by David A. Reed COMPLETE BOOK ONLINE
Jerusalem a Problem for the Whole World
It would be an understatement to remark that political and military control over the city of Jerusalem has changed hands many times over the years. (See the chapter in this book titled "Holy City.") In most cases, however, the city itself was not the main focus of the war or the diplomatic negotiations that resulted in the change of ownership, at least from the standpoint of the generals and the diplomats. Empires were on the move, and Jerusalem just happened to be in the way. It's location at the intersection of lines connecting the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa placed it in the path of many a large-scale conquest.
The exceptions were the numerous Jewish campaigns and revolts, aimed at wresting control away from occupying Gentile powers, and, of course, the Christian Crusades and Islamic Jihads, because these "holy" wars were, in fact, targeted specifically at control of Jerusalem.
The Crusades and opposing Jihads which raged from the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries involved the nations of Christendom and those of Islam, but it would be an exaggeration to say that Jerusalem had become a problem for the whole world during that period, or that all the nations of the world had united to impose a solution. Christendom then stretched across Europe, and the Muslim states covered North Africa and the Middle East. Few, if any, inhabitants of China, Japan or sub-Saharan Africa were following those developments, much less actually involved in them, and the Americas (which had not yet received that name) were totally out of the picture. Moreover, the Crusades and Jihads pitted groups of nations against each other for control of Jerusalem; they had not come together to impose an international regime. The time Zechariah predicted when Jerusalem would be a 'stone burdening the whole world' and when 'all the nations would unite' in dealing with it was yet future. (Zech. 12:2-3)
Today, however, we do indeed see a situation in which the status of Jerusalem has become a problem for the whole world, and in which the nations, already united through the United Nations organization, are debating using that organization to impose a solution. The radical Islamic suicide bombings that were once confined to Israel, with the aim, in part, of restoring Arab control over Jerusalem, have now spread worldwide. American interests around the globe have become the target of such attacks, and a principal argument of justification offered by the attackers and the groups sponsoring them has been that America supports Israel. United States embassies have been blown up in Africa, a nightclub full of international tourists has been bombed in Bali, Indonesia, and, of course, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City have been destroyed, killing mostly Americans, but with citizens from dozens of countries included among the fatalities.
America responded to the destruction of September 11, 2001, with a "war against terrorism" that has involved nations around the globe. The United States military targeted Afghanistan, and drove from power the Taliban regime that had hosted and supported Osama Bin Laden and his Al Quaeda training camps. Terrorists were reported to have held secret meetings in places far from the Middle East to plan the September 11 attacks. The FBI began working with governments to arrest alleged conspirators in Spain, France, England, Italy, Germany, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere. U.S. soldiers entered the Philippines as "advisors" to help hunt down Islamic militants. Jerusalem had become a problem for all of these nations.
Concurrent with all of this, letters laden with deadly anthrax spores killed or sickened American postal workers and shut down major government buildings for decontamination. Still unsolved as of this writing, that germ warfare attack was blamed by many on the same terrorist network responsible for the suicide bombings, the terrorists whose complaint revolved around the status of Jerusalem. Copycat hoaxes turned up envelopes with white powder from South America to the Far East and from Europe to Africa.
America and coalition forces next attacked Iraq to depose the regime of Saddam Hussein, whose alleged weapons of mass destruction threatened the United States and its allies, most notably Israel. The Jewish state had sent attack aircraft to destroy an Iraqi nuclear facility in 1982, and one of Saddam's constant propaganda themes had been recruitment of an army of millions of civilians to "march on Jerusalem." Israel had been struck by several Scud missiles fired from Iraq during the Gulf War of 1992, and so was clearly within range and was a prime target. The Iraqi government had also been making cash payments to the families of suicide bombers who died attacking Jews in Israel. Some American critics of the George W. Bush administration blamed the president's push for war on his support for Israel and his determination to save Israel from attack by alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Nations throughout the world have been directly involved in all of these events, or at least have participated in the international debate and the political maneuverings relating to Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terrorism. Nations everywhere have been forced to modify procedures relating to air travel, institute improved security measures, and keep track of suspected terrorists or terrorist support organizations within their borders.
The whole world has followed all of these developments on TV and on the Internet, and the whole world has been terrorized. Jerusalem has indeed become a problem for the whole world. Each time there was another suicide bombing in Israel, or another Israeli military incursion into Palestinian areas, the world shuddered and speculated on how the international terrorists would respond. Where would they strike next?
Yes, Jerusalem is now a problem 'burdening the whole world.' But, are the nations also uniting to impose a solution, as Zechariah foretold? (Zech. 12:2-3)
Prior to the twentieth century and the formation of the League of Nations in the wake of World War One, it would have been difficult to conceive of all the nations of the world uniting to do anything at all, let alone uniting to send armies to Jerusalem. But, one of the earliest official acts of that League of Nations was to grant the British government a Mandate to rule over Palestine, including Jerusalem.
Prior to the late 1990's and the beginning of the new millennium, it would have been difficult to conceive of the League's successor, the United Nations, sending forces to Jerusalem. The prevailing concept had always been that national sovereignty trumped United Nations authority. United Nations peacekeepers generally assisted in conflicts between member nations, with the consent of both parties, but the world body scrupulously avoided interfering in the internal affairs of member states.
In fact, from the time of its founding at the end of the Second World War, the U.N. had been viewed as largely a debating society, when it came to issues of war and peace. As a world government, it had active social service agencies such as UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund), and it accomplished a lot in the way of promoting world communication and commerce, but it did not have a strong police force.
And it still does not. After all, how can a policeman armed with only a billy club subdue brawlers brandishing knives and guns? Comparatively speaking, that is what peacekeeping forces in white trucks marked "UN" would be up against, if they were to confront an uncooperative nation determined to use its jet fighters, bombers and tanks aggressively. United Nations peacekeepers have never been heavily armed by modern military standards.
The Korean War may come to mind as an exception. The United Nations organization was still in its infancy when, in 1950, the Soviet Union decided to boycott sessions of the Security Council. In the absence of a Soviet veto, the Council invoked military sanctions against North Korea and invited member states to come to the aid of South Korea. American troops then led those from many other nations as "United Nations forces" in a military campaign sanctified as a U.N. mission. These U.N. forces waged full scale war with everything short of nuclear weapons. But that was an unusual circumstance that has not repeated itself.
Recent decades, however, have seen more and more authority vested in U.N. agencies, together with greater reliance on blue-helmeted U.N. peacekeeping forces. Toward the end of 2002 and during the early months of 2003, the Security Council earnestly debated whether or not to authorize military action to enforce its earlier resolutions about disarming Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
Will this prove to be a dress rehearsal for a military move by the United Nations against Israel? Time will tell. But the necessary U.N. resolutions that could lead up to such actions are already in place. If the Security Council could debate the possibility of calling for military action against Iraq to enforce its resolutions, it could certainly do the same with regard to Israel. In fact, some critics of the American push for a resolution authorizing force against Iraq argued that it would be a double standard to take action against Iraq and not against Israel.
Even now, although the world has not yet come together to authorize joint military force against Israel, it has already come together to oppose Israeli control of Jerusalem. It is only the military enforcement that is lacking, as of this writing.
Over the course of many decades, the groundwork has progressively been laid for international intervention to determine Jerusalem's fate.
Following the Allied conquest of the city at the end of 1917, Britain ruled Jerusalem and all of the land of Israel under a Mandate issued by the League of Nations, predecessor of the United Nations. This did not appear, at that time, to be hostile to Jewish interests concerning the city. Prior to that Jerusalem had been in the hands of the Ottoman Turks, Muslims who had no intention of establishing Jewish sovereignty. But the British government had, by its Balfour Declaration of 1917, announced that "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object." (See a later chapter in this book for a discussion, and for the full text of this document.) So, the League's grant of a Mandate for Britain to rule the area appeared to be a pro-Jewish move. Still, it established a precedent for international determination of Jerusalem's fate by a world body.
In 1947, after the League's demise, a United Nations resolution recommended partitioning the mandated territory of Palestine into two independent nations, one Jewish and the other Arab, and, after British forces withdrew, the nations of Israel and Jordan were born the following year. Thus, the United Nations has been involved with the modern state of Israel since before its birth.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 called for the partition of the British-ruled Palestine Mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state. It was approved on November 29, 1947, and included the following provisions relating to Jerusalem:
I.A.3. Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described in Parts II and III below. ...
The partition of the territory covered by the British Palestine Mandate resulted in formation of the states of Israel and Jordan, but the internationalization of Jerusalem specified in General Assembly Resolution 181 failed to occur. Nor did any "Governor of the City of Jerusalem" representing the United Nations ever take office to run the city, as that Resolution required.
However, the United Nations continued to generate new resolutions concerning Jerusalem. In fact there have probably been more United Nations resolutions concerning Israel and Jerusalem than concerning any other nation or region in the world. At last count, there were well over three hundred U.N. General Assembly resolutions and more than fifty U.N. Security Council resolutions concerning Israel -- the vast majority of them condemning the actions of the Jewish state.
These resolutions, often referencing earlier resolutions, continue to protest Israeli control of the city. For example, Security Council Resolution 476 (1980) declares that the body is
Consider also the full text of U.N. Security Council Resolution 478, which, like Resolution 476, was presented in response to Israeli laws affirming the status of Jerusalem as Israel's capital:
You can read all of the Security Council resolutions concerning Jerusalem by browsing to the United Nations website at www.UN.org. Just follow the links for U.N. bodies, and select "Security Council" and then "Resolutions." Or, to go directly to the resolutions regarding Israel and Palestine, a direct link valid as of this writing is found at the URL http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/
Has the world forgotten about the 1947 resolution calling for internationalization of Jerusalem under a governor appointed by the U.N.? Most people may have forgotten, but the leaders of the world's nations remember. In fact, toward the end of the year 2000 the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 57/111 on Jerusalem, in which it specifically references "resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, in particular its provisions regarding the City of Jerusalem," and states, "the international community, through the United Nations, has a legitimate interest in the question of the City of Jerusalem" and that "any actions taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever." (See our chapter "Nations United and Resolved" for more on this particular U.N. resolution.)
It is these resolutions that the world community seems to be moving in the direction of enforcing. As noted in the first chapter of this book, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "the West has been guilty of double standards -- on the one hand saying the UN Security Council resolutions on Iraq must be implemented, on the other hand, sometimes appearing rather quixotic over the implementation of resolutions about Israel and Palestine." (From the article titled, "Foreign Ministry slams British PM's linkage of Iraq, Intifada," by Douglas Davis, March 26, 2003)
Despite such resolutions, and the possibility of enforcement by military means, it is still hard to imagine blue-helmeted United Nations peacekeeping forces assembling in the region outside Israel and then marching into the country by force. In half a dozen wars Israel was able to push back the combined armies of all its Arab neighbors. In the 1967 war the Arab armies managed to push ahead twenty miles inside Israel, but then Israel stopped them and pushed them back. Would U.N. forces meet with greater success than the Arabs? Even from a purely secular and strategic standpoint, without giving thought to divine intervention, the task would give pause to any general or military commander.
Moreover, today it is generally known or widely believed that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, although the Jews have never publicly declared themselves a nuclear power. With atomic weapons on both sides, the United States and the Soviet Union faced off for decades without either side daring to stage an all-out attack. A would-be attacker of Israel would face a similar deterrent.
So, how could a situation reasonably arise that would actually bring the forces of the United Nations into conflict with Israel over Jerusalem?
We will have to wait to see what happens, of course. But, dramatic changes and reversals have occurred before in global politics, and suicidal military ventures are not unknown in human history.
Yet, it is more common for military powers to back themselves into a corner, where they find themselves forced to act. For example, it would not be difficult to conceive of United Nations peacekeeping forces being invited into Jerusalem in relatively small numbers as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. They could be welcomed by both sides in under certain conditions, perhaps as unarmed monitors to report on compliance with agreements, or as lightly armed border guards to secure agreed-upon boundaries. Then, once they were in place, it would not be difficult to imagine the situation deteriorating some time later, and the government of Israel taking a position contrary to what the United Nations felt obligated to enforce. A confrontation between Israeli troops and reinforced U.N. forces could escalate unexpectedly.
Actually, United Nations forces in have already been invited into the area; not into Jerusalem, but into the border area of southern Lebanon. Israel welcomed them after its withdrawal in the year 2000 from Lebanese land that had been occupied as an Israeli "security zone" for more than two decades. In July, 2000, the U.N. deployed its first peacekeeping units along the "line of withdrawal", also known as the "blue line," between Israel and Lebanon. Referred to as the United Nations Interim Force, battalions of nearly two hundred soldiers in blue helmets took up positions -- armed men and women from Ireland, Ghana, Finland, Fiji, Nepal and India. So, a similar deployment around Jerusalem is not unthinkable.
In fact, numerous proposals have been made, calling for interposing U.N. peacekeepers between the Israelis and the Palestinians, either ahead of a peace agreement or as a means of implementing such an agreement. So far, Israel has refused to allow entry to such international forces, and the United States has blocked efforts in the U.N. Security Council to move in that direction.
But, the political situation can change a rapidly. Nothing illustrates that better than the changes in the United States policy toward Israel under President George W. Bush.
For decades prior to his administration the American policy had been one of official neutrality between Israel and the Palestinians. President Jimmy Carter dealt even handedly with both sides and brought them to the peace table at Camp David. Ronald Reagan pursued the same course during his eight-year administration. And George H. W. Bush (the father of George W. Bush) did likewise. The Bill Clinton White House followed the same policy and brought the Israelis and the Palestinians to the point of a peace agreement that was to have put a Palestinian state in place as early as 1999. Then the status of Jerusalem came up, and negotiations fell apart.
The policy of the new administration of George W. Bush appeared, at first, to be characterized by a lack of interest in the Middle East, altogether. Then, it became clear that, by adopting a hands-off policy, the new president had caused the United States government to change its course with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead of acting as a neutral power trying to bring both sides to the negotiating table, the United States actually took on the role of a ally of Israel. Without strong American intervention to act as a restraint, the government of Israel had the upper hand in dealing with the Palestinians. And with the tacit approval of Washington Israel used to its military superiority to impose a de facto solution without further negotiation with the Palestinians. Citing security concerns, Israeli forces simply re-occupied territory previously turned over to control by the Palestinian Authority.
But, then came September 11, 2001. When Islamic terrorist attacks hit the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, it became clear that Israel's strangulation of Palestinian aspirations in the occupied territories would not settle the matter. Like a balloon that is squeezed in one place, only to expand everywhere else, the violence spread worldwide. As a result, American policy changed course again. Instead of total disengagement, the U.S. became fully engaged again in the Middle East peace process, this time by joining Russia, the European Union and the United Nations to form a Quartet sponsoring an international roadmap for peace.
Similar rapid changes in circumstances and policies could turn a voluntary peacekeeping operation around Jerusalem into a hostile military occupation of Jerusalem by blue helmeted United Nations peacekeeping forces. The international attack on Jerusalem long foretold in the Bible could develop from a botched peacekeeping effort. Peacekeepers brought in voluntarily by Israel could turn into the advance guard of an invading army. And a new administration in Washington could turn Israel's only ally into a neutral observer, or even an opponent.
Am I writing this book to declare to the world that this is what will happen? No. We can not be certain, at this time, just how the prophecies of an international attack on Jerusalem see fulfillment.
But we can be certain that Jerusalem has already now become a problem for the whole world, and that the legal framework has already been put in place for the United Nations to insist upon international control over the city. In the light of Bible prophecy, this gives us reason to expect the rest of what the Bible predicts to take place in the near future.