free Palestine

What Does It Mean to Be Free? The Palestinian Question

5 April 2024

4.8 MINS

Free Palestine! Free Palestine! From the River to the Sea, Palestinians shall be free!

What does this mean?

From the moment Israel was declared a state, surrounding Arab states vowed to pursue the complete annihilation of the Jewish people. This is also the mantra of Islamic leaders calling for ‘jihad’ and the establishment of worldwide Islamic rule. What freedom that would be!

So let’s imagine, hypothetically, that by international agreement, the Palestinian people took possession of the land that is currently the legally sanctioned state of Israel. We will leave the question of what happens to around 9 million Jews.

In this hypothetical example of a ‘Free Palestine’, let’s just focus on the Palestinians.

So the Palestinians, currently living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, take possession of what is Israel and call it Palestine. Then imagine, if you can, how it would function. Who would be the government?

Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah — or maybe it would come under the control of Iran?

These groups are generally at war with each other, but maybe if there were a Palestinian state, they would miraculously be at peace.

And they would be ‘free’. Free to create their own state, farm the land, develop industry, educate their children and live at peace with their neighbours in a thriving democracy.

Just as they had the opportunity to do in Gaza, but instead used the billions of dollars given to build a war machine and over 500 km of tunnels.

But if they were ‘free’, they would reach their ultimate goal, which they currently claim is denied, of ‘self-determination’.
So what is ‘self-determination’?

The UN Charter clarifies two meanings of the term self-determination. First, a state is said to have the right of self-determination in the sense of having the right to choose freely its political, economic, social, and cultural systems.

Second, the right to self-determination is defined as the right of a people to constitute itself in a state or otherwise freely determine the form of its association with an existing state.

This assumes not a totalitarian state but a democratic state, in which the people choose democratically elected officials who will act in their best interests.

The irony is the only State in the Middle East that fits this criteria is Israel. It is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is the only place where Jews, Christians and Muslims are free to worship, work side by side and stand for public office. It is not a perfect society, but there is generally freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly and, most significantly, freedom of worship.

For Arab states, there are no such freedoms.

What Do We Mean by Freedom?

It’s interesting to note many of our most treasured writings have come from people in prison. For example, think Nelson Mandela (Long Walk to Freedom), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Nobel Prize winner, The Gulag Archipelago); Corrie Ten Boom (Holocaust survivor), and many more.

For each of these writers, forgiveness set them free. In the face of unimaginable suffering and injustice, these writers maintained a freedom of conscience, which enabled them not only to thrive but also inspire others to do the same despite their circumstances.

It appears the key to their freedom was not to be cowed by the authorities that held them captive. They each submitted to a higher authority, which enabled them to have freedom of conscience, resilience, courage and determination.

My experience in prison ministry confirms this. Prisoners who come to a saving knowledge of Christ in jail are freer than many on the outside who live in self-imposed prisons of fear, mistrust, anger and spiritual darkness.

And although Jesus was not in prison except on the last day of His life, He lived under oppressive Roman occupation, was constantly harassed by opposing groups, and ultimately was killed for His refusal to stop proclaiming forgiveness, hope, love, mercy and truth.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said:

“If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.
Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

What was this truth? The truth that Jesus, by His death on the cross, paid the penalty of sin. His blood was the atoning sacrifice that allows those who accept it to be set free from sin and death.

Jesus went on to say:

“Very truly everyone who sins is a slave to sin. …
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34,36)

Slavery was common in biblical times, and sadly, it is all too prevalent in our world today. God wants us to be outraged by slavery because of the damage it causes everyone involved. He wants us to recognise that slavery to sin is dehumanising and repugnant. He wants our eyes opened to the deception our spiritual enemy uses to keep us enslaved to sin because it leads to death.

To be a slave (Greek, doulos) to sin is to be someone who cannot help but make unrighteous choices. To put it simply, being a slave to sin is to be in rebellion with God.

The Way of Peace

Oh, that the Palestinians and their supporters would exchange their hatred, anger and destructive behaviour for the path of real freedom. Does it seem impossible in the current circumstances?

Before October 7, real progress was being made with the Abrahamic Accords between Israel and several Arab countries. The wording in the preamble is quite inspiring:

We, the undersigned, recognise the importance of maintaining and strengthening peace in the Middle East and around the world based on mutual understanding and coexistence, as well as respect for human dignity and freedom, including religious freedom.

We encourage efforts to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue to advance a culture of peace among the three Abrahamic religions and all humanity.

We believe that the best way to address challenges is through cooperation and dialogue and that developing friendly relations among States advances the interests of lasting peace in the Middle East and around the world.

We seek tolerance and respect for every person in order to make this world a place where all can enjoy a life of dignity and hope, no matter their race, faith or ethnicity.

We support science, art, medicine, and commerce to inspire humankind, maximize human potential and bring nations closer together.

We seek to end radicalization and conflict to provide all children a better future.

We pursue a vision of peace, security, and prosperity in the Middle East and around the world.

In this spirit, we warmly welcome and are encouraged by the progress already made in establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and its neighbours in the region under the principles of the Abraham Accords. We are encouraged by the ongoing efforts to consolidate and expand such friendly relations based on shared interests and a shared commitment to a better future.

Agreements have been signed with Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. These nations realise that peaceful co-existence is in the best interests of everyone.

It is only the radical Islamists who seek annihilation of Israel. This will not bring peace and it will not bring freedom. But we need to be aware the warring factions are joining forces – Iran, China, Russia.

Let’s pray that the ‘slaves to sin’ will be set free to follow the path to peace. This drastic transformation is only possible by the grace of God.


NB: For an account of recent events in the Netherlands, see here.

Photo by Xach Hill.

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  1. Christine Crawford 5 April 2024 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Yes the Abrahamic Accord- willingly signed by middle Eastern Countries before America had a “Democratic “Government; operating peacefully until October 7th , under an American “democratic ” Government who has ceased to support Israel…mmm…

  2. Warwick Marsh 5 April 2024 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Great article Terri!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. david morey 5 April 2024 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Well written.

  4. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 7 April 2024 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Biden = support for radical Islam, ie for Terrorist organisations. He is the enemy of Christianity. The sooner he is gone , the better ! The once respected USA is now treated as a joke by other world governments.

  5. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 8 April 2024 at 12:09 am - Reply

    Good to see that Turkey has again voted for a moderate Islamic government which believes in democratic freedoms. 100 years ago Ataturk abolished the Caliphate and inplemented democracy. In this way he took a backward country (which was like living in the Middle Ages ) into the free, modern world. A pity other Islamic countries have not followed Ataturk’s reforms. He was a great man who wanted the best for his country and its people.

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