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(c) Steve Maltz 2003

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The Land of Many Names
Towards a Christian understanding of the Middle East conflict


Let's be clear about this now. Israel is a little place, about the same size as Wales. Surrounded by thousands of miles of oil-rich desert, it is populated by a vast, seething melting pot of different colours, cultures and cuisines. It's the holiest place for great religions whose scriptures argue against having holy places! It has a geography of extremes: snow-capped mountains in the north, lush green orchards in the west, barren desert in the south and the lowest place on Earth in the east! It is possible to start a car journey needing an overcoat in Jerusalem and be sunbathing an hour later by the Dead Sea! Can Wales boast all of that?

It's also the world's foremost political and religious hotspot, giving rise to more United Nations resolutions than all other nations put together! It's both hated and loved by more people than any other. It's the most fascinating, mysterious and intriguing place in the world. It is also the most misunderstood and confusing place. Its history is a murky web of truth, half-truth and no-truth, depending on your perspective and allegiance. Its very name provokes dissent. To Jews it is Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. To most Arabs it is Palestine. To many Christians, confused by the whole issue, it is the simple fudge of the Holy Land.

The world has changed a great deal since the end of the Second World War. The Cold War came and went as Eastern Europe passed from repression to liberation. Two superpowers became one and Britain more or less lost her empire. The rest of Europe has voluntarily unified, by mutual consent rather than by Nazi domination. Populations moved eastwards and westwards and northwards and southwards, driven by war or deprivation. No continent has been unaffected by this mass movement of people.

Yet in one slip of land, a mere green and gold scar in the deserts of Araby, time has frozen. People are still arguing and killing each other over events that happened more than 30, 40, 50 years ago. The year 1948 provokes contrasting emotions for the people of the land - to Jews it was liberation from 1,900 years of persecution, to Arabs it was the Nakba, the catastrophe.

This book deals with the origins of the current crisis in Israel. It has been written to help you in your understanding of what is a very thorny but vital topic for the Church today. Starting with the earliest Bible promises, it includes a history of the land from biblical times through to the modern day. Finally there is a summing-up and a look to the future, with the Bible and its promises as our reference.

It is my belief that we Christians must look beyond day-to-day politics and realise that the conflict is a spiritual conflict. The sooner we begin to look at it through spiritual eyes, the sooner we will wake up to the realities of the battles being fought in heavenly realms. These are exciting times, frightening times.

The Land of Many Names by Steve Maltz, is published by Authentic Lifestyle for ?7.99. ISBN 1-86024-287-1
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