Glimpses of Israel - The Arabs and Israel

by Joseph Hunting

Much confusion has arisen in recent years over the P.L.O. and hard-line politics applied by neighbouring Arab states concerning the Arabs and Israel.

From earliest Bible times the Holy Land has been shared by the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau. On the other hand it must be recognized that God gave this land for an everlasting inheritance to Abraham and his seed through Isaac and Jacob, NOT through Ishmael and Esau.

It would be difficult to accurately identify the descendants of Ishmael and Esau. In Bible times they were known as Ishmaelites and Edomites. Over the centuries they would have mingled with the various conquerors and other inhabitants of the area and today they would be generally identified as Arabs.

Two of the indigenous Arab peoples that have maintained their colourful patriarchal way of life are the Bedouin tribespeople and the Druse. Generally, the Bedouin, like their Hebrew cousins, had their origins in the southern desert, or the Negev. The Druse, on the other hand, live in Galilee and claim Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, as their ancestor. Both have a stake in their ancient homeland as Israeli citizens.

During my visits to Israel I have been impressed by the way the Jews and Arabs mingle together, work together and respect each other. Admittedly, there has been much blood shed in the past and the Palestinian problem is far from being settled. Yet, even as Jacob and Esau were reconciled after years of estrangement, may the day soon come when Abraham's descendants, Jew and Arab, dwell in peace and prosperity each under his own vine and fig tree.