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, April 18, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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Celebrating Israel’s 70 Years of Independence!
Tel Aviv, Israel - Aerial view of Ramat Gan district from 49th floor of Circular Tower, one of three skyscrapers of Azrieli Center complex in Tel Aviv
This week Israel will reach a massive milestone in its history: celebrating 70 years of independence. Israel’s re-establishment and its achievements over the past seven decades are astonishing and by far beat the odds of the cards dealt to it on May 14th, 1948.
Looking back to the past 70 years, and even beyond that, tell an amazing story of faith, hardships, perseverance, morality, resilience, resolve, comradery and much more that clearly points towards Israel’s bright and promising future. This is a unique opportunity in time to honour and celebrate Israel’s amazing achievements and progress.
To appreciate Israel’s standing today, we need to recall what it sprouted from. Just before the turn of the previous century, Israel (then called “Palestine”) was nothing but a desolate desert of sand, rocks, ruins and Malaria infested swamps. When Mark Twain travelled through the land in the 19th century he described the land as “desolate and unlovely”, “devoid of inhabitants” where “one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings”. Others who travelled through the land also recorded similar descriptions.
Since then waves of Jewish immigration began to hit the Israel’s shores as the first pioneers turned the desert into fertile land, dried up the swamps, built roads, cities, schools, universities and infrastructure, albeit not without tremendous opposition. As soon as David Ben-Gurion declared Israel to be a homeland for the Jewish people it came under attack by an overwhelming number of Arab armies. Israel not only overcame an almost definite defeat but increased its territory significantly.
In the years that followed Israel triumphed in many additional military conflicts, some of them on multiple front simultaneously, and has become an internationally recognized military powerhouse that contributes volumes to the security of dozens of nations, most of the time without the knowledge of their own citizens! Nations flock to Israel to seek its game-changing military and defence systems such as the world renown Iron Dome, UAV’s, optic and vision devices and much more.
Israel’s economy has developed into a leading economy, and despite being barely 70 years old, has been defined as a “Developed Economy” for years, and is part of the OECD nations. Its international credit ranking has been upgraded multiple times by all three major credit ranking agencies (S&P’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings) with a current A+, Stable outlook.
Israel’s market is booming with a multitude of technologies and solutions that affect the daily lives of countless people all over the world in many facets of life. Of the world’s six largest companies in the world, five of them have significant R&D centres in Israel (Apple, Alphabet Inc. – Google’s parent company, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook), and the sixth, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, has made significant investments in Israel. In fact, their first major purchase of a foreign company outside of the U.S. was done in Israel!
Through agricultural technologies, water saving, desalination and production, Israel is changing the lives of farmers all over the globe, especially in rural nations where the population majority live off the produce of their land. Israel recycles 90% of its wastewater and is ranked first in the world for this capability. The second nation, Spain, recycles less than 20%! Now Israel is teaching other nations with water shortages how to do the same thing. Not only saving water but also producing it out of nowhere! WaterGen, an Israeli company, has developed a technology that extracts water from the humidity in the air, making it possible for families in Africa to drink clean, fresh water daily without walking for hours to the nearest well.
Do you use Google Maps or Waze? Social Navigation was created by Israelis. The popular social-based navigation App “Waze” was developed in Israel and later purchased by Google for a reported $1.6 Billion. Presently, the Israeli Waze technology that allows drivers to avoid traffic jams, reports hazards and know in advance of speed cameras is the underlying technology for Google Maps as well.
In the coming years we will see the first autonomous cars rolling into the markets. The joint venture between several companies from different industries will revolutionize the automobile industry, and perhaps life as we know it. BMW is supplies the vehicles, Intel the processing power, but the core technology that will allow cars to drive themselves is being developed by Mobileye. This Israeli company with its headquarters located in Jerusalem, was purchased by Intel for a staggering $15 Billion USD in 2017.
Volumes more could be written about Israel’s achievements as a nation over the past 70 years, socially, militarily, economically and politically. But the point is clear – Israel has thrived and despite its small size in land and population, constant threats and challenges, it has risen over them and is influencing the world far beyond its weight.
We salute Israel on its 70th birthday and look forward to the next 70 years far outshining the first.
This article originally appeared on Wise Money Israel, April 18, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Being passionate about both ministry and business, Stefan serves as the Executive Pastor at the vibrant Messianic-Israeli congregation Kerem-El in Haifa along with his wife Keren, an Israeli worship leader and songwriter. He serves as a Director at Wise Money Israel, the first Jewish believer-run Investment Portfolio Management firm in Israel working with individuals, ministries and organizations around the globe to invest in Israel.
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Israel remembers at 70
Illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham
As Iran (Persia) this week has vociferously threatened to destroy the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv, some 190,000 old Jewish survivors of the Nazi holocaust dwelling in those cities listened. Many with the tattooed numbers still on their arms from the Nazi death camps, and the horrors forever seared into their memories of that attempt to annihilate the Jewish people of Europe. Those who could still stand rose to the sound of the air raid sirens that wailed across this nation like a weeping woman for three minutes of remembering on Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom ha Shoah) this same week.
But has not the Prophet Daniel pre-visioned such a day in the scroll? He has foretold that the very Prince of Persia would be a driving force to confront the people of YHVH. In chapter 10 of Daniel is written of the heavenly Messenger Gabriel:
“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the Prince of the kingdom of Persia resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the latter days (aharit hayamim), for the vision concerns a time yet to come…. However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince (10:21)…Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued” (12:1).
Today the power of Persia has risen to become the epicenter of the Islamic Revolution, which began in 1979, the very year I arrived in Israel. Since that time threats of Israel’s destruction have not ceased from the Islamic Republic of Iran, to this day. Iran is far from the borders of Israel, which offers no threat to its existence, and yet it appears willing to sacrifice itself for the sake of its irrational hated of Zion.
Also the Prophet Ezekiel foretold of a time that G-d would re-gather the daughter of Jerusalem to her former estate, and at the same time restore the daughters of Samaria and of Sodom to their former estates, and the latter two would hate the daughter of Jerusalem (chapter 16). And in chapter 36 foretold of this re-gathering of Israel to the land for G-d’s name’s sake, not for the people of Israel alone, and it would be done before the eyes of all the nations. It would be a gathering of the desolate dry bones of the Jewish people (chapter 37) who declare their hope is gone. The Hope (Ha Tikva) is now the national anthem of the State of Israel. The prophecies are now today’s news and current events.
As we come to the significant 70 year of Israel’s amazing rebirth after 2000 years, rising from those very ashes of the Holocaust, may the Guardian of Israel remember, for His own name’s sake, the promises made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, and in him who all the promises of G-d are yes and amen, the Messiah Yeshua. I am a descendent of those who perished in the Holocaust, three years older than this amazing and sudden phenomenon of the rebirth and restoration of Israel in 1948, a sign much spoken against and spread out before the eyes of all peoples to behold and to discern the times and the season.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
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Whose right of determination?
Israel remembers tonight all her sons and daughters who have died in the numerous wars and terror attacks since her birth as a nation 70 years ago, according to the Hebrew calendar. (The Western calendar Independence date is May 14/15.) Every war and attack against Israel is an existential threat to her existence. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Through many tribulations we enter the Kingdom of God!” (Acts 14:22) There is much suffering, even death, before entering into glory.
YHVH God of Israel called and destined His people to be separate from the Gentile nations, a holy people to Himself, and a priestly nation to the nations. But in the days of Samuel the prophet, the Children of Israel asked for a king like the Gentiles have, to judge them and lead them in war. God gave them what they asked for: He gave them Saul to be their king. (Shaul in Hebrew, which means, “asked for”.)
The LORD through the Prophet Ezekiel (20:32) asserts His claim upon the determination of His people’s identity and character: “What you have in mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’”
It is often said by even Israeli government ministers that we, the Jewish people, have the right of “self-determination” to be a Jewish nation-state. This can never be a justification by Jewish people for having our own sovereign country. The Palestinians could — and do — make the same claim for themselves. Our only basis for being here is YHVH’s covenant promise and oath, and the faithfulness of God to bring us back here — for His holy name’s sake. We are not like the other peoples to God in this respect: only Israel has He known (Amos 3:1-2), and He has given us a calling and destiny of who He has determined we are to be. This is true also of the Body of Christ/Messiah: our identity and destiny are determined by Him before the world began. (Eph. 1:3-6)
Megillat HaAtzmaut, by the Maccabeats, with this line concerning the Jewish State of Israel: “this right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all the other nations”.
But, as the Lord has said: this is not so, and will not be!
“As I live,” says the Lord YHVH, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you! I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you were scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the desert land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am Yehovah!” (Ezek. 20: 33-38)
The national anthem of Israel is called HaTikvah, The Hope. God has built into His people the hope of a better world. The hope put before them is predicated upon repentance and faith in YHVH’s Anointed One — Yeshua/Jesus. May we see this hope fulfilled in our generation — for Israel, for the nations, for the Body of Christ.
At the end of the day, all who are the Lord’s will know this to be true: we will have struggled with God and with man, and prevailed! Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Gen. 32:24-30 ; Rom. 11:33)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, April 17, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.