Reviews - What do customers think about Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia?
Ancient Philistia as Modern Palestine Nov 14, 2008
Full disclosure; Kermit is a friend and fellow student of the Hebrew language. I enjoyed reading this book and learned alot. Its divided into 3 sections: The Ancient Past, The Modern Present and The Coming Future. The first 2 sections provide an excellent review of historical events related to the state of Israel, while the 3rd section discusses the future of the region in the light of Bible prophecy. Two key aspects of Kermit's case are that 1) God gave land to each nation, including Philistia, and 2) Israel NEVER ruled Philistia completely (i.e. never fully obeyed God's directive). Its greatest extent of control over Philistine territory came during the 20-year period of 96-76 BC during the rule of Hasmonean leader Alexander Jannaeus. From this, Kermit argues that modern Israel's occupation of the Plain of Philistia is contrary both to historical precedent and also to the express will of God (44, i.e. He'd given the land to the Philistines, later challenging the Israelites to take it [by trusting Him to give them victory in battle], but they failed to do so [i.e. their fear of the Philistines overcame their faith in God to deliver victory]).
His proposal involves carving out historic Philistia for a Palestinian state, from the usually dry stream "Wadi el Arish" in NE Egypt as its SW border to the seasonal stream "Nahal Sorek" in the NE (between Ashdod and Joppa/Tel Aviv), extending roughly 15 miles inland across what the Bible calls the "Philistine Plain" to the Shephelah (i.e. "lowlands"), to include all 5 historic Philistine cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath. Most of the land would come from Israel, with a small section in the SW coming from Egypt. While this is a very interesting idea, it seems unlikely to me that the Palestinians would agree to it, nor would Egypt likely be willing to part with any land in her NE region, as required by this plan. Though if all parties truly want peace, I agree with Kermit that this is a promising blueprint for that goal. Practically speaking, I would think giving the Philistine Plain to the Palestinians would be much less painful to Israel than parting with the biblically and historically (for them) much more meaningful West Bank.
I couldn't help but chuckle when I got to the one little "catch" for the Palestinians in being given the Philistine Plain; that while Isaiah 11 fortells that "a people whom the prophet called the Philistines (Palestinians?) might yet be reestablished in 'the land of the Philistines' ... the context of Isaiah 11:14 concerns the yet future Messianic DESTRUCTION of Israel's neighbors, the Philistines and the Jordanians" (191). So here's the offer: "Sure, you can have the land, but there's just one tiny little catch!" :-)
I have several concerns about Kermit's case, including his citation of McGovern (104) and Carter (107) statements in support of the idea that under international law the Palestinians are just as entitled to self-determination in Palestine as the Jews. As a conservative, I don't view the opinions of these 2 leftist politicians as authoritative. And remember the whole point of reestablishing Israel has been to provide a safe homeland for the Jewish people. Further, WWI/II demonstrated that the idea of "self determination" is not workable for every people group. Even Wilson's own Sec'y of State Robert Lansing groaned that it was based on fantasy and would lead to impossible expectations and untold suffering and death (which it did). Walter Lippman later agreed, noting that it encourages intransigence, discourages cooperation. On the other hand, if the Palestinians were to agree to renounce terror, recognize Israel, and reclaim the [God-authorized] Philistine land, then I'd have to go along with Kermit on this.
Kermit notes interestingly that the Palestinians are widely seen as the most educated, sophisticated Arabs. He discusses the controversy over Palestinian "identity" i.e. whether it has always existed or was "developed" only after 1964 by the PLO and others as a PR tool. I'd add that the Palestinian cause was greatly harmed when the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem allied it with Hitler during WWII. Finally, any revived Palestinian state without renunciation of terror and recognition of Israel would have the horrible effect of rewarding terror and anti-Semitism!
Kermit notes that when the UN recognized the PLO in Resolution 3236 shortly after Arafat's October 1974 speech, it was "the first and only time the UN [had] granted such status to a revolutionary [i.e. violent, terrorist] organization" (122). It seems to me that the UN was wrong then and Reagan was right in 1987 to refuse to recognize it (122, Kermit disagrees). Kermit thinks America should be more even-handed between Israel and Palestinians. He lists 5 factors that prevent this, especially the "Religious Right" (140ff). He advises us evangelicals to reconsider uncritical support of Israel. Hmmm, related to this, I find it curious that Palestinians are generally supported by the Left, Israel by the Right (i.e. apparently part of the "culture wars"). Kermit notes the paradox (149) of the American evangelical Right strongly supporting the mostly secular, left-leaning Israeli Jews. Hmmm, while the original Zionist settlers were mostly secular leftists mainly supported by European leftists, this changed after the 1967 war, when Palestinians replaced Israel as 'underdog' and Israel began to be viewed as a neo-colonial aggressor. Losing European support, Israel moved closer to the US as the Israeli Labor party lost ground to Likud.
Despite these reservations, I recommend this book. If all sides truly want peace, this plan could actually work!